This tenth limited release of the unpeated Caol Ila, and the oldest so far released, is from a batch made once a year for blending in the “Highland Style.” Unusually rounded, a little less ‘full on’ than previous expressions, it still has all their fruity sharpness, hints of smoke and the sea, grainy cereals and bittersweet tannins.
Appearance: Bright gold in sunlight. Good beading.
Nose: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.
Palate: 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.
Finish: Medium to long, warming and coating, with dark chocolate, an appetising bitter-sweetness, distant light smoke and a touch of salt. With water, gently comforting.