Caol Ila 18 Year Old
70cl / 59.8%
Special Releases 2017
- Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
- Distillery Bottling
Caol Ila 18 Year Old Reviews
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.
Tasting notes from the producerAppearance: Pale yellow gold.
Nose: Surprisingly weighty, with a meaty backbone that doesn't rely on the distillery's usual smoke for depth. Initially sharp and prickly, the first impression is of lemon zest, edging towards lemon drizzle cake and lemon sherbet sweets, or perhaps honeysuckle, vanilla cream and egg custard, along with toffee, green-leaf herbs, fruit gums and soft spiciness. Later, a dry minerality builds in the glass, adding a chalk and flint austerity. The addition of water softens the nose and adds fleeting scents of pine-sap and artist’s studio, against a maritime background.
Body: Weighty, with fast running legs.
Palate: The taste is sweet (boiled sweets), acidic (bitter lemon) and salty, walking a knife edge between all three. Occasionally it slips into sour orchard and sweet candied fruit, then into intense salted caramel and toffee. Hints of sea-spray dance the edges, along with barrel-char smokiness, oak, black-pepper spiciness and fresh clean notes. Finally, the fruit and char unite in triumph, as fresh-baked apple pies. Water amplifies both fruit and spice, with liquorice and orange zest, the spice gaining heat and a hint of chilli. With water, these primary tastes soften yet remain clear, becoming more rounded and accessible.
Finish: Warming, soft and long, with notes of vanilla and spiced pastry, succeeded by aniseed, polished oak, bittersweet liquorice and a last burst of red berries, which fades to soft spice, sweetness and oak.