Caol Ila 18yo – Diageo Special Releases 2017

Caol Ila 18 Feature

Well, thanks very much Diageo. Trying to torpedo my nicely constructed fortnight of reviews of your 2017 Special Releases by announcing you’re going to reopen Brora and Port Ellen?! Jerks. In all seriousness, that’s the biggest news to come out of the industry for a long long time, and it certainly caused the digital Twit-book-agram-osphere to go into complete and utter meltdown yesterday morning. However, I fear the end may be nigh for WhiskyFun if Brora is requiring a new distillery manager… anyway, the show must go on and from Lagavulin yesterday, we move round the Islay coastline to Caol Ila to sample another stalwart of the Special Releases. Over the years, Diageo have released Caol Ila as an ‘unpeated style’ for the Special Releases, quite different from the sweet, smoky style of the other official bottlings. The age of the Caol Ila Special Release has increased year on year and we’re now up to 18 years old for this whisky, which has been matured entirely in American oak hogsheads. It’s always interesting to taste this, as it allows the underlying spirit character to come through, without it being wrapped up in a big smoky duvet.

Caol Ila 18yo
Diageo Special Releases 2017
59.8% ABV
£98.95 here

Nose: Vanilla fudge, salted caramel, bourbon biscuits, lime, a little brine, raw cake mix and some faint perfumed notes.

Palate: Quite juicy to begin, with apricots and figs. Then there’s rockpools, lime, Terry’s chocolate orange, caramel and chewy oak spices. Tiny bit of smoke? Surely not!

Finish: Sea-sprayed charred logs.

Overall: Is it me, or was then just a whisper of smoke in there? Having said that, this is certainly a very, very, very lightly peated Caol Ila and shows a very different side to the spirit. Quite enjoyable, if a little on the simple side – I had to go searching for some aromas and flavours rather than them jumping out the glass at me. Tomorrow, we go everywhere and nowhere; up next is Collectivum XXVIII, a blended malt containing whisky from 28 of Diageo’s active malt distilleries. Till then…



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