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A big and long overdue thank you is the best way to start this review. In the too few years that I have been enjoying Single Malts, I have mainly utilised two sources for advice on my purchases. The first is Michael Jackson - not he of the dodgy nose and baby over the balcony rail but the man who is generally recognised as one of the finest writers on Scotch around. The second source is the lovely ladies and gentlemen who man World of Whiskies at Heathrow Airport. These fans of my favourite spirit are friendly, immensely knowledgeable and always have time to share their obvious love of their favourite tipple. They are generally able to make good recommendations, offer tastings of their wares and even, having completed their sale, are often good enough to offer "one for the road" - usually something pretty good! So give these wonderful people your custom! Why this praise? This time round it comes as a result of one of their number being good enough to recommend a bottle of 17 year old Caol Ila - literally "The Sound of Islay" in the sense of a body of water. The particular bottle, attractively presented in a gold and blueish white tube (which is difficult to open - my only complaint) has an age statement and the number of the barrel from which it was drawn - something which I think adds to the feeling of exclusivity that should accompany the purchase of a decent Scotch. *************************** A brief historical interlude *************************** The distillery itself was originally built in 1846 by a gentleman named Hector Henderson. When he went out of business in 1863 it was purchased by Bulloch Lade & Co. After expanding, management was taken over by the Distillers Co. Ltd. in 1927 and it has remained under these hands (now known as United Distillers) until today. In 1972 the distillery was closed down and rebuilt - it reopened in 1974 as the largest on the Island and the very good news is tha
t this means a decent capacity - there should be no shortage of good quality Scotch! *************************** The Whisky *************************** In general, Islay whiskies tend to be very much acquired tastes, extremely peaty and frequently referred to as being "Iodiney" or "medicinal" - you can best appreciate this description by sampling a Laphroaig (which I urge you to do!) I had been advised that this was a lighter, more restrained malt and thus felt happy to open it with my fellow intrepid taster who confesses to not being very fond of Islays. It is particularly pale in colour but as ever, this certainly doesn't mean that it lacks a punch in terms of its taste. Although it clearly has the peaty qualities typical of an Islay, it is far less overpowering and hence more easily accessible than a Lagavulin, Ardberg or Laphroaig. To taste, as ever, one should start off by pouring a decent measure - you decide how much! Stick your nose into the glass and have a good sniff - you may feel silly doing this but its part of the experience. You should be able to pick up quite a lot of vanilla, some smokiness and traces of flowers. Now take a good sip and run it around your mouth - its a well rounded, quite sweet flavour, which then dries. You can really pick up the peat in it as you swallow it down! If, having tasted it you can pick up flavours that I haven't mentioned then that's also normal - if you read two writers' reports of the same Scotch you may be forgiven for sometimes thinking that they are talking about something else entirely - so don't worry if your description is different - just as long as you find something that you like. The 17 year old sells for around 35 pounds a bottle which may be a little expensive for many people's tastes - I only spend that much if work has paid for my plane ticket as was the case this time. Caol Ila does have a
vey extensive range however from about 12 years upwards with prices reflecting age offering something to suit every pocket. I would suggest that this is an Islay malt for people who don't like Islay malts in that it reflects the common characteristics without overpowering the more refined palate in the way that certain bigger Islays do. Enjoy!!
Single malt Scotch from islay. Full-bodied, rich, round and nutty, medium pungency, soft peatiness and quite dry