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The sample for this review was graciously provided by @Nozinan
Caol Ila Cask Strength 10 Year Old 60.5% ABV Distilled 2004/Bottled 2015 Opened May 21/2017, sample bottled Nov 15/2017, bottle 2/3 full when sample was bottled, gassed after each use.
I think this may be my first ever Independent bottling. I really liked the Caol Ila 17 Year Old Unpeated, so let's see what this belter delivers.
Nose(undiluted): The Peat hit is immediate, but not overpowering. It isn’t a “deep, damp” peat, but rather a drier peat with a smoke that’s more like the burning of dry kindling. Almost immediately after the peat hit, the smoke dissipates and there’s a big aroma of salted caramel and green apples.
Palate (undiluted): medium bodied, toffee sweetness at first, black pepper, more brine, a minerality reminiscent of pencil “lead” or wet slate, kind of like a Talisker.
Finish: long, starting with the same dry peat smoke from the nose moving to some oak notes and ending on a wonderful green apple note which lingers.
With water the peat smoke and fire is tamed a bit on the nose, as the toffee notes take over. But these notes also dissipate fairly quickly and this Caol Ila starts to remind me more of a Talisker. The peat and smoke return with a minerality like sea-sprayed rocks. I know it sounds pretentious, but it's true. On the palate, it's all sweetness with water added. Lots of toffee and oak notes. The finish changes significantly with water. The smoke seems to get thicker, as though someone threw wet leaves or branches onto a bonfire. Black pepper shows up and that lovely green apple note takes a few moments longer to appear. I prefer the nose and palate neat, but the finish is more interesting with water. This is an enigmatic, shape-shifting whisky.The longer this sits in the glass, the more it tries to become Talisker. I wish Diageo would release a Caol Ila like this on a regular basis !