Caol Ila 17YO Unpeated Scotch Whisky

$280.00
Sale price

Regular price $280.00

Caol Ila (“Cull Eela”) is a staple powerhouse of Islay Scotch whisky. Now owned by Diageo, it is the largest producer on Islay in terms of quantity. The whisky that isn’t placed into Caol Ila single malt bottles goes into Johnnie Walker or other blends, because the beautiful balance of peat adds a wonderful complexity and mystery where needed. In fact, it’s importance in the blended Scotch world is indeed the reason for Caol Ila’s modern day success. However, the Caol Ila 12 being reviewed here is the reason Caol Ila shines in the public eye.

Originally built in 1846, it is argued that this distillery has the best view on Islay as it overlooks the Sound of Islay from which it receives its namesake. It was rebuilt in the 1970’s as blended Scotch demand increased, with another equipment and production expansion in 2011. Located just feet from the salty ocean waters, four large pot stills operate at 50% capacity 24 hours a day [2]. This low fill allows for high copper contact and plenty of interaction time within the still. Larger, tall stills also help reduct phenol content. A tribute to style and taste, this method helps give Caol Ila its distinctive ‘balanced’ reputation, where big flavour is carried through with every smooth sip.

Another year and another delicious un-peated Caol Ila at the affordable end of Diageo's Special Releases.  This is the tenth release in the series. At 17 years old, it's the oldest yet too, having been distilled in 1997.

Tasting Note by The Cahn:

Nose: Toffees. It really does smell just like toffees. Allspice, lots of brown sugar, a touch of anise, Cinnamon Grahams and even a hint of chilli.

Palate: Tangy toffee now, a little chalk and increasingly charred oak spice, charred oak and, yep, definitely some smoke in there...

Finish: What do you know, it's smoky!

Overall: The smokiest un-peated release for many years, with plenty of bourbon cask character.

--------THE PRODUCER--------

Caol Ila

Caol Ila is hidden in a quiet cove near Port Askaig. Many consider this locality to be the wildest and most picturesque of the island. Situated on Loch Nam Ban, the site is ideal thanks to the abundant supply of good water. Caol Ila (Gaelic for 'the Sound of Islay') was built in 1846 by Hector Henderson - a Glasgow businessman with a keen interest in distilling. Caol Ila is considered to be one of the lighter of the Islays.

The best place to start when you are pairing food and wine is to think about the structural elements of both the food and wines. These elements are: sweetness, acidity, bitterness, umami, chilli heat and fat.

We have listed these elements in foods and how you can add wines with similar or contrasting elements to help create harmony in your matches.

Sweetness 

Sweet foods can overpower dry wines, white or red, making them appear acidic, neutral or bitter. In order to reduce this effect you should pair sweet foods with sweet wines. 

Acidity

Acidic foods, like fresh citrus, tomatoes or salads laden with vinaigrettes, will overpower the acidity in a wine making them appear flabby or less acidic than they were. In order to reduce this effect you should pair acidic foods with wines that have a higher acidity such as Champagne, Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc.

Acidity is a key element in creating balance in a dish or a food-and-wine match. If the foods are going to reduce the acidity in the wines then you need to add your own bit of acidity by bringing a more acidic wine to the table. It is the same principle behind adding lemon juice to seafood dishes, as seafood tends to have quite low natural acidity.

Bitterness

If a food is high in bitterness then it will make the wine appear bitter, or it will increase the perception of bitterness (tannins) in the wine. In order to reduce this effect you should pair bitter foods with wines that are not bitter but rather have refreshing acidity.

Umami (Savoury)

Foods that are highly savoury, like mushrooms, will increase the bitterness or acidic perception we have in wines. In order to reduce this effect you should pair umami rich foods with wines that are very fruity and do not have medium-high tannins. 

Often foods that are more savoury are best matched with white wines like Chardonnay or Soave as these do not have tannins but have lots of fruity flavours nor do they have extremely high acidity.

Chilli Heat

Chilli heat is similar to umami rich foods where by it will increase the bitterness or acidic perception as well as the alcoholic burn we have in wines. In order to reduce this effect you should pair chilli heat rich foods with wines that are very fruity but also have higher sweetness.

Wines that are just a touch off-dry like many Gewurztraminer or Riesling work best with chilli foods like a curry as they will be both a bit sweet but also very fruity. If you aren't a white wine drinker then you should consider red wines that have lower tannins such as a Pinot Noir or a Gamay Noir. 

Fatty

Foods that are high in fat will make the wines feel flabby and less fruity. In order to reduce this effect you should pair fatty foods with wines that have high acidity. This is similar to the rule of adding in acidity (in the form of citrus) to seafood to help balance out not just the acidity but to cut down the perception of fattiness in the seafood. 

This is why when you are having a piece of red meat that is high in fat, like lamb, then you should pair it with a Pinot Noir instead of a Merlot as a Pinot Noir will have a higher acidity and will help to balance out the dish.

 

 

These rules will help you with starting to think about how to create pairings. It often isn't helpful to think about 'red wine and red meat' or 'white wine and fish' because it is actually the structural elements of the wine and food that are what need to be balanced. It is the acidity in white wines that work well with cutting through the fattiness of a piece of fish but you could get that acidity through a Pinot Noir. 

Caol Ila (“Cull Eela”) is a staple powerhouse of Islay Scotch whisky. Now owned by Diageo, it is the largest producer on Islay in terms of quantity. The whisky that isn’t placed into Caol Ila single malt bottles goes into Johnnie Walker or other blends, because the beautiful balance of peat adds a wonderful complexity and mystery where needed. In fact, it’s importance in the blended Scotch world is indeed the reason for Caol Ila’s modern day success. However, the Caol Ila 12 being reviewed here is the reason Caol Ila shines in the public eye.

Originally built in 1846, it is argued that this distillery has the best view on Islay as it overlooks the Sound of Islay from which it receives its namesake. It was rebuilt in the 1970’s as blended Scotch demand increased, with another equipment and production expansion in 2011. Located just feet from the salty ocean waters, four large pot stills operate at 50% capacity 24 hours a day [2]. This low fill allows for high copper contact and plenty of interaction time within the still. Larger, tall stills also help reduct phenol content. A tribute to style and taste, this method helps give Caol Ila its distinctive ‘balanced’ reputation, where big flavour is carried through with every smooth sip.

Another year and another delicious un-peated Caol Ila at the affordable end of Diageo's Special Releases.  This is the tenth release in the series. At 17 years old, it's the oldest yet too, having been distilled in 1997.

Tasting Note by The Cahn:

Nose: Toffees. It really does smell just like toffees. Allspice, lots of brown sugar, a touch of anise, Cinnamon Grahams and even a hint of chilli.

Palate: Tangy toffee now, a little chalk and increasingly charred oak spice, charred oak and, yep, definitely some smoke in there...

Finish: What do you know, it's smoky!

Overall: The smokiest un-peated release for many years, with plenty of bourbon cask character.

--------THE PRODUCER--------

Caol Ila

Caol Ila is hidden in a quiet cove near Port Askaig. Many consider this locality to be the wildest and most picturesque of the island. Situated on Loch Nam Ban, the site is ideal thanks to the abundant supply of good water. Caol Ila (Gaelic for 'the Sound of Islay') was built in 1846 by Hector Henderson - a Glasgow businessman with a keen interest in distilling. Caol Ila is considered to be one of the lighter of the Islays.

The best place to start when you are pairing food and wine is to think about the structural elements of both the food and wines. These elements are: sweetness, acidity, bitterness, umami, chilli heat and fat.

We have listed these elements in foods and how you can add wines with similar or contrasting elements to help create harmony in your matches.

Sweetness 

Sweet foods can overpower dry wines, white or red, making them appear acidic, neutral or bitter. In order to reduce this effect you should pair sweet foods with sweet wines. 

Acidity

Acidic foods, like fresh citrus, tomatoes or salads laden with vinaigrettes, will overpower the acidity in a wine making them appear flabby or less acidic than they were. In order to reduce this effect you should pair acidic foods with wines that have a higher acidity such as Champagne, Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc.

Acidity is a key element in creating balance in a dish or a food-and-wine match. If the foods are going to reduce the acidity in the wines then you need to add your own bit of acidity by bringing a more acidic wine to the table. It is the same principle behind adding lemon juice to seafood dishes, as seafood tends to have quite low natural acidity.

Bitterness

If a food is high in bitterness then it will make the wine appear bitter, or it will increase the perception of bitterness (tannins) in the wine. In order to reduce this effect you should pair bitter foods with wines that are not bitter but rather have refreshing acidity.

Umami (Savoury)

Foods that are highly savoury, like mushrooms, will increase the bitterness or acidic perception we have in wines. In order to reduce this effect you should pair umami rich foods with wines that are very fruity and do not have medium-high tannins. 

Often foods that are more savoury are best matched with white wines like Chardonnay or Soave as these do not have tannins but have lots of fruity flavours nor do they have extremely high acidity.

Chilli Heat

Chilli heat is similar to umami rich foods where by it will increase the bitterness or acidic perception as well as the alcoholic burn we have in wines. In order to reduce this effect you should pair chilli heat rich foods with wines that are very fruity but also have higher sweetness.

Wines that are just a touch off-dry like many Gewurztraminer or Riesling work best with chilli foods like a curry as they will be both a bit sweet but also very fruity. If you aren't a white wine drinker then you should consider red wines that have lower tannins such as a Pinot Noir or a Gamay Noir. 

Fatty

Foods that are high in fat will make the wines feel flabby and less fruity. In order to reduce this effect you should pair fatty foods with wines that have high acidity. This is similar to the rule of adding in acidity (in the form of citrus) to seafood to help balance out not just the acidity but to cut down the perception of fattiness in the seafood. 

This is why when you are having a piece of red meat that is high in fat, like lamb, then you should pair it with a Pinot Noir instead of a Merlot as a Pinot Noir will have a higher acidity and will help to balance out the dish.

 

 

These rules will help you with starting to think about how to create pairings. It often isn't helpful to think about 'red wine and red meat' or 'white wine and fish' because it is actually the structural elements of the wine and food that are what need to be balanced. It is the acidity in white wines that work well with cutting through the fattiness of a piece of fish but you could get that acidity through a Pinot Noir.