Diageo’s 2014 Special Releases included two Caol Ila, a huge 30-year-old and this 15-year-old expression, an unpeated malt distilled in 1998. Matured in first-filling bourbon barrels, there are 10,668 bottles of this whisky. Thanks to the monstrous abv, we expect something really powerful, well aware that the distillery’s purists are already shaking their heads and mumbling in half voices: “Oh Lord, a Caol Ila without peat is a cardinal sin”. But let’s not get formal and give it a chance…
N: nice intriguing nose. Very buttery (just fresh butter) and with hints of sweet fruit, mostly yellow fruit (apricot) and citrus (lemons, yes, but also citron/lime). Something candied, here and there, and notes of young malt. After a little oxygenation, the alcohol fades and a slightly smoky peaty note emerges. Pear. You wouldn’t say Caol Ila, of course, although after a while those hints of sweet fruit and vanilla and a little bit of lemon… but in a blind tasting you would never recognize it. Not bad, especially the fruity side is very pleasant. And then it evolves again, becoming almost tropical!
P: a dirty and interesting palate. Mineral and slightly smoky suggestions. But we’re astonished by a very gentle mix of acre notes and a very marked sweetness, of ripe fruit, almost tropical (sweet pears and mango?). A drop of water makes it even more interesting, softening the sweetness and increasing the coastal side (salty and mineral). Butter. Good, easy but good.
F: vanilla and butter. Fruity notes and certainly less smoky compared to the palate.
This Unpeated is definitely a little Caolilesque, but we certainly won’t join the chorus of disappointment. The soul of the distillery is indeed distorted, but it transmigrates into a brand new body that has a certain charm. It may be the abv, but the intensity of the mineral and buttery suggestions is really overflowing, with a nice fruity side too. Moreover, even if this doesn’t affect our rating, it is one of the few Special Releases with a decent quality/price ratio, it is still around 80 euros. That’s good: 86/100.
Recommended soundtrack: Heart – Barracuda.