Coopers Choice: Caol Ila 1992 (Scottish Islay Single Malt Single Cask Whisky: 17 Years: 46% ABV)

Visual: Grain with just a hint of gold.

Viscosity: Very slow thin puckering.

Nose: Light salt at a distance. Medium peat, though heavier than a standard Caol Ila. Warming. Light rockiness. Quite smooth. Touch of apple and custard, then peanuts and cider toffee.  Water negates most of the complexity – leave this one dry.

Body:  Very sweet and smooth front hit. Toffee and salt. Peat at the back. Tingling, stewed apples and pears. Water adds massive apple and custard sweetness.

Finish: Beef and dry moss. Whole meal bread and peanut butter. Water makes milk chocolate with light spice.

Conclusion: I had to take a look around when drinking this to make sure I wasn’t picking up someone’s food in the aroma. Each lift of the glass brought a different take on the spirit, and brought forth so strongly and so forthright that I found it hard to imagine I could have missed it before.

Water then should be avoided as, while it makes it much easier to sip, it makes for a much simpler sweet whisky. It seems its great flavours are tied up in the struggle against its force.

When taken dry it can take a bit to get past that alcohol tingle, but when you do so you get such a varied range of peanut, pear and apple that mix with the usual restrained Caol Ila take on the peat and salt.

The main weakness that is that its greatest flavours are in the struggle, and lost if opened up.  It’s still worth taking the time to appreciate, a fine if quirky take in this distinguished Islay spirit.

Background: (Distilled 1992, bottled 2009). I had drunk this a while back but had not had my tasting note kit with me, so dropped back to the pleasant theatre side pub that had this nice Caol Ila oddity.  Caol Ila is a Distillery with a spirit I have yet to find a bad example of, and seems to have a good selection of independent bottling to choose from.  Drunk mid day on a weekend with nice relaxing warmth to the day and no need to rush.