So, let's get on with reviewing this first Caol Ila, the Rare Malts 1978:
Neat: sharp, grassy, low on smok and peaty for an islay malt. A hint of black pepper, some walnuts. All a little overpowering at this strength. A little water is needed…
With water: extremely grassy and still not very smoky. A little mint and a big hit of green apples. Wow, the apples really hit home.
Neat: sweet, smooth. Grass again but overall smothered by the strength.
With water: Loads of green apples and mint, with a bitter fruitiness of fresh grapefruit.
Finish: Long, but still a little too much on green apples for my tastes.
Overview: Good, but not fantastic. Unusually low on peat for an islay, but the lovely fruits come through with a dash of water. Just too overpowering with out. Overall, grapefruit and apples are my final thoughts, but the bitterness of the grapefruit and the fruitiness of the apples is not enough in balance. Not the best Caol Ila I have ever had, but not bad either. I would have hoped for better from a 1978 Rare Malts. School report says: Must Try Harder.
Caol Ila - 1991 / 2007 - 16 YO - 53.6% - Berry Bro and Rudd - Cask No. 286
Nose: Here we go! Now that is what a Caol Ila nose is all about. Delicate smoke carries juniper and honey and a touch of that grapefruit again. Ever so delicate. A cracking nose if not a touch too weak. You wouldn't have it down as being over 50% vol. from this nose.
Palate: Honey and lavender add to the underlying juniper. A dollop of salt at first which quickly goes leaving the smoke to carry the lingering floral tones into the finish. Ahhh... now this is a Caol Ila.
Finish: a greater degree of smoke in the finish with the stregth of this cask carrying on the very light fruit notes for longer than you'd expect.
Overall: a cracker of a Caol Ila!