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Caol Ila. The peated was good, but the unpeated is superb!

Caol Ila. I never ordered this dram at a bar because I couldn’t pronounce it. I was missing out! Now it is one of my favorite drams. Although, I must say that if you like Caol Ila, the distillery might be a little bit of a letdown. It is definitely one of Diageo’s workhorses and it is very obviously fully automated. You will see only one or two employees in a very large facility. They are making about 5.5 million liters of new make spirit per year. They are the largest on the island. I understand that they are a huge part of many blends including Johnnie Walker, but man are their single malts worthy of respect.

Caol Ila means “sound of Islay” in Gaelic. It is right on the sea coast like all of the other distilleries of the island because all materials and product used to come and go by sea. They installed a new stainless steel mash tun about five years ago and have a total of 10 washbacks. The mash tun is a brand new lauter tun and can run a three hour mash. Their fermentation period only lasts about 55 hours. All of their malted barley comes from Port Ellen. The Caol Ila single malts barley is peated at about 38PPM, but you will probably find it is a much lighter than Lagavulin 16 YR old that has the same PPM. They are claiming this is due to the size and shape of the stills as well as the condensers being inside the building. They want to make sure heavy congeners don’t make it through to the final cut spirit. There are three pairs of wash and spirit stills and the wash still really is huge. The still room has large windows and overlooks the sea. It is quite breathtaking. We were brought up to the automation room that overlooks the stills. It is quite impressive and this is the brain center for the whole operation from start to finish.

** Malt comes in @ 38PPM and their new make spirit comes out @ 15PPM

Caol Ila only has about 15-20% of their production going to single malts. They do have a non-age statement in their range and the rest are quite old ranging from 12-25 years. I must say that if you haven’t tried their unpeated 17 year old, you must. This is one of those drams that you drink and you just know, this is going to be in your top favorites. It’s not cheap and obviously not characteristic of Coal Ila and Islay in general, but it is so viscous and delicious! Here is what I tried on site…

18 Year Old Caol Ila

Holly’s Tasting Note..

Nose: Red apple, fruit medley cherry fruit cup and not too much peat.

Palate: Very light sweet honey peat, white peach, oak spice finish and vanilla cream. More peat on the palate than nose!

If you add water the smoke comes out on the nose.

Feis Isle 2016 Festival Edition Cask Strength @ 56.2%ABV

Holly’s Tasting Note..

Nose: Creamy seaweed peat, pears, lemons and sugar cookies.

Palate: Sharp oily peat, lemon/lime.

Too sharp for me.

17 Year Old Unpeated Caol Ila

Holly’s Tasting Note..

Nose: Sweet green apple blow pop, honeysuckle and syrup.

Palate: Honey, ripe pear and green apple. Super viscous!

25 Year Old Caol Ila

Holly’s Tasting Note..

Nose: Pine nuts, raspberry’s, lavender, raisins and kind of herbaceous.

Palate: Oats and raisins, dried berries, dry nuts and granola.

Not as rich as I expected. I didn’t get much peat.

Next up is Ardbeg..

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