Sunday 11th March, 2007.
I arrived at the Munich Whisky Fair just in time to book on a vertical tasting (does that mean we have to stand throughout?
As it turned out, thankfully not!
) of drams from one of my favourite distilleries; Caol Ila.
Five drams, one distillery:
1. 8y Unpeated, 59.8%
2. 12y 43%
3. 18y 43%
4. DE, Moscatel finish, 43%
5. 25y 58.4%
It looks like today could be a good day!1. 8y Unpeated
Clean and fresh, almost swimming pool with bio apples and a faint hint of leather.Palate:
Initially fierce with lots of alcohol burn. Sharp apple and malt flavour.With water:
Spicy malt.More water:
Now a much more floral nose. Fresh air, malt and still spicy. Also dried apples.Yet more water:
No longer fiery (spicy), now very smooth, but quite bland.Overall Impression:
I always say that I like my CIs to be as near to 60% as possible, but this one really disappointed. There was always something missing (PEAT!!!) and it never really caught the imagination.2. 12y, 43%
A peat smoking chimney in WinterPalate:
Smoky, peaty almonds. Slightly oily.Overall Impression:
As I say, CIs should be CS, around 60% ABV. This had all the right direction, but it was just too weak and watery.3. 18y 43%
Not so smoky and peaty, this was fresh with grass and straw, plus a little wood.
Edit: After the 3rd & 4th nosing, a little more smoke started to appear.Palate:
Sea air, oak, pears, a little grass, hay, straw and malt.Overall Impression:
A good whisky, but again it would have benefitted from being a little stronger. This one actually reminded me of a Scottish jetty in Autumn.4. DE 43%, Moscatel, 1993-2006
Warm fire with wood and a little merlot. Then some leather and oak started to become apparent.Palate.
Initial peaty wine is followed by spicy liquorice and then fades to grainy hay.Overall Impression:
A good wood finish with a very interesting character.5. 25y, 58.4%
Malt, smoke and new paint. Eventually, after further nosing, the floral aroma of an alpine meadow begins to come through. This eventually turns to oak.Palate:
Smoke and malt with a nutty cereal and pungent dark fruits.With 3 drops of water per 1cl:
Magic! A smooth, gentle Caol Ila.Overall Impression of the tasting:
This was a good tasting / masterclass for a few different reasons; it was an excellent chance to compare five quite different Caol Ilas and also to include a couple fo the rarer / more expensive ones. This confirmed my own impresison that CIs should be CS, as they are often just a little character-less or weak at under 50%.
However, what made this a really good event was that it was quite early in the afternoon, not long after opening time and there were only 14 people present. The speaker also didn't want to play waiter, so he just passed the bottles around saying "Help yourselves, I don't need to take any back at the end"