This spring sees the dawn of a new expression of Caol Ila™, the famous Single Malt Scotch Whisky made on the east coast of Islay since the distillery was founded by Hector Henderson in 1846.
And this one has been specially bottled just for the Friends of the Classic Malts.
Caol Ila™ Moch™ Single Malt Scotch Whisky is the latest exciting addition to the Caol Ila family. It is the first single malt from the distillery to be selected entirely on the basis of its taste, rather than age, cask wood, strength or finish.
And ‘Moch’ means Dawn in Gaelic. Islay’s east coast is the first on the island to see the dawn, just as it is the first - shielded by Cnoc Dubh, the Black Hill behind the distillery - to receive the night as the sun sinks in the Atlantic on the far side of the island.
Caol Ila Moch is on sale in the first instance just to registered Friends of the Classic Malts, in Northern European markets. After a highly successful pilot launch in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, it will shortly be introduced to Friends of the Classic Malts in Sweden, France, and the UK.
There’s already been high praise from a few commentators lucky enough to get a sneak preview.
The Whisky Exchange blog wrote: “A hugely enjoyable romp through Islay’s middle ground. … Caol Ila Moch is a joy, it’s as simple as that. …”
And the cask-strength bloggers said: “An absolute delight …It’s consistent and totally moreish.”
Dave Broom (@davebroomwhisky) tweeted: “Whisky Live London a pleasant memory … Best in show? Caol Ila Moch & Hazelburn Sauternes. …Caol Ila Moch like nibbling on Parma ham & melon at a posh seaside BBQ. Seek it out by joining Friends of the Classic Malts.”
Special treats for Friends of the Classic Malts
Caol Ila Moch is the latest in a long series of special bottlings for the Friends of the Classic Malts, which have included exclusive limited-edition bottlings of, amongst other, Talisker™, Lagavulin™, Cragganmore™, Glenkinchie™ and Clynelish™. But, unlike the earlier bottlings in this series, it may eventually be put on more general release, subject to consumer reactions.
Distillery Manager: “Dawn suits me”
No age statement? Billy Stitchell, long-time distillery manager at Caol Ila, says: “Moch is selected for taste rather than age, and you’ll still find it every inch a Caol Ila. It’s a new departure for us, to have a whisky that’s not defined by age or strength or finish, but by taste, and it’s an exciting development, I think.”
And why ‘Moch’? Billy said: “I’m an early riser, so for me, a day starts just before dawn. But this place is full of atmosphere at all times of day. The western light is something special and this far north we get wonderful sunsets over the hills and especially, clear dawn light flooding across the Sound, which is what came to mind when we were looking for a name for Moch.“
This is captured dramatically on the carton for Caol Ila Moch, which depicts the dawn moment when the sun starts to climb its way across the sky. In fact the whole Caol Ila range is being repackaged, so that the carton for each expression reflects a particular and appropriate time of day at the distillery: this can already be seen on the cartons of the 25 year old, Distillers Edition™ and 2010 Special Release unpeated expressions.
Caol Ila Moch is bottled at 43% ABV and carries no age statement.
Appearance: Pale gold. Good viscosity.
Nose: Unreduced, clean and fresh like wet, salty sand after the tide has receded. Some smoke behind, as from an old bonfire. Adding a little water brings up more freshness.
Palate: Unreduced, sweet and salty with a balancing acidity, and fresh as a sea breeze. The trademark clean and smoky character of Caol Ila is here. Appetising. Adding water gives a smoother, softer, sweeter feel, still very maritime, with a nice texture. Sweetly drying overall.
Medium bodied, elegant and smooth.
Finish: Quite short, drying and warming with a little bitterness. Lingering smoky aftertaste.
Summary: An absolutely straightforward, no nonsense Caol Ila. Crisp, assertive, direct, and unmistakeable.
Caol Ila Moch is initially being made available to Friends of the Classic Malts in European markets: German, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, France and the United Kingdom. Its UK RRP will be £32.91
In the UK it will be available solely to Friends of the Classic Malts through The Whisky Exchange.
The Caol Ila family
Caol Ila 12 year old, Caol Ila 18 year old, Caol Ila 25 year old, Caol Ila Distillers Edition and Caol Ila Cask Strength are regular expressions of Caol Ila.
In addition, expressions of Caol Ila often appear in the annual limited-edition Special Releases, most recently in 2010 as an unpeated ‘Highland Style’ 12 year old.
The Friends of the Classic Malts™
The Friends of The Classic Malts (FoCM) is Diageo’s direct relationship-building channel to consumers of fine malt whiskies. With over 300,000 members, it is one of the Scotch Malt Whisky industry’s largest and most multi-lingual Relationship Marketing Programme.
The programme is built around the conviction that, in malt whisky, knowledge and appreciation go hand in hand, and contribute to an enjoyable journey of discovery.
Founded nearly 15 years ago, FoCM recruits members at distilleries, through flyers at whisky events, in-pack cards and through the www.malts.com website. Members have free entry to Classic Malts distilleries and frequently receive specially commissioned online content. The Friends are also regularly offered opportunities to buy exclusive special bottlings not available on the open market. Seasonal mailings offer advice on which malts to select as gifts, food and whisky combinations, and opportunities to win exclusive prizes.