When I tasted the Caol Ila 12 and the Cask Strength I immediately fell in love with this lesser known giant and I was dying to get a hold of the 18. I couldnt get it at the Dutch webshops anymore or for a ridiculous price. Luckily I stumbled upon it in the liquorshop nearby for only €51,95 :) What a break! I took it, raced home and poured one right away. I dont think it needs any water, but you can add 1 ore 2 drops (no more I think) to notice slight differences.
Nose: sweet vanilla, ripe pear, salty seagrass, citrus, fresh baked cake, fresh woodsap, Frangelico, sunflowers, bit of smoke and peat in the background and marzipan. Quite soft, delicate and complex and it evolves nicely with some oil, dry hay, ash and a little iodine. Give it some time
Arrival: spices, nuts, pipesmoke, peat and wood. It comes in without knocking, quite powerful and tingles the mouth Development: malt, lots of peaty malt, more than in the nose; then some soft sour citrustones and goes back to sweet caramel/vanilla/bourbontones. All really well balanced.
Finish: dry wood, earth, barley, soft bbq smoke ash and some iodine comes back.
I think you can say I really love this stuff. I did'nt have much older Islay whiskies before, but so far this is exactly my kind of malt: complex, delicate, smooth ánd it packs a punch. I advise to first taste some Laphroaig 10, Lagavulin 16, Ardbeg 10, Caol Ila 12, Bunnahabhain 12 and then upgrade to this one. If u can find it... I read that they are planning to release more of the 18, hopefully also on Cask Strength!