Check out that bottle! One of the coolest, most retro looking pieces of whisky-ware I’ve yet seen. Not that we decide our whisky opinions on the aesthetics, but credit where credit is due, right? Of course, it doesn’t hurt that we’re sipping a 31 year old cask strength from one of Islay’s most consistently enjoyable distilleries. Especially as regards older malts.
Caol Ila ages beautifully. I think we’ve discussed this in other places. In many ways it’s like the poor man’s Port Ellen. The spirit is peated to about the same specs, would have been casked into wood procured under the same wood policy and, in cases such as this, matured to an age we see most Port Ellen releases at. Let’s not forget that Diageo owned Caol Ila, Lagavulin and Port Ellen at the same time. But at the heart of it all, the most important factor is that the oily spirit marries well with wood for extended periods of time. In fact…I don’t believe I’ve ever met an over-oaked Caol Ila.
And as for this Silver Seal…gorgeous. Rich and classic. Elegant, to be sure, but with enough bombast to please the discerning. The phenols in this malt fade to wispy tendrils of austere beauty, but that mature smoke brings a complexity I miss in modern malts.
Let’s face it…the Italian independent bottlers know their whisky. Between these guys, Samaroli and Wilson & Morgan there are some spectacular casks on the market.
Nose: Slightly doughy with a pepper note. Some light peat and smoke. Hints of candy and bubblegum. Nice citrus backbone. A hint of grassy, herbal tea notes. A hint of savoury herb, maybe oregano. Salt and pepper.
Palate: Grassy arrival. Very oily. More smoke now. Oak is assertive, but pleasant. Neat fruity and sweet development. Linseed oil. Citrus peel. Earthy, peaty notes sprinkled all over this one. Nice tart closeout here.
Thoughts: Very nice whisky. Rich throughout. Balanced and delicious. This is the first Silver Seal malt I’ve tried. Hope to get my hands on more.
– Images & Words: Curt