In our humble yet devastatingly accurate opinion, the single best way to grow your whiskey palate is to challenge it. If you have a smoky Islay in front of you, pour a sherried Speyside next, then followed by a bourbon cask refill. In order to sharpen your sensory perception of the differences, you have to frequently introduce style changes and flavor distinctions to your palate. It will then be time to progress even further. Pour three Islay malts and attempt to evaluate the distinctions interchangeably. Why? Your remarkable grasp of the obvious in that the smoky Islay malt swirling before you is indeed smoky may do it for you, but this whisky thing becomes so much more interesting when you can determine what kind of peaty smoke aroma is rising from your glass and why it is different from the others. If you want to understand Islay, you must challenge yourself. If you are successful, you will probably never want to leave.
Caol Ila is one such distillery that has a distinct grouping of aromas among others of the same style. Caol Ila 12, today’s assignment, bears perhaps the most floral and light makeup of the Islay malts. The distillery is the largest on the island, and consequently produces by far the most whisky, mainly for blends such as JW Black, Bells or Black Bottle. Their malt comes from Port Ellen maltings clocking in at a respectable 35 ppm. The entirety of their output is matured off site in 2nd and 3rd fill bourbon casks. The lighter style of Caol Ila can attributed to low level filled stills allowing for plenty of copper conversation as well as a high heart cut points for the lighter, purer flavors. On to our review.
SWC Group Review
Nose- A lighter affair peat wise, Burnt grass/straw, sour smoky with salty sea air. Slight medicinal note. Mellon rind with citrus peel. Fresh cereal notes, juniper feel.
Taste- Light smoke with honeyed, roasted almonds. Lemony, oily feel. Bitter, charred oak.
Finish- Salty smoke with a fresh citrus feel. Drying with some roasted almonds.
Comments- Overall not a whole lot of depth, but a simple elegance remains for the Islay enthusiast. Clean and mellow with a nice nose. A bit overpriced as well.
SWC Group Rating- 81/100
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