Friday Night Four: Caol Ila, Dornoch, Glentauchers, Highland Park

Four’s a solid number. From memory, Mr Strong’s favourite. If that’s not correct, this picture is all for nothing.

The ancient Greeks associated the number four with earthly balance, believing that everything was made of four elements: earth, air, fire and water.

Righty ho! At random, today we’ve three drams [once] available at Cut Your Wolf Loose [WLP] and a Diageo classic as a nightcap, taken in the pub afterwards.


First up is Dornoch cask #54 take 2 [WLP83], though tonight’s dram was my first contact.

Dornoch 2018/2222 04yo Ob. first-fill [100L] ex-bourbon cask #54 [btl #26/178] 55.5% [50cl] WB85.84[14] DF7/10

  • N: Fresh & fruity on the one hand, ginsky-esque & aspirin-ey on the other. In comparison to the many [whisky producers], oak-wise, this is another breed of wood resins. The same goes for the barley oils from those now dismissed grains.
  • T: Sharp/astringent, crisp savoury and salty, this isn’t your usual ginsky though there are certainly some similarities to say, Nc’nean.
  • F: Whilst not quite up my alley preference-wise, on reflection, let’s celebrate whisky made from low-yielding [plummage archer] barley, alternative yeast strains, and bijou cask selections.
  • C: My least favourite Dornoch so far, but ever commendable all the same. Quality remains high, Dornoch continuing to stand out from the new-distilleries crowd.

Scores 84 points


Glentauchers 2014/2020 06yo Boogieman ‘Scottish Warrior’ [199 bts] 53.9% WB86.94[37]

This release easily ticks Aqvavitae Roy’s ABCD’s, as do all the drams at CYWL.

  • N: Heavily sherried, this one should find an instant fanbase. Distillery character? Forget it. Flavour-wise, rather alluring.
  • T: It’s a sherry bomb, so what is there to talk about? Textural weight? Yes. Tastiness? Yep. Complexity? Hmmm,.. somewhat for a 6yo.
  • F: Vegetal, chewy, and a touch woody in the later stages. Sulphur? None.
  • C: A likeable [even loveable] young affordable dessert dram powerhouse from the Boogieman.

Scores 85 points


Highland Park 1999/2022 22yo CYWL 55%

I haven’t bought an official HP since they introduced their Viking nonsense alongside sky-rocketing prices, some years ago now! Thankfully, the independent bottlers have loads of the stuff, and the best of it too so it seems.

  • N: Oily honeyed coke-phenolic, floral citrus,… = vintage HP.
  • T&F: As is so often the case, the palate simply can’t live up to the nose, so enjoy the rest for what it is. Careful if diluting, there’s a woody bitter finish, even more so with water. 
  • C: Reminds me of some First Cask vintages from the 1980s. Worth the dram price for the nose alone.

Scores 86 points


Caol Ila 12yo [2022] Ob. 43% WB83.48[2655] WF86

The last time I tried this classic was in 2018 [WLP81], so I’m due a revisit.

  • N: A forward/vibrant/crisp oily peated nose, this is just as good as I remember it being fifteen years ago. 
  • T: It’s on the palate where my memory of this one differs and where I think it’s changed. It’s lost its [olive] oils for starters and is decidedly less vegetal.
  • F: A mildly savoury-sweet finish with new if soft wood-dry smoke.
  • C: I find this go-to Islay classic a few degrees better than in 2018, mostly down to that excellent nose. The rest is perfectly ‘fine’ if lacking intent.

Scores 84 points





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