Google Caol Ila, quite a few

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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

November 3, 2015


Caol Ila, quite a few

More Caol Ila, starting with an ultra-young one that should be as close to the raw distillate as a… spirit receiver. No, not too sure about that one either.

Caol Ila 5 yo 2008/2014 (46%, Douglas of Drumlanrig, refill hogshead, cask #10569, 409 bottles)

Caol Ila 5 yo 2008/2014 (46%, Douglas of Drumlanrig, refill hogshead, cask #10569, 409 bottles) Three stars and a half They’ll soon sell us barley plus yeast ;-). Colour: white wine. Nose: pure, clean, immaculate. Totally Caol Ila. Ashes, almonds, smoke, crabs, seaweed, white peaches, barley. Mouth: embarrassingly perfect. I’m dead sure this is too young, but the zesty peatiness manages to offset the (probable) feinty notes that must be there, but that you just won’t detect. I mean, I imagine. Perhaps touches of bananas? I some way, it reminds me of the 5yo Taliskers by the same bottlers (in other series). The purity does the job – and who needs complexity in that case? Finish: medium, sweet. Can you smoke sugar? Limy and mentholy aftertaste. Comments: I do not think a 5 years old whisky can get better than this. SGP:456 - 84 points.

Caol Ila 12 yo (43%, OB, +/- 2015)

Caol Ila 12 yo (43%, OB, +/- 2015) Four stars Another one that we’re trying to follow almost every year. Colour: pale straw. Nose: a longer ageing seems to have imparted more mineral notes, as well as a ‘wider’ coastalness. Iodine, seaweed, bandages, fresh baguette (dough), then rather citrus, as expected. Lemons, grapefruits, a little wet chalk. Bonfire on the beach. Mouth: hey, this burst and roars, and it’s not afraid of the stronger 5yo at all. In fact I find more smoke, more ashes, and more medicinal notes, and while re-reading my notes for last year’s version, indeed I just cannot understand why some folks would call this a ‘lighter peaty Islay’. Agreed, it’s not extremely fat on your palate, but it’s shock-full of peaty/ashy flavours. Even at 43% vol. Finish: long, with a perfect balance between coastal smoke and zesty fruitiness. The aftertaste is very ashy. Comments: up one point. Bargain. SGP:356 - 85 points.

Caol Ila 'Moch' (43%, OB, +/-2015)

Caol Ila 'Moch' (43%, OB, +/-2015) Three stars and a halfI’m really wondering if they’re selling much of this in France, or in French-speaking Belgium, Canada, or Switzerland. Because as I may have written before, moch/moche means ugly or awful in French. But I haven’t found it moche when I first tried it a few years ago (WF 83). Colour: straw. Nose: I’m glad we’ve had the 5yo before, because this is so similar that they’re almost undistinguishable. This Moch is perhaps a tad ashier, and a notch less fruity. But after two minutes, it’s the other way ‘round. Mouth: indeed. Somewhere between the 12 and the 5yo. Ashes, smoke… The smoke’s a tad acrid, perhaps, but I guess that was the plan. Plenty of soot. Finish: medium, sooty, ashy, with a little lemon liqueur in the background. Comments: perhaps a tad monolithic after the lovely 12, but it does the job. But wouldn’t it be possible to name it ‘Joli’ for France? ;-) SGP:346 - 83 points.

Port Askaig 16 yo (45.8%, Specialty Drinks, 2015)

Port Askaig 16 yo (45.8%, Specialty Drinks, 2015) Four stars and a half A vatting of sherry and bourbon casks. Obviously, we have no proof that this is Caol Ila. Neither should the strength suggest this is Talisker. Colour: gold. Nose: ‘when I smell green olives, I’m happy’ used to say a Provençal writer of noble London descent. The fact is that this nose is superb, with something antiquated that would hint at the 1970s on Islay. New scuba diving suit, ink, garden bonfire, smoked fish… And olives! Mouth: perfect. All of the above plus a touch of mocha, maybe from the sherry casks. Extremely well composed. Finish: long, both elegant and full. Salty marzipan, brine, coffee toffee. Sadly, no more olives. Assertive (as they used to say in Palo Alto), very ashy. Comments: an impressive composition, true to the distillery. Loved the oily profile, some parts remind me of the first Ten that Ardbeg had after Glenmo had bought the distillery. You know, ‘introducing Ten years old’… SGP:447 - 89 points.

Caol Ila 17 yo 'Unpeated Style' (55.9%, OB, 2015)

Caol Ila 17 yo 'Unpeated Style' (55.9%, OB, Special Release, 2015) Four stars This is the brand new unpeated-but-still-a-little-peated ‘Highlands Caol Ila’. More ‘less peated than normal’ than unpeated according to previous batches, but let’s see… If there’s no peat at all, it’ll die anyway after the Port Askaig. Colour: gold. Nose: indeed, this is rather lightly peated. I’d love to hear Diageo’s blenders on when they first got these batches. So, this is getting rather complex, with herbal teas, eucalyptus, damp earth and leaves, a touch of liquorice wood, old boughs… It’s only after a good three minutes that lighter and fruitier notes come through Around barbecued marshmallows, perhaps. With water: gets herbal and rather mentholy. I find it grassier than the earlier 14, for example. Now I love these waxy tones, the paraffin, the linseed oil… Mouth (neat): really tastes like some Glenkinchie into which someone would have poured a little ‘regular’ Caol Ila. Herbs, mint, banana sweets, pineapple drops, melissa… With water: not at all, S. Fatter, more ‘Highlands’, and much more on citrus. Some salt coming through. Takes water very well. Finish: medium, with an unexpected smoky return. More salt in the aftertaste. Perhaps ‘ideas’ of bay leaves. Comments: very very good, just a little hard to follow. That’s me, obviously. A malt unlike any other. SGP:652 - 85 points.

We’ve got bags of other new Caol Ilas, but let’s have a very last one for today… We might go on tomorrow…

Caol Ila 12 yo 2003/2015 (58.1%, Adelphi, cask #301266, 285 bottles)

Caol Ila 12 yo 2003/2015 (58.1%, Adelphi, cask #301266, 285 bottles) Two stars and a half Adelphi had a great sister cask in 2013 (#301261, WF 88). Colour: gold. Nose: it’s an almondy one, which I love. Opening a pack of smoked almonds. Plus seawater, citrons, ‘good’ rubber, green tobacco, and flints. With water: some green oak coming out. Not too sure… Noses a bit like some ‘craft’ Caol Ila made by some mad craft American distiller (between two trials, haha). All these spices… Mouth (neat): a leafy sucrosity and plenty of green spices. This is not for everyone, if I may, there’s a lot of spicy oak extracts in there. Cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, bitter almonds, walnuts… You have to like this. With water: definitely, it’s about to lose its Caol-Ilaness. A cask that was more active than Lady Gaga on acid. Finish: long, with green tannins and spices. Comments: Adelphi often like to offer monstrous whiskies – in a good way. This is one of them, and it really is spectacular. As if they’ve used new octaves. It’s just not very Caol Ila anymore, in my very humble opinion. SGP:476 - 78 points.

More Caol Ila tomorrow. I have the feeling that we might taste our 500th Caol Ila in the coming months…

More tasting notes Check the index of all Caol Ila I've tasted so far







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