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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.