Monday, October 05, 2009
Scotch Whisky Review: Caol Ila 12
I've asked my wife Grace to join in with me in reviewing another whisky from Islay. So, tonight we're enjoying Caol Ila (pronounced, I'm told, "Cull Eela.")
Caol Ila is a pale amber dram, considerably lighter in color than the Lagavulin 16 I reviewed yesterday. On the nose, Grace reports a citrus tang (as in Tang, the fruit drink; I'm calling it Mandarin orange, which Grace says is "grilled.") She commented on the legs and the syrupy texture (but this Scotch is not oily), and says it reminds her of a nice white wine.
There's a light and pleasant smokiness, but it's not overpowering. Grace reports charcoal and an anise (licorice-like) flavor. There are modest notes of caramel and vanilla. There isn't much iodine or sea salt to speak of. The burn is mild, and the oaky, peaty, smoky finish is long and dry, tempered by some bittersweet spices, like nutmeg (Grace says cinnamon, I say bittersweet chocolate -- Grace suggests that it reminds her of Maya Gold chocolate, produced by Green & Black's, which is flavored with nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, and orange -- and I concur! There's quite a strong resemblance.)
It's altogether very nicely integrated and pleasant. Grace gives it an 8. I'll agree with that -- it's flavors are milder and not as big and robust and showy as the Lagavulin, and that makes it more approachable and more suitable for regular sipping. It's not my go-to dram, the first one I think about when I contemplate having a glass of whisky, but it will definitely be on my short list.