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Caol Ila 18 yo (OB, 43%)

After an unusual Caol Ila single cask from the ‘90s bottled by James MacArthur, we taste a modern whisky from the core range of the distillery: the iconic 18 yo is distributed by Diageo worldwide, so the comparison is expected to be very interesting also from the “philosophical” point of view.

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N: compared to the JMC, it’s clear that this whisky is from another time and it was made with different aims. This malt isn’t as pungent as the single cask, and it doesn’t give the idea of a lonely seaman looking at the stormy ocean. It’s rounder, woodier (a lot of licorice) and more balanced. They share the same gentle and charming peat. But the second sniff is the opposite: in the JMC there was a stormy seaside, here there’s the following calm: comfortable and warm aromas of orange marmalade, stewed fruits and big bold vanilla.

P: wonderfully drinkable. The body is less compact and – as we noticed in the nose – it’s definitely rounder and a people-pleaser, built on very active casks. There’s a double sweetness: from toffee to vanilla, from marzipan to brown sugar. Orange and tangerine, too. The smokiness is more pronounced and pungent compared to the nose. And even the marine/salty side is noticeable.

F: good match between a very pronounced sweetness and a smoky and smoggy peat, with notes of burnt plastic.

We drank this Caol Ila several times and in different occasions (yes, we do not drink whisky merely in our studio, surrounded by samples): we were never disappointed. This middle age expression of Caol Ila core range is extremely enjoyable, without asking too much. Anyway, it’s not the most complex Islay malt, one of those whiskies you can get lost in during a meditative night. To be clear, drink this nectar without too many pretentions: 86/100. We point out that – even with different tasting notes – also the Bevitore Raffinato deplores the lack ot “a flicker of extra maturity”. And similar remarks are available also on another Italian blog, whiskysucks.

Recommended soundtrack: Francesco BacciniTi amo e non lo sai.

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