[Review] Caol Ila - 12 years 43%

Caol Ila 12 is the second bottle of single malt I ever bought. As I have already mentioned, I wanted to increase the peat level slightly from my first bottle -Bowmore Small batch. Caol Ila wasn't a name I was familiar with until I started looking at other peaty bottles. And if you're not too much into whisky, I doubt you will know it either. You might however be aware of Johnnie Walker, one of the leading whisky brands in the world (blended whisky) and if you've ever tried the black label, you will have drunk some Caol Ila. In fact, 95% of the whisky Caol Ila produce goes into blended whisky and therefore only the remaining 5% end up bottled as single malt. What a shame, because for me, Caol Ila is one of the best. 
Caol Ila distillery is located on the North East coast of Islay, just North of Port Askaig. A bit more about the 12 years then:

It isn't as pale a whisky as the Kornog we tried last time but it will have had some colouring and the whisky will also have been chill-filtered as it isn't stated otherwise on the bottle. The 12 years is bottled at 43% ABV.

Nose: It's a walk by the sea first, with the smell of iodine and seaweed, followed by some smoke and bacon, and a hint of citrus.

Palate: I remember my first sip of Caol Ila 12 and thinking oily, smoky and salty. I still agree with my first impression but would now add some pear sweetness.

Finish: There is still some smoke/ash and peat in the finish but the smoke turns more into tar. A great lingering taste!

With water: The nose becomes fresher, sweeter and rounder as the smokes is less powerful. the palate is sweeter too, still with this wonderful saltiness. I find more smoke than tar this time in the finish.

Many people recommend a pairing of peaty whisky and blue cheese which I tried with the Caol Ila, It does work, and very well indeed! It feels like the strength of the blue cheese cancels a lot of smoke and tar and bring all of the sweetness out of the dram. Amazing!


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