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Caol Ila 17 Year Old Unpeated / Special Releases 2015

Caramel Apples by the Sea

6 890

@OdysseusUnboundReview by @OdysseusUnbound

4th May 2018


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

This sample was graciously provided by @Nozinan and was opened Sept 20/2016, gassed after each use, decanted Apr 25/2017, gassed, sample poured Nov 5/2017, with the decanted bottle being 2/3 full.

Up until now, Ive only ever had the 12 Year Old “standard” Caol Ila. I like it well enough, but it’s not Laphroaig or Ardbeg. Let’s see what an older, unpeated expression does for my senses.

  • Nose (undiluted): this may be unpeated, but there is still an unmistakable vegetal note present, it isn’t smoky, but there’s a mossy note, damp leaves perhaps. Also surprisingly fruity. Ripe pears. Charred lemons. Kraft Caramels (the little, individually-wrapped ones). A bit of iodine. A touch of black pepper. Briny as it opens up. Complex and expressive.
  • Palate (undiluted): opens on a mineral note, almost chalky at first, wet slate maybe. It’s quickly replaced by a pleasant fruitiness; ripe pears and toffee with a black pepper kick near the end, though not nearly as hot as I expect, given the 55.9% ABV. With time, there’s a waxy feel to the whisky that I absolutely adore, especially when it mingles with the green apple notes.
  • Finish: fairly long, more toffee and caramel, some brine returning and a very prominent green apple note (sweet, not sour) developing at the very end of the finish. That last note took me by surprise but it’s unmistakable.

With water, the maritime brine comes forward on the nose immediately. But it’s still not smoky. Which makes sense; it IS unpeated, after all. There’s also more black pepper and oak spice on the nose with water added. The taste is surprisingly sweeter, but less fruity with water. Green apples and lots of caramel. Also a strong cereal note (oatmeal?). The finish doesn’t change much with water. That green apple hangs around forever. And it’s very enjoyable. I would never have guessed this was over 46% ABV. Very approachable and “friendly”, but not “too simple”. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy a bottle of this whisky.

Nota bene: this is the first single malt scotch I’ve had in awhile. I’ve been drinking mostly bourbon and Canadian whisky lately. I’m unsure if or how this affected my evaluation.

Related Caol Ila reviews


MadSingleMalt commented

@OdysseusUnbound, is this still the only unpeated Caol Ila you've had?

I'm just digging on your review here, and I wonder if you have any opinion on how the various "Unpeateds" compare to each other. I'm considering a purchase of one at a store that has a few of them. Cheers!

3 years ago 1Who liked this?

paddockjudge commented

This belongs in everyone's cupboard. A masterpiece. I often wonder what we are missing, the opportunity forgone, when we sip a peated whisky. This whisky answers that query.

3 years ago 1Who liked this?

Nozinan commented


Sadly these expressions often come with a hefty price tag.

The 17 YO was $170 at the KGBO.


The 15 from the same distillery run, bottled earlier, I found at a store in Calgary The 18 YO made a split second appearance at the LCBO this spring at a price that was obviously an error.

At some point @OdysseusUnbound will have a chance to sample them but they have not yet been opened. I foresee a special tasting for the three followed by some CS peated versions that are outstanding as well.

3 years ago 2Who liked this?

OdysseusUnbound commented

@MadSingleMalt This was my first and only unpeated Caol Ila. Hopefully not my last. I feel I may have been too stingy in my scoring. But that could be memory messing with me.

3 years ago 1Who liked this?

RianC commented

@OdysseusUnbound - Sounds lovely! Thanks for the review.

Perhaps unpeated Caol Ila is worth a look then . . .

3 years ago 1Who liked this?

OdysseusUnbound commented

@MadSingleMalt It might be my memory playing tricks on me, but I feel like the finish alone could bump it up another point or two. I feel like the brine and the green apple really hang on.

3 years ago 0

MadSingleMalt commented

You had me at brine.

I did actually taste one of these myself once at a friend's house, but I forget which release it was. In any case, it struck as a very "Campbeltown style" whisky, which I totally love. Salty!

The prices on these are inscrutable & erratic as all get-out. I'm sure I've seen some of them at $150+ (yes, US prices—sorry). The cheapest one I've ever seen is the 18 for $90 at a local shop, just yesterday. I think I'll make that my treat to myself if I get my expected annual raise here in a couple weeks.

3 years ago 1Who liked this?

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