The day offered up various whisky tasting experiences - straight up, blind, with food, on the sea, with music, in cocktails, in the warehouse, with the operators. Something for everyone!
Sjögren, is Marketing Manager and Partner of Svenska Eldvatten, an independent bottler in Sweden, and a good person to follow on Instagram if you like to drool over photos of rare whiskies.
David started his tasting by passing round some new make spirit, and inviting us to rub it on our hand. The unmistakeable aroma of smoke and that unique Caol Ila medicinal nose was very evident, even from this spirit straight out of the still, and not yet whisky. (Scotch whisky has to mature in oak casks for at least three years before it can be called whisky).
The Caol Ila character comes, in part, from concerto barley, malted, then dried with a peat level of around 39ppm; and a distillation process involving lots of copper interaction. Maturation is mainly in refill hogsheads, with more emphasis on the spirit than the barrel. Of the 7 million litres produced annually, about 20% goes to malt whisky, the rest to blends. To put these volumes further into perspective, Port Ellen Malting works, also owned by Diageo, produces about 550 tonnes of malt a week, and 350 tonnes of that goes to Caol Ila.
|loading the malt into trucks for the distilleries|
Caol Ila 12 year old. Possibly one of the most distinctive Single Malt Scotches for my nose. Aromas of TCP (an antiseptic introduced in 1918 and popular in the UK), lemon, lime, smoke, tarry seaspray; smoky and medicinal on the palate, with a long, spicy finish. As David explained, the aim is for un-influential casks to let the whisky character shine through. And it does.
Caol Ila 25 year old. Elegant with age, golden raisins, subdued but evident Caol Ila character, beautifully balanced. I'll take this medicine any day!
Stitchell Reserve. A tribute to Billy Stitchell, who retired after a very long career. (Read about my great tasting day with Billy on a previous visit). 59% ABV, about 15 years old, perfumed nose, beeswax, apple crumble and custard, spice on the palate and a long finish. Slàinte Billy!
|David Wood - Caol Ila Distillery Manager|
And what's required after all that Caol Ila tasting? Scallops in Caol Ila.
In my next post, I'll be writing about Gartbreck - soon to be Islay's next distillery. If you enjoy these stories, consider signing up for email updates. You'll only receive one when a new story is posted. Just fill in your email address in the box at the top of the blog in the right hand column.