2009 Caol Ila 6 Year Old "Hepburn's Choice" Single Sherry Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
On the strength of the previously popular young, peated whiskies we've been importing, we went back to the well again this year. This time, however, we asked the folks from Hepburn if they had any of that same fiery Caol Ila aged in sherry cask. Luckily they did and it's that little highlight of sweetness that makes all the difference between this year's selection and older editions. The classic elements of Islay are at play, of course: smoke, peat, earth and sea salt, but they're accented by a richness from the sherry. There's a nice little coating of cakebread and cocoa around that core of Caol Ila, rounding the edges and tempering the bold 58.9% cask strength character just the slightest bit. The best part, however, is the price. We managed to keep the cost right at $49.99, despite the extra year in barrel and the added bonus of the sherry. For the money, you'd be hard pressed to find a more potent Islay value anywhere.