Sunday, June 27, 2021

Glen Scotia, Highland Park CS, Clynelish Selkie, Caol Ila, Kilkerran peated malts

“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” — (wasn’t said by) Mark Twain

https://www.anchorbr … o-say-what-says-who/
Whoever really said, it is mostly true. Today, at the very end of June, the temperature outside barely broke 65 degrees or so with chilly, cold, and gusty winds while majority of the rest of the country is suffering from heat wave… We’re not here to talk about the weather but instead to review whiskey and what a time to be alive and drink peated malts if not when it’s cold outside. With the usual disclaimer that I don’t actually like peat… Let’s dig into more backlogged samples. I’ll expect the grading going all over the place here.

Glen Scotia 14, Tawny Port 52.8%
Bottled for Campbeltown Malts Festival 2020. This is the successor for the rum cask finish in 2019, which was delicious. https://www.aerin.or … y:entry200411-073247… The nose is smoked berry compote. To be honest I’m quite confused since it doesn’t smell like a Scotch. Dark smoked plums and intense green pine? It has been sitting in my glass for a while as I was stressing to drink it. It is quite velvety in texture, the peat level is high. Much higher than the Rum cask from 2019, together with higher levels of iodine salinity. Thankfully it’s well balanced off by the tawny port jamminess and dark fruit with a bit of chocolate sweetness. This somewhat reminds me of smoky dark chocolate with salt and cayenne powder. Overall, while I quite enjoyed the ‘19 Rum version, this isn’t my jam even if I do enjoy sweet peat. This is almost pure islay that’s been sweetened up by port. Not unpleasant, it’s red dessert wine, smoke and whiskey mix but I find myself fighting though the peat levels here. Someone that enjoys peat would likely enjoy it much more than I do.
Score: B- (Peat!)

Highland Park (HP) 2020, Cask Strength, 63.3%
I got an odd relationship with HP… Some bottles I really dislike https://www.aerin.or … y:entry201205-225320 … and some I really like https://www.aerin.or … y:entry210523-215817. Nearly sulfuric on the nose with some smoke, iodine and sherry notes. Sweet and quite fiery on the front of the palate, with lots of residual heat and smoke coming up in the back. Someone salty, smokey and slightly spicy aftertaste but not much to write home about here as it fades into near-obscurity after some time… Pleasant but not great. The nature of NAS makes itself be known here with younger barrels which is odd, considering the palate is quite woody. For a peated offering this ain’t too overwhelming and is balanced well. Some water amps the sweetness and cuts the burn making it quite enjoyable overall. A NAS bottling sherried malt with some peat but not overwhelming. Water is recommended. Still, frankly lack of subtle flavors and slight woody bitterness in the aftertaste department makes it not all that desirable pour for me. It’s also not that bad by itself.
Score: B-

Clynelish 14 SiB, Selkie Queen, 57.1%
A Joshua Thinnes Single Cask pick (if that makes any difference to the reader). I treat to myself… From myself, though a sample. Little lick of the last drop from the sample bottle brought in so much honeycomb… Crazy… Let’s not beat around the bush. It’s a refill Clynelish. Super pale and it’s 14 years old. May as well be an Old Malt Cask. On the plus side it’s a pick from a person with a solid palate so fingers crossed. Old oak cereal minerality, bit of yellow citrus, and honeycomb on the nose. Lucious, thick, slightly wood-bitter, honey and stone fruit on the palate. The aftertaste is more honey and is sadly somewhat unimpressive compared to the palate… Interestingly, it is begging for water. With few water drops… well it’s an Old Malt Cask behavior. Pepper and oak in addition to previous flavors. It’s… good… but… Clynelish really needs at least a bit of sherry to offset its character and shine… Pleasant, extremely complex and contemplative this could feel underwhelming because of its subtlety. At the same time it’s so tightly layered with lighter scotch flavors that it can take hours to figure them out. I’m certainly enjoying my glass… yet I’m wondering if i would have enjoyed this repeatedly and I’m leaning towards a ‘not on regular basis’. Due to high complexity this isn’t an everyday pour by any means… but it is also its downfall as it’s chock-full of blink-and-miss flavors. Easily in the top of every Old Malt Cask bottle that I’ve tried till now. Must like n-th refill bourbon casks though… On the value side, I don’t recall original MSRP but it was higher than I would have paid for IB Clynelish 14… It’s not worth it and also sold out. It’s a great pick that seems to have been priced unreasonably high.
https://www.subtlesp …
Score: A-

Caol Ila 10, Islay Straight, Sovereign 59.6%
A 2010 Sherry Butt spooned Caol Isla? Okay. In sherry? Sure, lets try. It’s a young Islay in sherry. I’m expecting salty sweet smoke with a fairly substantial proof. So far, the nose doesn’t disappoint. Smells like sweet smoked seafood. Tastes like sweet smoked fish jerky even if not surprisingly a tad too hot on the palate. The aftertaste is fantastic though it reminds me of a good cigar and I don’t smoke. Peat isn’t too overwhelming here and neither is sherry they work together nicely. Comparably straightforward bottling, this is tasty in a smoked sherry ways but due to low age it lacks much in terms of secondary or very complex flavors that would develop over time in a cask. On the value side, this is extremely solid and aggressively priced offering, no complaints.
Score: B+

Kilkerran (Glengyle) 8, Oloroso 2020, 57.1%
The Kilkerran/Glengyle 2020 bottling of recharred oloroso casks at 8 years old. Kilkerran is an offshoot of Springbank distillery where Springbank can experiment with things rather than sticking to more traditional versions of their distillery bottling. Well… It’s cask strength Oloroso… so yay varnish/mastic is strong with this one. On the palate it becomes something different though. Still, the palate offers slight mastic notes, the wood, and sherry, and spirit’s super light peat offer a very interesting balance that really wants to be enjoyed more and more it really coats my tongue. Oloroso casks bring stewed fruit compote balances well with light smokiness and wood notes. The nature of Campbeltown malt is also good at hiding imperfections, naturally being lightly smoked and malt-forward. Honestly, this is a good bottle. Value is honestly a touch too high for the age and mostly okay on flavor departments. I personally skipped this one as other bottlings from the distillery are hit or miss with this one being one of the few that hit it out of the park but hindsight is 20/20.
Score: A-

Scoring Breakdown: https://www.aerin.or … age=scores_breakdown