Caol Ila 18-Year-Old Whisky review and tasting notes
The 18-year-old Caol Ila is a splendid single malt Scotch whisky from Islay, a spirit that perfectly embodies the idea of balance, elegance and depth. As always when it comes to this legendary distillery, what we immediately notice is magnificence, the harmonious relationship between hard parts, smoke, herbs, salt and softness. It is not a smoke bomb, indeed peat is declined with great elegance, but at the same time, it is linked to the hot fruit. The malt is impregnated with delicate smoke, nuances that take on a thousand flavors and aromas of wood and ash.
It is difficult not to fall into enthusiasm when it comes to this small masterpiece, of course, it is an expensive and precious whisky, 18 years of barrel aging are not few, but what amazes is the attention to detail, the delicacy of each layer that is like petals of a flower. If we compare it to the Glenlivet 18, it beats it, even if it costs more, but also the Talisker 18 comes out a bit battered: we are at sidereal levels of finesse. And apart from all the scents and words that we will spend, what we want to emphasize is the maniacal care, the ability to create a fresco where every brushstroke is measured, every flavor is masterfully sculpted. Not for nothing in the special editions and in the long aging the Caol Ila distillery is considered one of the best for precision and elegance, although it has fallen into the hands of Diageo and although the bulk of its production ends up in the Johnnie Walker blend.
How Caol Ila 18 years old single malt Scotch whisky is produced
To summarize, the style is intermediate: classic of Islay, but halfway between the warrior fury of the Ardbeg and the spicy and oxidized sumptuousness of Lagavulin. Caol Ila goes further, also lets the island speak with its herbs, roots and not just malt, peat and the sea. The reason is quickly explained: it is a stylistic choice, which finds in long fermentations green and herbaceous aromas and flavors, very fresh and sharp. During distillation, the heavier tails are cut less and therefore a more intense oily-camphor-minty flavor is perceived. The distillation is double, then the distillate rests for 18 years in oak barrels, is then elongated with the water from the source until it reaches an alcohol content of 43 degrees, then it is bottled.
Organoleptic characteristics of Caol Ila 18 year old whisky
The bouquet is the quintessence of harmony: it opens with malty tones of cereal, biscuit and then seduces you with a warm fruit-based on plums and cherries in alcohol. Herbs and flowers are the protagonists and give depth, freshness and aromatic volume with peat and sweet spices as a frame. As mentioned, do not expect a shot of gunpowder and not even an oxidized or too woody whisky, the purity of the malt wants to emerge. The smoke is subtle, pervades every fiber of the distillate, but it is declined in delicate and dry aromas, it is the filigree on which this melody of sea and fire is engraved. Tones of vanilla and then the sea salt that acts as a binder to all this very clean saraband.
On the palate it is velvety but spicy, it moves between highs and lows, between ripe and other salty tones, of citrus and vibrant herbaceous and medicinal flavors. Overall the structure is good, at the alcoholic level, it does not bite, but manages to articulate easily, offering a clear and very legible cross-section. Closes with mentholated momentum, with light smoke, pepper, heather and honey tones. Even if you are not a fan of peat, you will certainly find it enjoyable, given that the beating heart of malt winks (a little, but a little) at the single malts of the Highlands and Speyside.
Cost of Caol Ila 18 years single malt Scotch whisky
And here comes the beauty, one imagines that such a fine and precious whisky costs at least 200 euros, but in reality, the price is much lower: it ranges between 110 and 120 euros and is a real bargain.