Among yearly Diageo Special Releases, an Unpeated Caol Ila is rather regular. Someone considers it an abomination, an unnatural experiment… We’re aware that nature is always more open and surprising than we think, we have no preclusions concerning this “Highland style” Caol Ila. As you all know, Caol Ila was the heart of Johnnie Walker Black Label blended, but recently Diageo realized that it can be also a majestic single malt. Today we taste the 18 yo, released in Autumn 2017, at cask strength.
N: the first impact is buttery and creamy. Pannacotta, eggnog and Panettone. Maybe… a sprinkle of ash on that Panettone? There’s a light, faint layer of peat, incredibly smooth and a delicately smoky, with a pleasant mineral note. In the background, it’s a white chocolate triumph. With some fruity sensations, too: apple and banana. Fresh vanilla bean and a multifaced spiciness, from the oak, impossible to define. With water, the pastry and vanilla sweetness explodes. And the whisky becomes a cake: it’s a miracle!
P: the alcohol is rather aggressive and the first sip is monolithic: shortbreads and a huge amount of vanilla. Custard with lemon peel. It’s a bit extreme, but it’s like an old friend: it always comes back to the roots (cereal with a gentle smoke). Someone says tangerine. With water – recommended indeed – it becomes fruiter. A comfortable, gorgeous pineapple custard.
F: salty pastry, a faint smoky note again. White pepper, vanilla. Very long, intense and persistent.
We must say that the cask influence is not secondary at all. All the vanilla, custard and pastry notes are proof of that. So what? We think it’s a very nice whisky, incredibly pleasant and enjoyable. In a blind tasting, you could easily say it’s a Highland whisky, slightly peaty… We usually appreciate when the spirit is naked, but we just can’t help liking it: 87/100. On whiskyshop.it is cheaper than the 18 yo OB, bottled at 43% and not limited. But it’s “peated”, of course…
rRecommended soundtrack: Eve feat. Gwen Stefani – Let me blow your mind.