Provenance 2010 Caol Ila 5 years old

I hate it when the last rays of summer are still shining brightly and the Christmas invasion has already begun. The Big Peat Christmas edition has been revealed, festive items are appearing on the shelves and it seems the countdown for many has commenced. It's all too premature and snatches the last few glorious moments of warmth out of your hands.

Bitching aside the arrival of autumn and winter forces me to consider my peated whisky stocks. Normally a couple of good, well priced peated exponents, cuts through any harsh Scottish cold evening. The excellent 8 year old heavily peated Bunnahahbain is nearing bottle kill status so the quest was on for an affordable peated youngster; step forward this 5 year old Caol Ila bottled as part of the Douglas Laing Provenance range.

Earlier this year I attended a tasting of the Provenance range as part of the Spirit of Speyside whisky festival, which you can read the full article here. It was a mixed bag but it did underline you can pick up younger whiskies for around £40 or less that offer an experience. The range offers that Holy Trinity being bottled at a delicious 46% strength from a single cask with no colouring or chill filtration. These should result in major ticks of approval from any whisky enthusiast.

This certainly on paper will fill the pending vacancy for a peat beast amidst my winter collection. Normally I don't read official tasting notes but as these are kindly printed on the bottle label its hard to avoid! The big and phenolic from 3 feet away certainly grabs your attention. If you didn't know, over time in the cask the influence and prominence of peat fades, so here we're very much at the young raging bull end of the spectrum.

The store I purchased this from stated that they couldn't keep up with demand as this was the last bottle. For around £40 it was prompting repeat purchases from the peat heads and bargain whisky hunters. Overall it was a straightforward impulse decision to make and then unleash the beast at home.

Distilled in December 2010 before being bottled in March 2016 from a refill hogshead. Caol Ila is always a solid whisky enjoyed by many although I still remain disappointed by their official 2016 Feis Ile offering earlier this year.

Colour: a sugar spun decoration
Nose: sea shells, icing sugar, a spent matchstick and pungent autumnal vegetation that you would expect. Beyond the staple characteristics reside lemon, candy floss, flint and lime juice.
Taste: well its peat and more peat for sure. Mixed in with lashings of vanilla and a sandpaper finish - odd but distinctive! Winter foliage adding to that decayed characteristic and charcoal.    

Overall: young and feisty this Caol Ila is dominated by the peat which you'd expect at just 5 years old. For those cold winter evenings this blast of Islay will be a welcome tonic. A simple but effective peated whisky.

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