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Let’s stay on Islay for a while and try three Caol Ila head-to-head. We’ll start with a young one: a 10 Year Old, bourbon barrel #309889, from the Austrian independent bottler Single Cask Collection.
After the initial alcohol fumes have dissipated, my olfactory organ takes in a big dose of peat smoke and citrus (lemon, peel included). Quite a bit of ashes and wet rocks. The kind of rocks that are hit by relatively heavy waves in the surf on Islay. Quite sharp, too. A youthful powerhouse. Adding a bit of water reveals white fruit and even some vanilla.
Powerful and young on the palate too. Sweet, drying peat, brine and grass. Very clean and drinkable without water, despite the high ABV. It’s a bit creamy diluted, but much sweeter. White fruit, again (primarily pear), but still full of ashes and brine. Classic Caol Ila.
The finish lingers on peat and brine.
I have not yet had any ‘bad’ Caol Ila. This one is very similar to the A.D. Rattray bottling I tried earlier. I found that one a bit better, even though it was only bottled at 46% ABV. This one will set you back about 50 EUR.