Let’s go back to the 2019 edition of the Campbeltown festival and Feis ile by trying those 4 bottlings. Let’s forget those actual strange times we are living and remember how those days were « back in the day »! (I’m feeling old just by writing this, trust me)
Hazelburn 21yo 1997-2019 (46%, OB, Springbank Open Day 2019, Refill Sherry Hogshead, 222 bottles)
Nose: The sherry markers are obviously present in this dram. Grassy notes, straw, toffee, coffee bean, salted butter caramel, old cigar box, candied lemon zest and hints of iodine and see shells.
Mouth: The alcohol integration is perfect and the texture is a bit oily. Candied lemon zest, freshly cut lemons, nutmeg, sea salt, iodine, chalk, leather, red berries, cigar box, old dusty book and noble wood. Very nice mouth even if was expecting something a bit more complex.
Finish: Mid-Long. In perfect harmony with mouth but there is also a delicate citruses freshness lingering more than anything else.
It isn’t the most complex dram obviously but it’s a really easy to enjoy and easy to drink dram and it’s just perfect in the role of the Springbank Open-day bottling! I’m pretty sure those bottles disappeared as fast as expected during the festival!
Bowmore 15yo (51.7%, OB, 1st Fill Bourbon, Feis Ile 2019, 3000 bottles)
Colour: Light gold.
Nose: A pinch of sea salt and a lot of roundness. Brine, hints of mineral notes, unripe yellow fruits, peaches, apples, heather honey, medicinal notes, cookie dough, pastry notes and hints of coastal peat.
Mouth: The alcohol integration is perfect and the texture is very oily. It’s powerful with, black pepper, mineral notes, unripe tropical fruits, wood smoke, medicinal notes and a lot of sea salt, brine and iodine that didn’t let you forget where it is from!
Finish: Long. Brine, pinch of sea salt, wood smoke, cold ashes, fire camp on the beach and lemon zest.
Very nice dram with a quite complex and very effective profile. It was released at a very fair price (Around 85 euros) and it’s honestly a perfect festival bottling!
Lagavulin 19yo (53.8%, OB, Feis Ile 2019, Sherry-Treated American Oak Cask, 6000 bottles)
Colour: Deep gold.
Nose: Some sherry markers, leather, raisins, cigar box, candied orange, roasted coffee beans, hints of smoke and bacon.
Mouth: The alcohol integration is pretty good but not perfect and the texture is very oily. There are like two different sides in this mouth. The first one with coastal peat and malt notes and the other side with more wine and sherry notes. The mouth is actually fluctuating between those two worlds and… it’s pretty good!
Finish: Long. Coastal peat, barley, grassy notes, candied orange zest and demerara sugar.
What a shame that this alcohol integration was not perfect because every other aspect were very good! When they get us used to perfectly integrated 12yo CS releases you expect the same of a more special and important bottling like this one!
Caol Ila 22yo (58.4%, OB, Feis Ile 2019,Sherry-treated American Oak Casks, 3000 bottles)
Colour: Deep gold with copper hues.
Nose: Round and coastal. Candied lemon zest, sea salt, brine, iodine, flower honey, gentle wood smoke, seaweed, herbal notes, wet straw, mentholated freshness. It’s very good and complex.
Mouth: The alcohol integration is perfect and the texture is very oily and thick. It’s very very powerful, with a razor-sharp and very complex coastal profile. Seaweed, brine, sea salt, iodine, chalk, mineral notes, tar, fruity notes and some delicate wood smoke adding some dryness to the mix. One comes after another, it’s just constantly evolving, wow!
Finish: Very long. Iodine, medicinal notes, brine, Belgian mussels, campfire and a lot of sea salt.
That coastal profile is very impressive and full of complexity. Yet it is balanced, powerful and perfectly integrated. Probably one of the best relatively young Caol Ila that I tasted. Kudos to Caol Ila to release such a bottle for the Feis Ile 2019!
Those festival bottlings were just all very good but that Caol ila is a real stunner, really! I really love how all those distilleries do some hard work to release some very nice bottlings for these festivals.
Today, during an hour I was in Campbeltown and then on Islay breathing that coastal air and it was freaking good to be there! It’s time to find a Doloreane…