Whisky Review by FWL Managing Editor Caroline Dewar
Most of Caol Ila’s output is used for some of Diageo’s famous blends including Johnnie Walker. It’s been bottled as a 12 year old single malt only since 2002. If you like your drams assertive in character, this is for you.
For some, Caol Ila is a taste preferred when it has put on a little more in years. Others adore this more standard age. It always makes me think of coal tar soap on the nose, no matter how old it is and this one has smoke bacon notes too. I sometimes find a dab of lychee on the nose of some Caol Ila expressions too. Its pale color masks an Islay malt of some intensity that packs a flavor punch.
Appearance: Pale straw.
Nose: Subdued, citric fruitiness; a whiff of bath oil and dentist's mouthwash. A fresh and appetising nose, with little or no trace of smoke.
Palate: Drinks well at natural strength; sweet start; pleasant, light fragrant smokiness and a lengthy finish.
Finish: Sweet smokiness in the lingering, slightly sour finish.
I would contrast that with notes from my late friend, whisky writer Helen Arthur, who said, “Light honey, citrus, coal tar soap [she and I agreed on that one] and a hint of smoke” on the nose with the palate described as, “Sweetness on the tongue at first, then smoke bonfires, dry almost bitter, yet the heather honey note remains with a medium finish.” Others get smoked meats and fish. It’s certainly a complex dram but medium rather than heavy bodied with some Islay oiliness