Origin: Isle of Islay (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon and ex-Wine
Added coloring: No
Average price: € 120.00
Official website: www.malts.com
While Caol Ila’s independent editions are an almost infinite number, so much so that it is often on a (young) Caol Ila that the choice of the first bottling of any new and gallivanting IB falls, the bottlings released directly by the distillery are very few indeed, as if it were a legacy from when their liquid ended up almost exclusively in blendeds.
Hence, special editions are also in short supply, which, beyond the annual Distillers Edition and Special Release, have lately been limited to the special release for Fèis.
For two years, however, in 2017 and 2018, Caol Ila released two editions exclusively for visitors to the distillery, in not exactly limited versions (3,000 and 6,000 bottles, respectively) and cask strength: why they didn’t go ahead is unknown.
And it is precisely from the distillery that the second (and last, so far) exclusive bottling, still widely available locally, comes. It is the result of the combination of first and refill ex-bourbon casks and first-fill charred ex-California wine casks.
Rather pungent on the nose, the wine’s influence makes itself felt with a load of tart red fruits (currants, wild strawberries, goji berries) and pink grapefruit squeezed over crisp bacon, pine needles, sulphur, almonds and boat keel. At the bottom, a sweeter, softer layer of peach melba, honey and baked apple. Captivating.
A lively and spicy mouthfeel, lots of black pepper and ginger accompanied by nutmeg and a touch of aniseed, opening the dances on a distinctly more coastal score with pickled olives, grilled scallops, wet rocks, salt in profusion and intense, full-bodied smoke. There is no lack of a sweeter, fruitier component of custard, citrus marmalade, red fruits and almonds, with veins of roasted coffee beans and liquorice, and a slight vegetal note along the length.
Fairly long finish of smoke, red fruits, citrus, salt and a balsamic note.
Not exactly the typical Caol Ila and for that very reason more interesting, playing a lot on the influence of the casks in search of different and interesting evocations. Not a monster of complexity, but the alternation between nose and palate entertains and amuses.