A few weeks back, at a whisky club meeting in the community hall we frequently douse in fine and rare Scotch whisky, a good mate of mine, Joey, brought me a little flask. I don’t recall his exact words (even though this was at the beginning of the night, before the madness ensued), but he said it was a Caol Ila.
I took it home, poured it into a glass sample bottle and left it on the shelf until it caught my eye again about a week and a half ago. I paired it up with a couple other Caol Ila samples (’cause that’s the way I try to taste these things) and sat down with pen in hand.
Now…to be fair to this one, I did try it against a couple of 30+ year old expressions. It came across more feisty and more lively, but maybe a little more shallow in terms of complexity. To be expected and, if you know me, not at all outside my preference. I like peated malts with personality. That’s not to suggest this was a young’un. Even blind (knowing only that it was Caol Ila) I could tell there was some age on it. 21 years, I found out later, and from a 2006 vintage.
All in all, this was textbook Islay, if not immediately recognizable as Caol Ila. A lot of brilliant flashes of flavor and aroma with just the slightest off note. Sulphur? Maybe. Tough to tell, but something threw this one off just a tick. Still a rock solid malt.
Nose: Smoke and rubber. Lively fruits, particularly lemon (and maybe lime). Chewy candies, not gummies. Ashy. Orange zest. Butter tarts. Smoked, oily fish. Heavy, almost burnt caramel. Thick and viscous.
Palate: Liorice. Grilled lemon. A fair heft of oak and smoke. Pastry. Oily again, and actually a little drying. Long and smoky finish with some grass at the back.
Thoughts: Vibrant. Lively. Hints at some sulphur, but I’m on the fence as to whether or not I’m imagining it.
* Thanks, Joey. Fun one to try. Love tasting blind like this.
– Images & Words: Curt