Long days I’ve waited for this one. I held off and held off. Some reviews spoke of mediocrity and of this malt not adding much to the range that can’t be pipped with the flagship 12 y.o. Hmmmm. What the f*ck were they drinking?
Sadly, this expression is few and far between in Canadian stores. In fact, I believe that what is still around today is simply the dusty ol’ dregs of previous allocations that for whatever reason never sold. In one l’il neighborhood ma and pa shop I managed to find this one.
Caol Ila, by nature, is a fairly delicate spirit from Islay. It may seem counter to intuition to refer to a heavily peated Islay malt as ‘delicate’, but think of it as a ‘Notre Dame’. Beautiful and seemingly fragile, all buttressed and decked out in ornate gothic accoutrements…but still made of stone. Not much different here.
I gotta say too…18 is a damn sexy age for Caol Ila. There is a beautiful balance between vibrancy and maturity.
The nose boasts notes of something slightly ‘green’ (but frustratingly intangible and metaphorically elusive). Some aloe and honeydew melon are well met by mild citrus and a brininess typical of Islay. Fruits start to emerge at this age and the mild feintiness that accompanies the 12 y.o. has faded by this point. Of course the smoke has also done the slow fade as well (though not a full retreat).
Delivery is great green fruit with a hint of smoke that wasn’t so prevalent on the nose. Veers into green apple and peat from here before a vanilla oaky finale. Light and satisfying.
As to those other reviews…
All I can say is…what were they thinking? 18 is a great age for Caol Ila. Do not turn your back on this one if you can find it.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Pat