Caol Ila 9 Year Refill Sherry 60.1% Signatory Vintage

Cask Strength Sherried Islay Peated Scotch

Islay peated scotch is a favorite of mine. I do tend to also love sherry casks with heavily peated whisky. I really enjoy that heavy peat flavor and typically the salinity that comes with the ocean air. Diving into this sample, I expected to immediately fall in love but was rather surprised by the time I finished this dram.

Auburn in color, with rather thick legs in my glencairn. This was rested, capped, for 10 minutes with no added water. Additional resting time was given part way through my tasting as well as water added incrementally.

The nose is that lovely and pleasant iodine heavy peat. Lots of clove and leather notes. The smoky peat is certainly overpowering any sherry influence. Prunes and lots of earthy flavors. LOTS of earth. Boggy moss and compost soil. A very slight brine and sherry funk. Rotting, damp wood. The addition of water brought out some cinnamon and pear skin. Sherry is more pronounced but still being overpowered by the peat. I expect the first fill of this cask was quite a bit more sweeter and fruitier.

At 60.1%, this is just straight peat smoke with a very mild fruity note. It’s rather acrid and bitter and honestly, not very good tasting. Some salinity is making it’s way forward but mostly bitter tobacco ash flavors. Water does not bring many changes aside from more oak mustiness. Tree moss and bark. Air is really helping and letting this rest for an additional 10 minutes really helps out a lot. I think it is now more salted ham with a small touch of sweet glaze. Still very much on the bitter side however.

The finish is just ok. Nothing really noteworthy. Lots of peat as expected but I still get a lot of bitterness. I found one small bright spot but I kept searching for it with each sip and couldn’t really place it. It was this very faint lemon tea note but I shouldn’t have to dig through so many acrid flavors to find a decent note.

I went in thinking this would be a slam dunk and I was disappointed. Sherry and peat are my wheelhouse but somehow the oaky bitterness just took over. Every once in a while you get some really good salt hit but then it’s just diving right back into bitter. Overall, bitter and unpleasant.