Gordon & MacPhail first matured this 18-year-old Caol Ila for 10 years in former bourbon barrels, then for a further 8 years in selected ex-Sassicaia wine barrels. Distilled: 30.09.1994 Bottled: November 2012 Circulation: 1,100 bottles.
Appearance: Auburn/autumnal leaves. A decent tide mark forms with many teardrops. Some beading after a short time and plenty of medium trails down the glass. An oozy film coats the glass.
Nose: Not a huge amount of ABV (not necessarily a bad thing). Caramel and toffee forward. A definite vegetal note accompanies the sweeter aromas, as well as a smouldering bonfire, liquorice and some salinity.
It’s a very distinctive and unique nose, I assume from that Sassicaia. There’s a woody menthol quality to the nose too.
Palate: Quite a nice mouthfeel, not particularly viscous though. The ABV hits harder on the palate than the nose too.
The smoke is more prominent on the palate. Cherry wood, blackcurrant and a general friendly sweetness appear after a short while, it’s growing on me!
That vegetal, savoury element balances against the fruits, along with a decent hit of white pepper.
Finish: Long. White pepper-dusted cherries and blackcurrants. A touch astringent but nicely chest-warming.
Overall: It’s ‘ok’. It starts slightly lacking, offers promise in the middle and then fades at the end. I think with time and a full bottle to explore it would offer a lot more and improve.