Thanks to /u/smoked_herring for the sample.
Continuing on the new review series that I’m calling “Caol Ila doesn’t sound like anything I can make a joke about and I need to name a series oh well just don’t write what I just said, yes this part.”
We all have secrets. For some of us, it’s as simple as we like to dip fries in ice cream or are into really weird kinky sex. These simple things would make it awkward to discuss around the dinner table, but people would get over it eventually.
Caol Ila too has a secret. In the 1980s they started to experiment with an unpeated malt. Once this “Highland Caol Ila” was good to go, it became part of the production cycle. Some have told me that it helps clean out the stills.
What did they use this unpeated malt for? Why for blends. Well up until 2006, when someone tried some of it and thought “Why not make this a special release?”
So they did. And released it once a year for the next three years. And then released the ten-year-old so in 2011. Since then we’ve had quite a few unpeated releases, all at different ages. Today I’ll be adding to my reviews of these unpeated drams with Caol Ila 15 Unpeated Special Release 2016.
Let’s see how this tastes, shall we?
Price: No longer available at the LCBO
Cask Types: Refill American oak hogsheads and refill European oak butts
Colour: 7.5Y 9/8
Nose: Lemon fudge, chestnut, white raspberry, mint, apple, lime
Very acidic at first. And just a bit creamy. Like a cement mixer shot. Which, for the younger people reading this, don’t ever accept.
Some nuttiness, and some more light tartness. Water amps it up to… wait, is this white wine? It’s a very small amount if it is. If it didn’t have such strong notes (and react well to the water) I’d be worried this was a Pinot Blanc.
Taste: Barley, caramel apples, dark cocoa, yoghurt raisins
Cereal. If you grew up on barley soup and didn’t like it, congrats you had tastebuds as a child and also this may be a bit much at first. It certainly was for my wife. Which is the first time that happened with us (I’M MOCKING MYSELF AS A DEFENCE MECHANISM TO DEAL WITH FEELING LIKE I’M BEING COCKY).
Some sweet apples, some earthy/sweet cocoa, and water bring out a sweet, rich, light flavour.
Finish: Floral, Wheatabix, pear, banana, mint, lime
Long. Very long. At first, it’s all perfume and Wheatabix, just like the time I lost my virginity.
Water helps out a lot. It’s still dry, however, there’s more fruit that helps it out. And not just a ton of fruit, some spice/herbal aspect too.
Conclusion: Very much like a white wine. Sipping on this on a hot summer’s day or a white wine is about the same, save you’ll drink less volume wise. It has a dry finish, a lot of sweet/earth/apple, and there’s this great citrus to lead you into it.
Some parts you may not like. Heavy cereals are throughout. To be Frank, it’s the best unpeated Caol Ila I’ve had. I can see why they started making this and later stopped making it a secret. Try it if you can.
Scotch review #933, Islay review #249, Whisky Network reviews #1486