Review: Caol Ila 14 Years Old “Unpeated Style” Limited Edition 2012

Caol Ila 14 Year OldIn January we covered five of this year’s seven Diageo’s Classic Malts Selection. Why five? At the time, two weren’t yet upon our shores, so we’ve been waiting… and waiting… and waiting.

Finally they’re here, and first up we look at this unique Caol Ila, an unpeated malt from an Islay distillery that’s synonymous with peat. Lots of firsts here: This is the first sherried Caol Ila in this series of malts, aged not in ex-Bourbon barrels but rather European oak casks and the only unpeated Caol Ila released at 14 years old.

Crafted in a “Highland style,” you’d be forgiven for assuming this was Highland Park instead of Caol Ila. The nose features honey, heather, and a dash of smokiness. Hardly a super-sherried dram, it really just hints at orange oil. At nearly 120 proof, it’s frankly too racy to enjoy on its own, but water is a big help in bringing out this whisky’s joys. Don’t be shy: What arises from the depths is more of those field flavors, beehives, and hints of smokestacks. Ultimately it’s a rich whisky but not overwhelming in its complexity, a surprising look at the versatility of Islay.

118.6 proof.

B+ / $103 / malts.com

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