Last year’s unpeated Caol Ila has been stretched from 15 to 17 years of age. Distilled in 1997, this second review in the 2015 Diageo Special Releases showcases the heart of Islay, sans the peat.
The nose is quite salty and laden with iodine, slightly smoky — secondhand peat, perhaps. Hints of citrus waft up beneath. On the palate, the Caol Ila is a little closed off, lightly herbal and malty, but heady with alcohol. Water brings out the smoky elements more than anything else, along with substantial herbal notes — cinnamon and nutmeg, plus some mint. Nougat is big on the body, plus some curious notes of caramelized carrots and orange blossoms.
There’s no shortage of activity and excitement in this whisky, but I still feel like it’s trying to find a way to completely gel. How many more years that will take is anyone’s guess.