Caol Ila 25 y.o. (2011) Review

Caol Ila 25 y.o. (2011)030

43% abv

Score:  88.5/100


I last tasted this one at home amid a small range, side by side with the Caol Ila 30 year old special release and a couple others.  While this 25 year old distillery bottling is served up at a rather anemic 43% abv, the 30 year old weighs in a much more strapping 55.1% abv.  I should also make known that there was this nagging little voice in the back of my skull that kept whispering about how spectacular the old 25 year old cask strength edition was.  Ill-advised preconceptions had me coming into this one less than enthused for the low abv, I hate to admit it, but still eager to try.

Happy to report that while it was indeed a little thin, it was certainly not lacking for character or quality.  In fact I found it not dissimilar to Port Ellen of comparable vintage.  Not much of a surprise there, really, as these two malts have almost always matured to a similar profile by this age bracket.  Delicate whisky that deserves complete attention, arrives with little bombast, but lingers beyond the last sips.  That’s an admirable quality for a low test, chill-filtered (and probably coloured) whisky.

My favorite Caol Ila by no means, but one I would love to have made available locally on a much more regular basis.

Nose:  Almost Port Ellen-esque.  Slightly grassy and herbal.  A touch of lime.  Very fresh and light.  Cooking oil on wood.  Faint, faint smoke.  Sweet and dessert-like.  Some vanilla.  Pastry and a little orange and lemon.

Palate:  Slightly leathery at first.  Again…I’d probably guess Port Ellen or older Caol Ila if tasted blind.  Oak.  Oysters on the shell.  Notes of lemon.  Very bitter and strong vanilla.  A little bit of smoke now.  It grows bigger on the tongue.  Smoked apples skins.

Thoughts:  Lovely whisky but a tad disappointing nevertheless.  So many great notes.  Should have been left intact, high strength and unfiltered.  Oh well.  We can carry on about what we don’t have or lean back and acknowledge that this is still a very special malt.


 – Reviewed by:  Curt

 – Photo:  Curt

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