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North Star Spirits Cask Series 005-Part II

In Part-II, a review of Orkney and Caol Ila from the North Star Spirits Cask Series 005.

In Part-I I reviewed the Campbeltown, Macduff and Glentauchers from North Star Spirits. In Part-II I dive into the Orkney and Caol Ila. On to the review.

Orkney 12yr old Single Malt
Orkney 12yr old Single Malt


Orkney 12yr @ 57.8%

Wood- Refill Bourbon Hogshead

Distilled Mar'06|Bottled May'18

Non-chill filtered|Natural colour

Outrun- 362

Colour: Rice bran oil

Nose: A touch solventy initially. Smoky caramel, vanilla and honey. Orange citrus, apples and pears. With water it get oily and a lot fuller. Dried dill seeds, salt and peat.

Palate: Spicy. Garam masala (Indian spice mix). Sweet smoky caramel continues. Quite a bit of heat on the palate. Bitter oak coming through now. Very bitter in fact. Water improves the delivery a little. Oily. Pushes the fruit forward. Bananas, pears and green apples. With a little rest, I get a curious note of dill seeds tempered in coconut oil. There is also a distinctly herbal quality to the peat. Bitterness continues.

Finish: Long with bitter orange oils and wood smoke.

Impressions: It's an open secret that whiskies which have an Orkney label are mostly Highland Park and this one is no different. I felt this one lacked the balance and poise of the old HPs which I used to absolutely adore. Sadly with HP these days, I mostly tend to use the past tense more often than not. I was hoping that this dram would take me back to those glory days but in my book the experience falls short. Don't get me wrong. On its own it is a perfectly good whisky. It's just a bit too in-your-face for a HP. Or perhaps I'm being too sentimental.


Caol Ila 12yr Old Single Malt
Caol Ila 12yr Old Single Malt


Caol Ila 12yr @ 54.6%

Wood- Refill Bourbon Hogshead

Distilled Apr'06|Bottled May'18

Non-chill filtered|Natural colour

Outrun- 276

Colour: Chardonnay

Nose: Sweet peat upfront. Not as medicinal as I was expecting. Almost feels like a smoky white wine. Stewed fruits. Sweet lime and grilled pineapples. With a little time it gets peat forward. Burnt husks, soot, empty cigarette pack. Water subdues the peat and makes it more citrus sweet with hints of coconut oil in the background.

Palate: Follows the nose. Soft peat, barley sugar and sweet lime. The peat has a lot less impact on the palate as opposed to the nose. Good amount of heat. A little thin. The sweetness is nicely balanced with bitter notes on the mid palate. With water the mouthfeel improves a lot. It gets creamy and fuller but the peat recedes even more. Peat-heads would be well advised against adding water.

Finish: Lingering smoke with a hint of green cardamom.

Impressions: A very nice young-ish Caol Ila. Peat-heads may find the soft sweet peat a little too tame. In fact this aspect is very similar to the Series 002 Islay 8yr old. Arrival and development are very much measured. This laid back delivery works for me. I'd much prefer a leisurely Islay drive than a full throttle drag.


Overall Impressions: Series 005 is yet another dependable and satisfying offering from North Star covering most of the regions (except Lowland) from Campbeltown, Highland, Speyside to Islay and Island. Even in terms of age you have the Campbeltown malt blend at 4yrs to Vega 41yrs. Then there was also the Spica 20yr old blend introduced in this series. I wish I could have included the Spica & Vega as well but my bottles are somewhere in the UK and will remain there for the foreseeable future unless I make that trip soon.

My pick from this sampling is the Glentauchers. Wonderful character and full of flavour. Keeps evolving each time you revisit. Great balance and progression. It just ticks all the right boxes. Such an underrated distillery. The Caol Ila was lovely as well. Again the balance between the peat and the citrus-sweet fruity character was really nice. The Orkney a good dram on its own. A non-sherry matured, cask strength version of the standard 12 yr old (pre-viking) official bottling if you will. But since its turbocharged I missed the impeccable balance and gentle heathery character of the former. The Campbeltown is an interesting experiment. Sure it's young and raw but it also shows how quickly the cask influence has begun to exert itself. If Iain still has stock it would be nice to see an eight or ten year old version for comparison with the four. And lastly the Macduff which clearly wasn't my cup of tea. Simply too boring and lifeless.

Price wise good value for money across the range considering the Vega 41yr retailed at £155 or thereabouts. I haven't come across a 41 yr old whisky from any source at that price! Take this for instance. Compass Box has announced a new blended malt Tobias & The Angel, yet another Clynelish-Caol Ila combo-no-age-statement-blend for a whopping £450. Or the Speyside Region blended malt whisky 43 yr old from the Whisky Agency which retails for £399. And the list can go on. Are these significantly superior to the Vega 41 to warrant such pricing? Maybe, maybe not. I honestly don't know. But what I do know is that such pricing almost certainly seals the fate of these bottles. Excuse the pun. They never get opened and remain confined to the trophy cabinet or get flipped.

All images courtesy@North Star Spirits

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