No Feis Ile this year because of Corona (funny detail: there is not one case registered on Islay), but luckily we do get a Feis Ile release. It was sold online via a dedicated website. The fans were not pleased – rightfully so, I think – as Diageo only sold to people with a UK delivery address for ‘tax reasons’. Luckily I know a few people in the UK and so I was able to secure two bottles of this Caol Ila (as well as the Lagavulin 20). The Caol Ila, limited to 3.000 bottles, was sold out in less than three hours. The malt first matured on refill bourbon hogsheads and then got a finish on Amoroso treated hogsheads (BTW: this is the type of cask that Diageo uses for the Distillers Edition of Talisker). Let’s hope – although I’m fairly confident – that its tasty.
While the DNA of Caol Ila (citrus, seaweeds, peat) is clearly present on the nose, it’s the big dose of sweetness that surprises me. Surprises me happily, I hasten to add. Lemongrass, Haribo bears, winegums and citric acid candy. Then some green herbs follow as does something floral and mild medicinal notes. Carbolic soap. Surprisingly subtle and very summery – for a Caol Ila. Wonderfully different to what I am used to from Caol Ila.
Oh, yes! The arrival is pretty spicy, a tad creamy even and very clean. Like I’m sucking on some pineapple cubes while standing in the kiln. A big floral top note makes me raise my eyebrows though. This is not going to change into carbolic soap, is it? But no, luckily it does not become soapy. Better yet: after those top notes, it quickly turns very maritime. Salt and pepper appear, are easily overcome by ginger, while the smoke – so subtle on the nose – spreads throughout your mouth, making you feel all warm and fuzzy. There is not much left of the subtle nose, but it’s all grand.
The Amoroso cask does not stand a chance in the finish. Now the malt shows it’s true colors again: salty, peaty, smoky and absolutely fantastic.
I had high expectations for this one and – bar that short moment where it threatened to turn into FWP – they are all met. A wonderful, somewhat atypical Caol Ila that really rocks my boat.