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Monday, July 13, 2020

Caol Ila Distillery Exclusive 2017

Let's keep the Caol Ila reviews going. Last week I reviewed 28 and 29 year old Caol Ilas. This week I shall drink some younger stuff, including one on Friday that may challenge the 29's quality.

Though I respect the spirit produced by the modern Caol Ila distillery, it's the last facility on Islay that I'd choose to visit. But I am thankful to have gotten an opportunity to try one of their Distillery Exclusive bottlings. The exclusives from Diageo's Clynelish and Lagavulin were good but fell short of their distilleries' excellent standard expressions. Thus, The Optimism Level is set to "This is probably not terrible."

Distillery: Caol Ila
Region: Islay
Owner: Diageo
Age: ???
Maturation: ???
Release Year: 2017
Outturn: 3000 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 58.8%
(from a bottle split)

The nose begins with nuts, fresh cut grass and smoked meat. Then peanuts, oats and slivovitz. A fermenting fruit note appears with time, alongside some sour apple candy. Ashes and stones on the palate. Its sweetness grows with time, pushing down smaller notes of ham, wheatgrass and flowers. It finishes hot and peppery with plenty of mesquite smoke. Some apples chips and wheatgrass as well.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or 1⅔ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
Yeast, cashews, oats, smoked vanilla bean and burning leaves comprise the nose, while the palate is made up of ocean water, wood smoke, lemon juice and lots of sugar. The finish matches the palate, with some additional barley notes.

I'm posting the whiskies youngest to oldest this week, and I'd assumed Wednesday's 9 year old would have been posted today, but then I drank this Distillery Exclusive and I'd be surprised if it spent as much as eight years in oak. As with the Clynelish and Lagavulin, Diageo doesn't seem to have painted over some ultra-young whisky with aggressive casks, so they get some brownie points there. But there has been A LOT of baby CI coming from the indie bottlers over the past three years, and this official release doesn't do anything to top most of the young single casks I've had. It also falls short of Caol Ila's standard releases. It's not bad whisky, in fact a bit of water brightens it up, but there's a wealth of better Caol Ila options out there.

Availability - Secondary market
Pricing - ???
Rating - 82