More festive malty goodness: Caol Ila

Caol Ila selection box reviewI’ve been very well served so far this festive season with the excellent Jura Prophecy – it serves me now as I write this.

I did receive another rather special whisky, though ( from someone rather special, God bless ‘em). This time, it’s an Islay malt, the rather milder Caol Ila in a selection box: the standard 12 year old, the richer 18 year and the potentially explosive cask strength.

I’ve had the 12 year on a couple of occasions, the last time at the Ardview Inn in Port Ellen after I’d scorched my taste buds with the smoky/peaty mothers of the south for most of the evening. It came across as rather benign, reaffirming my view that’s it’s no good tasting when you’re drinking.

This selection was quite a treat, therefore. A chance to acquaint myself with something new.

The 12 offers peat on the nose along with salty tones befitting the distillery’s location in a small bay near Port Askaig. The salt persists on the taste with this lightly coloured whisky, along with plenty of fruit.

The 18 is very special and more to my pallete. There’s more depth and richness to the flavour and nose, with the effects of the barrel more notable. Smoke occurs more in the finish, perhaps.

The cask strength is a real animal and was tempered with water after an initial nip.I left the light colloured whisky to mingle with the water for a while and the nose was still sweet and very alcoholic (!).

In the mouth, though, it was a real surprise. An incredible explosion of sweetness quite unlike anything I’ve tasted before. There’s a definite citrus blast here, too, but balanced with smoke and more ‘savoury’ tones.

Dangerously moreish.

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