Caol Ila 10, “Unpeated”, 2009 Release

Caol IlaUnlike the Caol Ila 12 “Unpeated” that I reviewed yesterday, this 10 yo, released in 2009, is reputedly truly unpeated. Let’s see if that’s true (though to be frank I quite liked the not-very-unpeated “unpeated” Caol Ila). Have to go carefully, however, as this is a little bit hot.

Caol Ila 10, “Unpeated”, 2009 Release (65.8%; first fill bourbon cask; from a sample received in a trade)

Nose: Yes, it’s true, there’s no hint of peat here. Of course, at 65.8% there’s almost no hint of anything here except a warm vanilla cream. With time and air this begins to get as coastal as the regular Caol Ila: brine, sweet/rotting kelp, wet stones, ozone. Still pretty tight though. With a few drops of water the vanilla cream expands and now there’s lemon on the nose too, turning to citronella.

Palate: Sweet, waxy and lemony; very lemony. There’s those wet stones again as well; salt too. Something almondy about it too. Remarkably drinkable at full strength, though you can feel it in your solar plexus. Water intensifies the lemon and integrates it very nicely with those wet stones and the almond/vanilla/cream thing. Makes me wish I had some oysters alongside.

Finish: Long. Receding lemon and a fair bit of salt, and maybe a touch of white pepper too.

Comments: Very nice. A very clean profile, if a little simple. You could sell this as a northern Highland malt, as a Clynelish, say, and no one would bat an eyelid. It’s nothing special but there are times when you want something exactly like this–there’s nothing cloying in the slightest about it. I wish I had some more.

Thanks to Patrick for the sample!

Rating: 85 points.

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