Nose: Pickled onion Monster Munch, smoked kippers, white bait and a langoustine bisque. Running throughout smoked pears, seashells and fine sandy beaches. In the background, TCP and hospital floor cleaners with plenty of brine and a good twist of both salt and pepper seasoning. The addition of water sweetens things up with expressive lemon – zest, curd and jelly, whilst also focussing the peat influence on lump coal briquettes.
Taste: A booming arrival of intense ashiness (your palate may need a second sip to re-adjust). Briny water sits with shelled prawns and oysters drizzled in fresh lemon juice, whilst bitter chocolate is seasoned with both salt and pepper. The back-palate is tarry and oaky – fireplaces, road surfacing and plenty of still smouldering wood. Dilution ups the ante further – tarred felt roofs and beach huts with moist soils and wet coastal piers.
Finish: Medium, ashy, sooty and with lingering medicinalness offset by sweet lemon curd. Very drying though.
Let’s be clear – this Caol Ila is unsubtle – indeed, it’s about as large and roaring as this spirit gets at this age. An all on assault of fish, ash and tar. Frankly, I’m down with that. It’s therefore a shame that the back palate and finish deliver far too much dryness to compensate for the intensity. But if you fancy something a little wild and fun - release the Kraken.
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