Distiller: Caol Ila. Region: Islay. ABV: 43%. Age: 18 years. Price: $85-95.
Caol Ila is a connoisseur’s favorite, justly dubbed Islay’s “Mr. Consistent” by Whisky Advocate Magazine. We should be happy then that it still shows up all over: there are many excellent independent bottlings, it’s frequently a component in Compass Box’s brilliant blends, and it provides much of the peat in Johnnie Walker.
The flagship 12-year-old bottling has long been a staple for me, but the 18 doesn’t make it to the States, so I jumped at the opportunity to grab a bottle during a recent trip to Paris. Boy, am I glad I did.
The nose is an amazing balance of freshness and softness. Lime, grapefruit, vanilla custard. Saltwater taffy. Orange creamsicle. The sweetest, mildest peat smoke, and a distant hint of sea breeze.
Candied orange on the palate, then that orange creamsicle again. Later on, white chocolate with flecks of candied ginger. That same softness from the nose throughout.
The finish brings allspice and clove, Belgian waffle drizzled in orange syrup, and a fuzzy peaty warmth.
With the current Brexit pricing (as of February 2017), this and many other UK/EU-only releases are more accessible than ever at places like Master of Malt. I’ll be tempted to grab another when this one’s gone.
Slàinte, friends! – BO