Port Askaig is a town (and a port) on the island of Islay (on the north-west), and is also the name of yet another ‘Mystery Dram’ bottled by the Whisky Exchange. The range of Port Askaig bottling consists of a 17 yo , 25 yo, 30 yo and a Cask strength NAS. If you take a look at the Islay map, you will easily spot Caol Ila distillery very near Port Askaig, which leaves very little to guess where this malt is distilled. Also, this time the saying “If you can’t point your finger on a mystery malt, It’s probably a Coal Ila” proves right. It’s not really a secret anymore, and Coal Ila is indeed the distillery behind the PA line.
i was very interested in tasting this line, and only now got to sample the CS expression. So let’s start dramming.
Port Askaig Cask Strength, 57,1%, Whisky Exchange 2009 , £39
Nose : Lemon , peat and sweet notes. Maltiness with some fresh dough. Apples in brine. Engulfed by peat and smoke.
Palate : starts sweet sugary and honeyed then the peat attack starts. Waves of peat attack your palate , followed by chilly. Big bodied and great impact. Some saltiness on the edges a if seawater enter.
Finish : Long, ashy Peat. As if you’re chewing on a cold cigar. Lovely Islay finish, . Some coffee notes also.
Now let’s compare this CS Caol Ila to the “official” Caol Ila Original Cask Strength I’ve tasted a while ago with the rest of the CI core range, just to make it interesting. Will they differ? Will they be similar?
Caol Ila Natural Cask Strength , 60.1 %, £40
Nose : lemon zest. Much more lemon than the PA. Brine. Wee smoke and some peat. Melon (in a Coal Ila? , yes sir!)
Palate : massive peat on entry. Wow. Overwhelming. Then sugary elements enter the peaty whirlpool and integrate nicely with Sea spray. Smoke and peat ashes echoing until finishing.
Finish : peat embers and ash. Wood and distant fires on a beach.
The two bottlings are similar, but not identical. The Caol Ila is more lemony and citrusy and more Peaty on palate. Entrance and sheer impact is bigger, while the PA is more well-behaved for a CS and sweeter on the palate with more malty notes.
If you ask me, I prefer the OB Coal Ila, due to it’s power, kick and interesting mélange of flavors (sweet, then peaty and briny). It’s like its better integrated than the PA . But, It’s not saying that the PA is not a very enjoyable Islay. I do like it a lot as well (keep in mind the CA CS is my favorite among the CI core range)
Now, I’d very much like to have both on my bar, but if i could choose only one, The PA would be left out… Sorry but this time the OB is bottle of choice.