It’s about time I review some Caol Ila, this lovely Islay distillery which doesn’t come near being as “cool” as its popular cousins on the island (you know which ones I’m talking about, the ones that drink shandy and drive bad-ass cars on the weekends – the ones that everyone seems to want to hang out with…). Without this distillery I’d probably never have discovered what a lovely beverage whisky is, hence the reason for me to review a few bottlings. The first one is a nine-year-old one!
General facts: The whisky is 9 years old with an ABV of 57,2%, and itäs neither artificiually coloured nor chill-filtered. The spirit was distilled on the 13th of January 2006, bottled on the 20th January 2015 and has all this time been maturing on a bourbon cask with ref no 303051 and resulted in 301 bottles. Once upon a time a bottle cost about £147, but nowadays it’s sold out. This specific cask was chosen by SSMC: Scotch Single Malt Circle.
Colour: very light straw, almost colourless
Nose: Tangy peat smoke. Pancakes, quite a bit of cloudberry jam and a lot of fresh lemon. A slight touch of that rubbery note I so often find in Caol Ila. Oak and oiled leather. With time a faint, waxy note appears, and with some water the nose turns evidently sweeter and less peaty, with a nice touch of elderflower.
Taste: A super-smoked waffle, with heaps of rose pepper and the a big dollop och fruit sherbet as the taste develops. Somewhat one-sided and mostly roaringly cocky for now. Hopefully more nuances will appear with water, since it’s at the moment more fun than impressing. With water the oak appears more and the peppery notes intensifies while the peat smoke subdues a bit. Some sourdough bread becomes noticeable and also those little coffee candies (Kopiko I think they’re called).
Finish: The aftertaste consists of some peat, a bit of rubber and the a pretty evident note of candied lime zest en (ate a few of those as snacks during a vacation i Greece some years ago). With water the peat smoke becomes a bit more prominent and the fruitiness is toned down. Some burnt caramel and a sense of digestive biscuits at the very end.
Well, I’m not entirely convinced. This whisky is definitely cheeky and fun but I miss a midrange, a layered body. It’s kind of like four or five main taste notes are highlighted, while the rich background noise is taken out of the equation and then maxing the volume. A pleasant bad-boy but I’d have preferred some more complexity in order to be impressed.