Some things never change - especially the pleasing predictability of Society Caol Ila. This one is notably pale and drawn from a refill ex-bourbon barrel.
Nose: Olive oil and white wine are poured over a bowl of mussels and cockles whilst lemon gel and slate join soured green apples, squid ink and slate. Simple enough. The addition of water revealed felt-like fabric together with shellfish bisque, seaweed and salinity.
Taste: Interestingly ‘green’. Salad leaves, moss and damp leaves lead into bell peppers and lemon slices. Far less smoke and minerality than you’d expect from this distillery. Smoked cashew nuts, mentholated oak and cough sweets bring up the rear. Water offers a softness in the arrival and more potency in the development – juicy apples and lemon gel – into golden syrup char and salt.
Finish: Medium and delivering salinity and finally some anticipated rockiness from pebbles and beach sand.
Somewhat divergent away from the triptych of lemon, minerals and medicinal peat – but nevertheless enjoyable – it is after all quite difficult to present a truly bad Coal Ila! This is another whisky that I far preferred when taken down a couple of degrees – don’t be afraid to similarly play with it.