Young Caol Ila is regularly seen on the monthly outturns – but not usually in the Heavily Peated flavour profile. This one is an 11 year old matured in a refill ex-bourbon barrel.
Nose: Impactful and full of maritime-forward aromas – seashells, langoustines and briny water. Added to this are roasted meats, sauces and gravies – which provide both depth, but also a sense of sweetness. Peat smoke is pronounced and pervasive – tarry ropes, iodine and hospital floors. In the background, vegetables – a why not, they go well with both seafood and Sunday roasts! – BBQ’d sweetcorn, carrots and crispy potatoes.
Taste: An intense arrival of high impact phenolic peatiness. Short ribs in a sticky sweet glaze, beef with a reduced chocolate sauce and scallops charred just enough to release their natural sweetness. The peat influence starts fresh, sweet and slightly citric, but builds steadily into a roiling wave of penetrating medicinal smoke – dense and deep with surface cleaner, hospital floors, Dettol and iodine.
Finish: Medium to long, sweet, but still with plenty of smoky ash.
A real powerhouse Caol Ila that offers as much strong character as it does flavour. Much more peaty than any of the recent SMWS bottlings I’ve sampled. Big, bold whisky and my pick from this month’s outturn.