Nose: Salty and briny with vanilla ice cream, lemon sherbet, pineapple, white pepper and a hint of smoke.
Palate: A creamy texture with buttery and toffeed notes added to the salinity and vanilla that were present on the nose.
Finish: The toffee and vanilla continue right through to the end, with a medium to long length, which is excellent for an ‘entry level’ whisky.
Comment: An excellent introduction into peated Islay whiskies.
Nose: Textbook Caol Ila lemon zest, but creamier & less assertive than I remember the 12yo. A few youngish notes that disperse quickly. Honey and cream soda. Some grassy notes & fresh hay. A biscuity note. Faint smoke, but nothing scary. In short: Lemon meringue pie. Not mind-blowingly complex, but that’s not what we’re looking for here, and it’s certainly very pleasant and inviting. This reminds me a lot of a younger, toned-down version of Port Askaig 17yo. For some reason.
Palate: Medium-bodied. Slides across the tongue like an oilslick (the good kind of oilslick, I mean). And then the peat hits. Smoky phenols from out of nowhere. This is much better now, with a hot-buttered-toasty soot and woodsmoke character. These phenols take root on the palate, which seems drying, yet somehow retains the soft, silky mouthfeel and the creamy lemon sherbertiness even in the midst of the bonfire. A very clever trick. A lesson in balance – not rough enough to be too challenging, but certainly retaining plenty of oomph and youthful vigour to be refreshing and very more-ish.
Finish: The smoke and soot linger, and the overall finish is longer than expected for a young whisky. A dryness at the death demands the glass be refilled.
Comment: A hugely enjoyable romp through Islay’s middle ground. Moch is the whisky that Ardbeg Blasda should have been. Where Blasda fell down was in sacrificing both strength and peatiness – Moch, at 43%, is a sensible strength for a whisky of this comparative youth, and is certainly softer and more approachable than the 12yo, without ever becoming too beige and boring.
Most importantly, they’ve kept the smoky bite that a young Islay whisky needs (and the nerds demand), as well as the balancing honeyed sweetness that makes this a genuinely pleasurable drinking whisky.
Appearance: Pale gold. Good viscosity.
Nose: Unreduced, clean and fresh like wet, salty sand after the tide has receded. Some smoke behind, as from an old bonfire. Adding a little water brings up more freshness.
Palate: Unreduced, sweet and salty with a balancing acidity, and fresh as a sea breeze. The trademark clean and smoky character of Caol Ila is here. Appetising. Adding water gives a smoother, softer, sweeter feel, still very maritime, with a nice texture. Sweetly drying overall.
Medium bodied, elegant and smooth.
Finish: Quite short, drying and warming with a little bitterness. Lingering smoky aftertaste.
Summary: An absolutely straightforward, no nonsense Caol Ila. Crisp, assertive, direct, and unmistakeable.
Nose: First whiff and i'm right back on that beach, with my mates, sunset slowly emerging. It has the exact same foam banana sweets note that the Askaig has. Give it a swirl and orange and lemon fruit jellies start to appear, the merest hint of coal dust, some floral perfume (honeysuckle) and butterscotch covered popcorn. An absolute delight.
Palate: Slightly gritty at first, then straight into toffee mint humbugs, fruit sherbet and a wave of really delicate soft peat, which acts as a blanket on the tongue, as the fruity zestiness dances all over it. The next sip does the same, then the next and the next. It's consistent and totally moreish.
Finish: The peat subsides and leaves a lingering ashy note, but the only thing you can think about is having a drop more.
Overall: Let me make this clear. This is a perfect whisky for sitting round with your pals, getting a takeaway, listening to the new Arcade Fire record or, if you're anything like us, just remembering a few enjoyable, slightly misspent times on an island which has left an indelible mark on all of us. Grab, open, pour, enjoy, re-pour, enjoy some more. Easy.