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Caol Ila Distiller’s Edition (1996/2008, Moscatel finish, 43%)

This is a particular dram, the only OB expression in our recent little Caol Ila saga. Distilled in 1996, this whisky was finished in casks that previously held Moscatel, a Portuguese dessert wine from the Setubal area. The wine’s influence is evident at first sight: the colour is a wonderful orange-y gold.

N: we’re initially doubtful: a light smokiness and a bold peatiness are the only detecteable notes at first. Setubal is a long way to, we’re on Islay now. With time, a pleasant aroma of brown sugar, vanilla and candied citrus fruits emerges. A bit of tamarind winks discreetly at us. We appreciate it.

P: the extra-maturation in ex Moscatel casks smoothes the smoke notes, so the peatiness and the general smokiness are really gentle on the palate. The mouth is wrapped by a mixed fruits sensation (even red berries, especially strawberry) and by a chocolate taste. The winey note is remarkable but discrete: Muscat grape, of course.

F: unfortunately the finish is not epic. Intensity and length are limited and without any surprise. Fruity notes scarcely come back, everything is about peat and burnt wood. It’s a pity.

We don’t want to blame the short and rather useless finish of this dram, which decreases the general appeal of the whisky. Nevertheless, the experiment seems successful: it doesn’t distort the distillery’s profile but it smoothes some maritime and islander edges. The result is an elegant malt, showing a sweetness not annoying at all: 84/100. A good product, without any particular peak or weakness.

Recommended soundtrack: The Presets If I know you.

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