Caol Ila Distillers Edition 2001 Moscatel Finish (Official Bottling)

43% ABV, £45-£70 for 70cl

Score: 84/100

What they say:

Each Distillers Edition expression undergoes a second (or ‘double’) maturation in casks that have previously held a fortified wine.

This extraordinarily stylish and complex expression of Caol Ila has been double-matured in carefully selected Moscatel casks. The wood is not over-evident and instead balances perfectly with this richly flavoured single malt.

STRENGTH 43% ABV

APPEARANCE Clear gold

NOSE Wonderfully concentrated pure, clean Caol Ila – peaty and medicinal, with rich fruit, spicy and fragrant. With water, the fragrant smokiness comes singing through.

BODY Medium.

PALATE Sweetness and maltiness strike first, then are quickly overwhelmed by peat smoke and intense, clean, crisp flavours. Caol Ila’s signature smoky bonfires are here, and build to quite a size. Overall, drying, in a beautifully balanced, complex, elegant development, complemented with cinnamon spice.

FINISH Long, rounded, robust and multi-layered.

What I say:

Upon arriving on Islay our first port of call (after calling at the port) was Caol Ila Distillery, a short hike up the hill out of Port Askaig and back down into the next bay just to the north. The distillery name is from the gaelic for Sound of Islay – representing the short watery hop taken from right outside the entrance of the distillery to the Isle of Jura resplendent in the sunshine in front of you.

Our first Islay whisky on Islay was the fine Caol Ila Distillers Edition, distilled in 2001, matured for around 12 years before a year or so finishing in a Moscatel wine cask. Moscatel (or Muscat) is an off-dry sweet and fortified white wine, and its cask impart a sweet and fruity character to the peaty Caol Ila whisky. This was tasted in the warehouse tasting room at Caol Ila Distillery.

Colour:

Full refractive gold

Nose:

Sweet, putty/plasticine/elastoplasts, a little smoke but fights at first with a heavy syrupy fruity aroma before combining into roasted almonds, sugary marzipan and amarretti biscuits (Amaretti di Saronno)

Taste:

Sweet, a little oily before a fizzy orange/lemon zestiness bursts forth, the fruitiness subsides into that characteristic cigarette ash peat so distinctive of Caol Ila, the sugary sweetness lingers

Finish:

Long and vaporous, this fumigates the mouth with peaty smoke, however sweet fruity notes and more marzipan remain, to be discovered

Would I buy it:

Of the numerous Caol Ila expressions we have tried, we found this one to be very enjoyable mostly because of the Moscatel Cask influences. The smokiness and ashen qualities of the peat influence are still to be found but these mostly complex with the sweetness though fail to completely compliment it. Compared against others in Diageo’s Distillers Edition range this is not in the top echelon, but is not far behind.