Caol Ila was founded in 1846 and rebuilt in 1879 and 1972, and in 1974 six new stills were installed. As of 1999 also unpeated whisky is made, which is nice, but also makes you wonder about single casks sold to independents since that date. Mainly used for the Johnnie Walker blends, but more and more used as a single malt due to the popularity of Islay malts. If I’m not mistaken the first official bottlings were the Flora & Fauna 15yo and a few Rare Malt editions. In 2002 the 12yo, 18yo and a cask strength were released and a few years later a Moscatel finish Distillers Edition and Moch were released. During that time also three versions of a 25yo were released, I know were pretty good.
This whisky was distilled on December 12th 1984 and bottled 21 years later on September 6th, 2006, and was bottled for Belgian outfit, The Nectar.
Color: Light Gold.
Nose: Fat Peat with ash. Very leafy, as in fresh, non-musty wet leaves and crushed dried leaves. Sweet and balanced. Green apple skin. Sweaty, tarry and with distant flowery perfume. Hints of wood. Crushed beetles, (not Beatles). Sea with some smoke and late (dare I say unexpected) fruitiness.
Taste: Sweet and chewy, with elegant peat. Nutty, almonds and some walnut. Some white pepper and plants. Also the sweat returns which fits the profile. Nice balance. It has some unexpected fresh sourness in the warming finish. No wood to speak of, but it has the wood spice. Finally, some salt on the lips, during the yellow fruity finish (apricots and peaches obviously). Astonishing.
I quite like this. Due to its perfect sweetness this is dangerously drinkable. Not as complex as I might have hoped, but hey, it’s not a super old Islay, and we don’t drink those for their finesse do we? Caol Ila in al its guises is a very nice alternative to all the other (increasingly expensive) brothers from Islay.