Creag Isle 33 Year Cognac Cask Finish

Scotch Whisky Review #294: Creag Isle 33 Year Cognac Cask Finish

Distillery: Bowmore?

Bottler: Quality Spirits International

Region: Islay

Age: 33 Year.

ABV: 44.1%

Price: $225

Color: 0.9, Amontillado Sherry.

Nose: (according to the wife) (She hates it). It smells of smoked salmon, burnt tires (what she says all peat smells like), and lots of leather. (according to me) There’s a bit of smoke, not a ton, almost like the smell of a barbecue pit after the fire is put out. There’s a little trace of a musty, fruity note that I’ve had with a few older Bowmore’s, but just a very small trace. A little bit of sweet earth comes through along with a boozey crème brûlée. You don’t get it on the first whiff, but after a bit there’s a little bit of violet and heather that comes through as well.

Palate: It starts off quite oak forward and earthy. A bit of tobacco wafts in with some old peated malt. With a splash of water, the sweet old peat note intensifies. Leather comes through as well. Some more savory notes start to creep in as well in the form of burnt ends and smoked salmon.

Finish: Medium in length. The savory barbecue and smoked seafood notes from the palate continue on here. It’s again fairly earthy and gritty. Towards the back comes a wave of floral notes, largely in the form of lavender, violets, and heather. It isn’t overpowering by any means, but it almost feels like the earthiness is fighting it for control. The longer you leave it out, the more reigned in it seems to become with the earthy notes winning out. With water comes tobacco leaves, damp earth, and a slightly old apple note. There still a bit of violet that lingers there reminds me a lot of Parma Violets.

Conclusion: An old Islay bottled without the distillery name? Official tasting notes including floral notes, namely lavender? Cognac cask finish? Check, check, check. While there isn’t any official indication anywhere I can find on the internet, this is almost certainly Bowmore from their perhaps most infamous era. I admit, this was one where curiosity got the better of me (is FWP Bowmore really that bad?) and I have to say, I’m fairly relieved at the end result. While the floral notes are around, they most certainly not overpowering and absolutely do not make this taste like soap. The cognac cask finish seems to have reigned things in a bit, with a nice earthiness from start to finish to show for it. Some of the more subtle notes that you might expect to find are likely all stamped out as a result, which is a shame, but the savory meat and seafood notes that come through with the earthiness still makes for a nice whisky. There are floral notes for sure, but they have an additive effect rather than an overpowering one. Would I buy another bottle? Unlikely for another, but I don’t regret getting this one.

Final Score: 83.

Scotch Whisky Review #294, Islay Review #45, Whisky Network Review #437

Scoring Legend:

  • 96-100: The perfect dram, nectar of the gods.
  • 90-95: Near perfect, there is something truly special about this whisky.
  • 85-89: Amazing, will always try to keep a bottle of this in my collection (if feasible).
  • 80-84: Very Good, maybe only one minor nitpick about the whisky keeping it here.
  • 75-79: Good, quite enjoyable to drink.
  • 70-74: Solid, wouldn’t go out of my way to get it.
  • 60-69: Meh, still drinkable.
  • Below 59: If you have a bottle of this, start cooking with it instead.

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