By odd coincidence, I drank this sample immediately after retrying the 2002 (2005?) Fuchaju "Ailaoshan", which may be the only two cakes from this mountain that I have tried. Both came from Yunnan Sourcing, separated by four years.
This Yunzhiyuan version is a respectable 18 of your American bucks, and comes from an area that is remarkably close to the entirely wallet-destroying 2011 Yunzhiyuan "Wuliang". Like the latter, this Ailaoshan cake comes from Jingdong county in Simao prefecture, which is to Simao's north where it joins Lincang and Dali. The farm was in Wangjia village, writes Scott.
He writes that this cake has less bitterness and that it is "more subtle" than its neighbour. You can imagine that this translates into my prior assumption that it might not be quite as accomplished as the Wuliang.
The soup of this Ailao looks different to the Wuliang, in that it is pure yellow. Likewise, its aroma is correspondingly different being a pure, orthodox, white-sugar sweetness. However, it is full and long-lasting in its aroma, which is a very good sign.
Some of its basis is the same as its Wuliang neighbour, in that it has a gentle tobacco underneath it. However, it is a much lighter tea, and perhaps that reduction in obvious content suggests that the aging process has less to act upon.
This is similar to the Fuchaju version, but the latter has the advantage of being much stronger, which is perhaps the cause of its renaissance into a very drinkable somewhat aged tea. This Yunzhiyuan version is, indeed, more subtle, more buttery, and more "normal".
This is not at all bad for a mere $18, and Scott should be commended for selling it at the right price. That said, in a line-up between this somewhat more ordinary example and the stunning, provincial beauty of its sister, it's not much a competition.