I’m not certain there is any distillery out there that has a greater representation among independent bottlings than Caol Ila. They’re simply EVERYWHERE, and to be honest…they’re more staggered in terms of profile and quality than the back catalog of Metallica.
Interestingly though, through all of these variants, there aren’t as many truly old Caol Ilas out there as you might imagine. In fact, to date this is the oldest whisky I’ve tried from Islay’s most prolific distillery. It was distilled in 1983, when I was about 5 years old, and bottled in 2013, when I was…decidedly older. Ahem. This 30 year old came from a single butt (#1096).
A mate of mine, before the cork was popped on this wizened old malt, said his initial impressions of it (from a prior sampling opportunity) were that it was quite in line with many of the older Port Ellen releases. After having tried it now, I can sorta see the parallels, but wouldn’t necessarily make the comparison myself. It’s more an extension of the more typical delicate Caol Ila profile, but with an added creaminess and a vastly understated (comparatively speaking) citric profile.
It’s a little pricey…and most likely tough to find…but well worth it if you can. One of the best Caol Ilas I’ve tried.
Nose: Sweet and creamy. Hot cross buns. Stretchy, chewy white taffee or nougat. Vanilla and melted white chocolate. Lemon. Very faint smoke. Some very soft syrupy fruits (pear, green grape, orange…maybe touches of peach). Again…not so sure about those comparisons to Port Ellen. This is much sweeter and creamier.
Palate: Fruit cocktail. Tangy tangerine and pineapple. Smoke. Black currant. Unbaked spicy dough. Great oily mouthfeel and big beautiful flavours.
Thoughts: Wow…there is a great balance in this bottle. A great cask at an ideal age. Love the pronounced and unique fruit profile. An old Coal Ila with a lot of life in it still.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt