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Caol Ila is pronounced “Cull Eela”. It’s the Gaelic name for the Sound of Islay, which separates the island from Jura. For some, the distillery’s pronunciation is as remote as its location, sitting as it does on the rugged eastern coast, where it has remained hidden from view since 1846. However you say it, the fine, smoky whisky produced by generations of islanders is worth exploring.
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The finish in question here is Muscatel casks and you can tell that from the start, as the nose is filled with a rich, sweet, and very pronounced dusky fruitiness — sloes and plums. The smoke as a result is diminished as are the grassy/bacony notes. While the smoke does emerge from its fruity bubble on the tongue, the effect is almost liqueur-like. It’s a very pleasing dram, but the question is, is it Caol Ila?
Dave Broom, Whisky Advocate Summer 2012
Touches of creamy smoke, along with walnut rinds, almonds and lemongrass make this a sensually appealing whisky on the nose. The palate is perfectly rounded: sugared, pine smoke; sour spring grass; grapefruit; and, nutmeg linger in the mouth. Then comes a finish that keeps working until, a minute after it’s gone, you get a bitter bite that caps the experience off right at the back of the throat. It’s lovely.
Alwynne Gwilt, June 2012, www.misswhisky.com
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