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The Caol Ila distillery is located on Islay, near Port Askaig, overlooking the strait between Islay and Jura, and was founded in 1846. Its name derives from the Gaelic for ‘Sound of Islay’. The distillery is part of Diageo, and in addition to being sold as a single malt is used heavily in blends such as Johnnie Walker and Black Bottle.
The nose is rather delicate and quite fragrant: brine and very subdued smoke mingle with hints of vanilla and marzipan. There is also a touch of diesel oil. This is definitely less raw than the 12yo but I cannot say that I am a big fan of this nose.
The palate is medium-bodied and a bit peppery at the beginning. Afterwards there is a dominant mix of brine, salt, and smoky sweetness, all in all a mouth coating experience.
The finish is long, rather dry, and pleasantly lingering.
This clearly is a soft Caol Ila compared with the more extroverted 12yo or the core range’s cask strength bottling. While I did not particularly care for the nose, the palate gives this single malt depth and meaning and defines its identity as an Islay gentleman. This will not become part of my whisky cabinet; nevertheless I enjoyed the tasting experience.