Over to Islay for an 11 year old Caol Ila distilled back in July of 2006. No messing around – this has been matured in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead. Lightly Peated profile.
Nose: Initially quite sweet with spiced candy canes, sweet smoke and a chilli pepper martini. Peating is slightly saccharine with a touch of TCP and brine, but also coal dust and sea air. Deeper, some farmyard hay, pebbles and rockpools alongside liquorice and light menthol. Water brings out some citrus notes as well as cinnamon.
Taste: A powerful arrival with chilli, BBQ and sugar-dusted peat bricks. As described, the development of this one is quite brisk, moving through hard candy sweets and coastal minerality onto peppery spice and gentle baked goods all in the space of a few seconds. The addition of water brings the fruit elements forward – adding lemon whilst reducing the initial chilli attack.
Finish: Relatively short with sweet smoke, roast ham and tangy citrus.
A tasty if brief Caol Ila that ably marries sweetness, smoke and spice. Whilst water provides some calming balance here, there’s still something appealing about the natural 59.2% version which most certainly is robust.