Caol Ila (kaal ee-lah) was always the last word in iodiney in my previous tastings of the 1991 Cadenhead 15 year single cask bottling. This current 12 year expression impressed the heck out of me with its sweeter flowery side and gentle nature. I usually dock points for being less assertive - but this is a real winner.
Pale gold/straw color in the glass.
The nose up front is peat smoke and iodine. With time rubber and medicinal notes and a hint of sweetness and richness come underneath that opens into toffee and nougat. It's a complex and lovely aroma.
Entry is toffee and vanilla sweet with immediate vanilla floral notes and a nicely moderate peat smoke presentation that turns intensely honeyed and floral at midpalate after extensive time in the glass. At the finish the smoke and medicinal iodine reasserts itself and a bitter edge adds a citrus quality. As the afterglow fades the medicinal note lingers and becomes herbal - eucalyptus? Finish is long but gentle. Mouthfeel is silky and light. There is a deft and nimble quality here that is absent from most Islay malts with this much peat smoke in evidence.
Big honeyed peat, but with a gentle edge (for an Islay, anyway). Caol Ila 12 is a vibrant strong peat and sea air voyage with a lovely honey sweet floral quality. The whole ensemble of disparate elements is remarkably well balanced and, frankly, delicious. This is a must for Islay enthusiasts of peat and ocean, but with it's flowery sweetness and lighter texture, weight, and proof, it's also a bridge into this flavor profile for drinkers of "regular" scotch. Highly recommended.