Elements of Islay does not need an introduction. The apothecary style bottles of 50cl, released by Specialty Drinks – now Elexir Distillers – offers Islay malts with a code on the label reminiscent of the Table of Mendeleev. This CI4 is their 4th Caol Ila, by now already 7 years in the bottle. I have only tried 11 of these Elements and this is in fact my first Caol Ila. It was released in 2012 from a limited series of casks from 1999, so around 12 years old. The newest release is the CI12. I have some catching up to do. But first, this CI4.
Sturdy but very clean nose on white fruit and citrus, sea breeze and peat. Some hairspray (what? Yup!) and laurel, upholstered with some plasticine, mashed potatoes and smoked white fish. I nod and smile.
Bang! This is a kick to the teeth! Intense, very smoky and spicy. The fruit is all citrus now: from lime to lemon to grapefruit with a truckload of pepper and liquorice, a good dose of sea salt and – yes! – a wonderful touch of sweet and sour peat. Now I’m nodding big time.
In the long, spicy finish, it’s all about pepper and peat with a salty edge. This is not nodding anymore, this is headbanging.
I tasted this on a Friday night. It is going to have to rain very hard in the next two days to spoil this weekend for me.