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Review: Caol Ila Unpeated 15 Years Old Limited Edition 2014

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Caol Ila 15YO Bottle & Box

Caol Ila is an active Islay distillery, and any Scotch nut knows that means peat and lots of it. But once each year Caol Ila makes unpeated whisky, just for kicks. This is one of those releases, a 15 year old “Highland style” spirit distilled in 1998. This expression, #3 of 11 in the 2014 Diageo Special Edition series, was aged fully in first fill ex-Bourbon casks.

This is the cheapest whisky in this year’s series, and likely the most readily available. It’s also one of the least dazzling, though it’s certainly palatable.

The nose is a curious mix of oregano and fresh bread — together these give the spirit a bit of the essence of a pizza parlor. This doesn’t really prepare you for the palate, which is blazing with heat up front and rough on the throat on the back. In between there hints of golden raisins, bright heather, and, yes, wisps of smoke, but they’re hard to parse before the sheer booziness of the alcohol knocks you down a peg.

Water helps considerably. With tempering, the Caol Ila Unpeated reveals notes of fresh sweet cereal, marshmallow, almond, and a bit of rose petals. With water, the whisky becomes almost enchanting, transformed from its hardscrabble punchiness into something approaching delicate.

120.78 proof.

B+ / $120 / malts.com  [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]

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Christopher Null

Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content company.

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2 Comments

  1. John S. Steidler March 8, 2015

    Good old scotch which needs to be drank with diet seven up or a cola and maybe even straight sometimes to cure a common cold. Looks like it is aged but that means that it is real good scotch!!!!

    Reply
  2. Austin, TX March 8, 2015

    I miss the good old days when a 15 y/o single malt was $55ish, even one from Macallan (not the fine oak, the old 15 standard).

    Reply

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