Whisky Review: Caol Ila 1982 Aged 35 Years Diageo Special Release 2018

Style: Smoky, Spicy and Complex

Fiery spice carrying iodine blotches, black pepper and maritime sprays. Red chilli and radish wrapping around an elegantly refined sweetness – tropical mangoes infused with homemade lemon cordial. Beneath it sits a layer of seaweed and kale, Himalayan rock salt sprinkles and even a pinch of yellow curry powder (!). Bonfire smoke roasting gently, while the sweetness slowly morphs into orange confectioneries and grape Fanta. Another red chilli flash, the tone gradually sinks lower and we have cappuccino and dark liquorice towards the end. A bit hot but very complex.

An immense burst of flavours at the forefront – the tropical and citrus fruits, maritime notes, peat, oak and malt are all fired together in a single shotgun round, very powerful and explosive… Black peppercorns, a couple of mineral flicks, followed by another burst of orange citrus and succulent lime konjac. Ashes dancing in the sea breeze, chocolate oak with a light iodine brush. Liquorice roots tossing into the fire, red fruits beginning to emerge after a while, mostly in the form of blackcurrants, decorated with some frosty mint. Delicious. Mocha taking a hint of rum. Honeycomb and paraffin sealing off a final layer of maritime smoke. Absolutely brilliant.

Going a bit soft now, lemonade, vanilla icing sugar and kombu candies lingering. Malt syrup trickling down very slowly with a sense of pureness.

Amazing. The intensity and complexity of this dram are almost second to none. It feels this has taken in all the specialities of well-matured Caol Ila from that era – The elegant citrus/tropical fruitiness, gentle but charming peat smoke, dignified oak, complex layerings and sometimes a certain degree of ferociousness, everything rolled into one and generated an incredibly compact and complex expression. Extraordinary. Probably a tad too spicy when assessed individually but I think it still possesses all the qualities to be a modern-legend bottling.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[58.1% | Original Bottling | 1982 Distilled | 2018 Bottled | Bottle Number: 1012 | 3276 Bottles | Natural Cask Strength | Vatted | **+]