An unpeated style Caol Ila is not that unheard of anymore. Since the introduction of the Special Releases in 2001, Diageo has had a regular addition of a differently aged unpeated Caol Ila added to their portfolio. This in 2000 distilled version has matured for 15 years in a combination of refill American Oak Hogsheads and refill European Oak butts.
61.5% abv, €90
Nose: The high abv is not really clear on the nose, and with a handful of fresh mint, close to eucalyptus, and some spicy clove notes, I quickly see myself in front of the cooker preparing a stew. A pot of creamy and buttery sticky rice and a dash of well aged balsamic vinegar, and my thought go out to a handful of sun dried tomatoes to add to the dish. I am preparing a great meal here!
Palate: Back to reality. Call me a pussy, but I needed to add a splash of water to this one or it was too hot for me to handle. Alcohol. Lots of it. Totally overwhelmed by the gentle nose, this did come as a surprise to me. Letting my palate come to its senses, the spicy, hot ginger root has toned down into a creamy fruit bowl with mangoes and red apples. Cinnamon sticks and liquorice root to the spices that are still left, and eucalyptus and a hint of liquorice root give the touch of sweetness it needs.
Finish: A long and creamy, mouth coating finish with more liquorice root and cinnamon, give it a pleasantly entertaining after-flavour, which will give you something to chew on for the best part of an hour.
Conclusion: A powerful Caol Ila on steroids, but without the heavy influence of the smoke we know so well of this meaty dram, although it is still very present in this version in the creaminess. With the 61.5% abv, it has something really powerful, that I couldn’t handle without adding a splash of water. Too much water killed the palate, but I was careful enough to split my sample and enjoy the creamy nose from the watered down version, while the other sample (still slightly diluted) was used for the palate. Long story short. I very much like this style of Caol Ila.
.many thanks to Diageo Netherlands for sending us the box of #SpecialReleases 2016