...and expectations met! This is a straight-forward peaty /sweet combo that is simple but delicious. No unnecessary build-in effects or cheap thrills confuse my taste buds - maybe you know the old saying: Perfection is when there is nothing left that could be dropped without compromising the quality! In that sense this dram is close to perfection, I like it!
[December, 2019] I had this dram during a private vertical Caol Ila tasting session and fully confirm my old review and solid 88 points score.
The colour is old gold and the nose offers a very peaty profile for a Caol Ila that is fresh and with beautiful maritime and medicinal notes included. The usual Caol Ila sweetness is somewhat buried under these heavy aromas but if it breathes for some minutes the honeys, sugars and some shy fruits dare to enter the spotlight together with fine spices, liquorice and tobacco leaves. Now it gets more balanced and rounder what I like better than the first "peaty punch". A fair share of water speeds up this process (if you are in a hurry)...
The taste delivers the sweetness that Caol Ila is famous for and that perfectly counters the maritime-peaty attack. Wow, this is a close-to-perfection mix of these flavours - equally balanced they still let space for others to join in like spices, liquorice or ashy notes. It is not truly layered but who needs different layers if the flavours fit that nice altogether in just one...
The initial mouthfeel is warming and instantly coating (what is a good indicator for a high quality spirit). There are no distracting bitter or astringent moments (obviously no aggressive virgin oak casks in this batch, hooray!). The finish is very long (another indicator of high class spirits) and adds more bitter-herbal wooden notes that are a nice contrast to the rather sweet taste. There is a minor drying finale (cold ashes) but this is absolutely okay. Some water does not change a lot but a fair share releases more aromas and flavours and turns the dram smoother (more quaffable). I like to explore it neat and to drink it reduced to about 46% abv.