This is the oldest official bottling of Caol Ila and was released by Diageo in 2014 in their yearly Special Release. With a price tag of around 600 EUR, it is not exactly a cheap bottle, but thanks to my whiskybuddy Jan I was able to get hold of a very generous sample. It is a distillate from 1983 that matured in a combination of refill American and refill European oak. It clings to the glass beautifully and immediately fills the room with a lovely aroma.
Thanks to the nose I am immedeately thrown back to Port Askaig, where I was looking for the ideal spot to take a nice picture of this distillery. The scent of the bay with its salty breeze, the threat of rain in the air, soft peat, creamy vanilla and some mildly burnt sugars. All of this upholsterd with dark fruit and a rich, sweet smokiness. Leave it to breathe for a few moments and it becomes nicely waxy. A bonfire on the beach, aromatic oils, some lemon juice in the background, as well as some apricots and pineapple. But also rusted saws and wood shavings. The shed of a furniture maker. Ginger and liquorice. Delicate and enchanting!
As delicate as the nose is, so sturdy is the taste. Powerful, smoky, sweet and very spicy on citrus fruit (both lemon, lime and oranges), honey and marzipan, followed by sea weeds, sweet butter, dried garden herbs, crème brûlée with a salty edge that leaves no doubt about the fact that we are indeed on Islay. Midpalate the fruit turns somewhat tropical (banana, mango, pineapple), while creamy oak gives it a lovely bitterness. The complexity of this malt knows no boundaries.
The finish is wonderfully long, maritime and offers a new surge of lime juice and salt smoke, but the peat has the final say.
I get a bit homesick, tasting this. I wanna go bck to Islay. Wouldn’t you? This Caol Ila is simply perfect. Thanks for the huge sample, Jan!