Despite living in London for nearly all my life, I have to confess that I’ve never been inside Harrods. My image of what they sell, therefore, is largely based on period drama TV shows where it’s somewhere you send your manservant to pick up caviar for supper.
This is probably no longer true.
One thing I never imagined them selling is whisky, so when I received an email asking if I’d like to sample something from their stocks for Burns Night, I was both surprised and curious to see what this symbol of luxury consumerism had to offer.
This is the 53.2% ABV Caol Ila 25 Year Old, bottled exclusively for Harrods by independent bottlers Douglas Laing. It’s a single cask bottling, with just 171 bottles being produced.
It has the traditionally pale straw colouring of Caol Ila, with a slightly oily look.
The nose is light, with pale honey sweetness, damp grass and a hint of unburned peat. The cask strength shows in sugary ethanol, with an almost solvent-like character which also carries just a whiff of smoke.
Watered, the aromas open up to reveal more grain notes, sea spray and distant heather, at the expense of the honey.
It’s gloriously rich and warming on the tongue; smoky bonfires on the beach, salted toffee, wonderfully smooth with a lingering, gently sweet finish that coats your mouth and throat like molten chocolate.
Water robs the whisky of a lot of that warmth and richness, revealing lighter lemon citrus flavours and a greater saltiness. That wonderful, smouldering finish is greatly diminished too, and I think it’s fair to say that watering a whisky like this is a terrible waste.
I adore Caol Ila and this is a wonderful example – a perfect dram for a wet and stormy Burns Night. 4.5 stars.
Many thanks to Harrods for sending me this sample. This single cask bottling is available from for £195.