Another year and another delicious unpeated Caol Ila at the affordable end of Diageo’s Special Releases In fact, this is now the tenth release in the series. At 17 years old, it’s the oldest yet too, having been distilled in 1997.
Reserved; at first fruity, with zesty orange or mandarin, then slowly becoming sweeter and denser, with malt and hard toffee, and fresh, creamy vanilla. There’s a balancing, lightly smoky and fresh-clean aroma too, backed by drier notes of newsprint and grainy cereal. Later, hints of moss, or crusty sourdough bread. A dash of water unusually produces a prickly nose-feel and makes the aromas more accessible, as fruitcake, wood smoke and caramel, salt on a sea breeze, and sweet honey and lemon.
Intense, starting with sweet mixed fruit, chocolate and ginger, then distinctly salty, growing warm and slightly bitter. Waxy and coating, later adding a strong, clean, herbal dryness. With water the taste is softer yet somehow more pronounced: still salty, but with a mineral edge, and now peppery across the tongue. Quietly clean and leathery with pleasantly smooth tannins.
Strength: 55.9% ABV