A Most Memorable Islay Malt at a Ridiculous Price
2010 Islay Strait (Caol Ila) 10 Year Old “Sovereign” K&L Exclusive Single Sherry Butt Finish Cask Strength Blended Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) ($69.99)
“… this is one of the biggest scores we’ve had in a while.”
— David Othenin-Girard, K&L SoCal Spirits Buyer
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One of the truly great distilleries of Islay is Caol Ila. The string of casks from them that we’ve presented over the years has served to burnish their impeccable reputation, making them strong favorites among our customers. You can add to this long line of incredible casks the 2010 Islay Strait (Caol Ila) 10 Year Old “Sovereign.” A “teaspooned” rendition, it is one of the most unique offerings we’ve had the pleasure to taste. Because a touch of Bunnahabhain has been added to this cask, we are able to offer it for a meager price, making it one of the sharper Scotch buys on our shelves. Smokey and with Caol Ila’s trademark fruitiness, this malt takes wonderfully to its sherry cask influence. A hauntingly seductive dram, it shows a delightful interplay of sweet and savory tones. 10-year-olds from Caol Ila are often priced well above the $100 mark, so finding this one for $70 is quite remarkable. Any fan of Caol Ila will want to experience this one-of-a-kind expression. As with all of our cask exclusives, there’s never enough to go around, so make sure to act quickly to add this beauty to your collection.
Anyone who has taken the ferry to the Isle of Islay from Kennacraig to Port Askaig has seen this special distillery from a unique vantage point. As you motor up the Islay Strait to the port the ferry begins a big sweeping turn into the harbor and you get a spectacular view off the starboard side of Caol Ila’s warehouses and massive distillery. It’s a special introduction to the spectacular beauty of Islay. If you were to skip the port and carry on up the strait you would find Bunnahabhain, and so it was a natural choice for the teaspoon of liquid gold we needed to add to the cask and bring the price of this 10-year-old down far below the $100 mark. Caol Ila’s natural fruity and smoky profile meshes wonderfully with a sherry butt finish that adds an impressive dark color and nutty flavor to a perennial favorite.
David Othenin-Girard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: January 05, 2021
The simple fact that we can get and sell Caol Ila over 10 years old for less than $70 as a cask strength single barrel makes us take notice. Islay’s unsung giant, the Caol Ila distillery looks out of the Straits of Islay, offering one of the most impeccable views from any still house in the world. Finished for some time in a nice sherry butt, likely one reused from another bottling rather than one of those seasoned ones, this Caol Ila is the perfect contrast to the linear, saline-driven version we bottled with Old Particular this year. Several of my customers have mentioned that it reminds them of peated sherried Bunnahabhain and I have to say I must agree. Indeed, there is some Bunnah in this little blend, but not enough to augment the character of this special barrel. The color is an inviting russet. The nose offers a great mixture of peat and sherry that doesn’t lean too heavily on either element. Bacon smoke, leather, ignited citrus oils, fresh innertube—very savory but not that hit of ocean or peat you might expect. On the palate—this is where it hits! Bit burning bunches of moss, chocolate orange truffle, black pepper, finally some saltiness as the finish grows. The spirit is quite fat and lengthy. With water, we lose some of the savory bacon notes on the nose, now more orange and spice. Big sweetness on the palate now and it remains extremely expressive and bold, with a tingly spicy finish. I love it both ways, but I’m going to lean toward straight.
Andrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: January 11, 2021
This particular bottling is perhaps one of the starkest examples of why we teaspooned so many casks this year. Ten-year-old cask strength Caol Ila (without the sherry finish) should cost at least 90 or 100 bucks. Add in a healthy sherry influence and you’re likely talking $120-$150 through normal channels with today’s tariffs. Our close partnerships and a teaspoon of Bunna have tanked the price of this dram to $70/btl. Irrespective of price, the whisky itself is perfect. It’s got tons of salt and smoke on the nose stirred together with the attendant scents of a fresh baked mixed berry pie. The palate is big and rich for a 10-year-old thanks to the fine sherry finish. Orange marmalade and toast with salted butter showcase classic Caol Ila character. A bit of burnt bacon fat jibes with cut apples and just a bit of the fine, humid woody smell of a dunnage warehouse. It’s a complex 10-year-old from one of the most important distilleries in Scotland, all at a truly unbeatable price point. The only thing that’s not to love is there is only one cask of it.