Malt of the Month: August 2020

We choose our Malt of the Month to highlight some of the great whiskies of the world. Some are well known, some less so, but you can be certain that if it's our Malt of the Month, then you won't be disappointed. This month we've chosen:

The Whisky Exchange Malt of the Month – Caol Ila 18 Year Old Unpeated
The Whisky Exchange Malt of the Month – Caol Ila 18 Year Old Unpeated
Caol Ila 18 Year Old Unpeated

18 Year Old Unpeated Special Releases 2017

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Unpeated Caol Ila is a beloved feature of Diageo’s annual Special Releases, and this 2017 bottling is the oldest edition of it ever included in the range. It’s a beguilingly sweet and complex whisky that shows another side to the distillery, notes of Christmas biscuits, stewed peaches and honey, and just a wisp of smoke running through. Add a touch of water for a delicious aperitif.


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Tasting Notes

by Billy Abbott(The Whisky Exchange)

  • Nose: Pine and pastry: Christmas biscuits hanging from the tree. Herbal notes run through the middle with black pepper and a hint of sea spray. Water amplifies the maritime notes and pulls back the pine to reveal sweet apple sauce and cinnamon sugar.
  • Palate: Softer than expected from the nose, with chocolate-covered caramel digestives, Garibaldi biscuits and apple sauce to begin. A big grind of black pepper pops up in the middle of the palate, followed by stewed peaches and honey. Sweetness builds, backed up by a wisp of smoke, leading to a plateau of fragrant apple blossom, apples and honeysuckle. Water brings out more fruit and a piny sherbert tingle.
  • Finish: Intense apple with hints of bacon. Toffee and black pepper slowly fade to leave chocolate.
  • Comment: A surprisingly restrained Caol Ila, but with layers of complexity. The distillery never quite gets rid of all the smoke when they switch to unpeated spirit and the lick of peat at the back helps balance everything.



    About the Producer

    Caol Ila Caol Ila

    The distillery was built on Islay in 1846 on land overlooking the Sound of Islay – known as Caol Ila in Gaelic – by Hector Henderson. In 1972 the distillery was completely remodelled, expanding from only two stills to six, making it the largest distillery on Islay.

    Over the years, Caol Ila has become known for its liberal use of peat, resulting in ashy, smoky whiskies with lively citrus notes. However, Caol Ila has also produced unpeated single malts since the 1980s and, while these are not part of its regular range, the distillery releases an unpeated whisky at least once a year through Diageo’s annual Special Release series.

    2 Customer Reviews

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    • 5
      10 July 2020

      Just a superb whisky. Caol ila is Quickly becoming one of my favourite distillery’s. This is 59.8% yet it’s smooth enough to drink neat. If you add a little water the nose and flavours intensify dramatically. On the nose you get sweet citrus & Sharp fruits, morning dew, damp soil, vanilla, spices. The taste is intense, salty bursts, sweet, sour, spice, custard. There’s more, but my pallet isn’t experienced enough yet to pick them out. The finish is long, a hint of background smoke appears at last, very subtle though, sweetness, bitterness, chocolate, warming spices. It’s beautifully complex.

    • 5
      2 July 2018

      Fantastic, tried it with other Diageo releases including the Port Ellen 37 year old, and this was better!!