...which is a nice encounter but at the same time it displays how the standard Caol Ila profile benefits from the peaty aromas added. This is a flawless and nice malt but somehow this profile is very exchangeable (which the peated Caol Ila is not) and not very interesting. Worth a try but certainly not at these rather high price points - go for a sample instead of a bottle unless you are very sure you will like the "naked" Caol Ila.
The colour is pale gold and the nose offers an impressive fruity-sugary-vanilla profile with significant wooden notes. It is fresh and smells a little younger than 15 years actually but not in a bad way. The fruits retreat somewhat upon oxidation and more herbal and (Manuka) honey aromas pop up so hurry with your first sniff. This is a flawless and nice nose but it is completely unspectacular - so the peat does a great job in enriching this profile in the standard Caol Ila recipe.
The taste is chewy and sweet with again significant wooden notes which are a borderline case to my taste buds (wood-heads might rather enjoy these strong tannins). The sweet barley sugars sooth the bitter-herbal woods as do the honey and fruity flavours, the latter are stronger than with the nose. Some water turns the nose more shy and punchy while the taste gets more peppery-chili hot before the sugars balance this out again. A further reduction releases more bitter wooden aromas in the nose but smooths the taste again while another splash flattens both. To be honest, I clearly prefer the neat dram despite its high proof of 59.1% abv.
Despite the high proof this dram arrives nicely on the palate with a warming and coating texture covering the mouth instantly. No distracting impressions, even the peppery moments are very appropriate. The finish is long and adds more bitter-wooden as well as some hot moments which are okay but the dram would be better without them. Towards the end the tannins of the wood provide an impression of cold ashes just as if this dram was peated (but it is not, obviously).