For all you Caol Ila fans out there, Diageo recently announced that there was to be a new 25 year old expression as part of the core range, which already includes some little gems such as the 12yo, 18yo, Distillers Edition and annual unpeated batches (last year's 10 yo was an improvement on the 8yo, an already well-established favourite of ours)
With so many independent bottlings of Caol Ila out there (hey- everyone seems to do a Caol Ila don't they?) where would this older 'official' sibling sit? It would have been easy to assume that you're talking about the super, super premium category, with a price tag to match (comparing it to similarly aged releases from other distilleries and bottlings)
However, here's the great news. The RRP for this is £135.
But let's not forget... old whisky doesn't necessarily mean great whisky does it ;-)
Let's dive in for a dram.
Caol Ila - 25 Years Old - 43% abv
Nose: Very expressive and complex indeed. Where to start... Lemon zest, hints of black pepper, cream fudge, a waft of licorice, classic Caol Ila coal dust, but no where near as definitive. Then we get the peat. It's such a gentle, elegant aroma, that wraps itself around your nostrils and almost says, 'come and find me when you're relaxed and ready'. Quite striking in its approach. There's also a more surprising fruity edge to this- a hint of dare I say it, the exotic?? Mango perhaps. In any case, what we have here is a belter of a nose. Job done.
Palate: You can see before it even reaches your mouth that it's going to be oily. The palate gets coated from the first initial sip, with a rich, syrupy texture. It's very sweet on the entry, with a big hit of brown sugar, into a broad, malty note. Then comes the peat, much more prominent than the nose, but still refined and balanced. More sweetness with golden syrup, some notes of chewy toffee and a little light diced green apple for good measure.
Finish: Lingering notes of something floral and fruity stick to your gums, while the undercurrent of peat washes past. Superb and very lengthy.
Overall: This has to be right up there with the best Caol Ila's we've tasted- the last lot being the Feis Ile bottlings. It has such a subtlety, demanding (but in a hushed tone) that you take your time.
It's 10am and i'm sat on the new 'terraced' area at Caskstrength towers, with another glass of this. I finished the evening previously in the same spot, 25yo Caol Ila in hand and still I feel there's more to discover here. Mrs Caskstrength and I have been looking at purchasing some Jack Vettriano prints recently and if anything, they compare brilliantly- gaze into 'Dancer In Emerald' or 'The Drifter' and the lighting, the texture and sheer emotion of his work demands your fullest attention. This Caol Ila deserves exactly the same.