According to my handy, pocket-sized, 6″ thick, 15lb., 1961 Websters New International Dictionary (2nd Edition, unabridged), “smoke” is defined thusly:
smoke (smōk), n. [AS. smoca; akin to AS. smeocan to smoke, smēcan to smoke, smēc, smyc, smoke, LG. & D. smook smoke, G. schmauch, Gr. smychiein to smolder, Lith. smaugti suffocate, choke.] 1. the gaseous products of burning organic materials, as wood, coal, peat, tobacco,etc., when rendered visible by the presence of small particles of carbon, which finally settle as soot…
Just a little etymological prelude. If the Ancient Greeks were drinking Caol Ila 12 Year Old, I think they’d sip, smile, look at each other and say, “smychiein”
Nose: Peat smoke, but a softer, less insistent peat smoke, less medicinal and strong than Ardbeg or Laphroig. A little wood smoke as well…perhaps a little smoke from burning grass. Orange or even tangerine citrus. Faint floral and vanilla notes as well.
Palate: Begins sweet & rich and has a wonderful oily, coating mouth feel. The peat smoke here is bright and mingles with other smokey flavors like green wood smoke and a little pipe smoke. Holiday spices like cinnamon, nutmeg even a little clove but with no drying quality. In fact, though it has only faint citrus notes on the palate, it has a very “acidic” quality in that it’s mouth-watering and, I’ll be honest, extremely hard to stop drinking.
Finish: Long, phenolic and a little peppery, but still with a good roundness. Smooth.
Thoughts: I love this whisky. Wonderfully balanced with all the requisite Islay components, only presented brightly and cleanly, not brooding and heavy. Smokey and rich yet deft & nimble, this is a happy, sunny day Islay.