Google A rain of Caol Ila including our 600th

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

January 21, 2020


A rain of Caol Ila including our 600th

Let’s make it to 600+ Caol Ilas tasted and assessed for these lousy pages… Besides, I know some are considering that Caol Ila’s currently the best spirit on Islay. So much for a mere whisky factory driven by 1990s computers and corporate coldness.

Islay 11 yo 2008/2019 (53.1%, Liquor Library)

Islay 11 yo 2008/2019 (53.1%, Liquor Library) Four stars
Some whisperings from outer space suggested this would be Caol Ila. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s got all the coastal elements for sure (crabs, seawater, oysters) but it’s also got a thin layer of chocolate, beyond the litres of mercurochrome and anything iodine-y that are invading it after just ten seconds. Also a lot of massage balm, the kind that makes you cold (mint) rather than the one that makes you warm (pepper). Oh forget… With water: sour juices, seawater, oyster juice, grapefruit juice, older kelp on a beach, and quite a lot of mercurochrome yet again. Mouth (neat): it’s a very slightly fatter one, with a touch more green pepper as well, all the rest is classic coastal CI, ridden with oysters, menthol, grapefruits and, of course, smoked kippers. Some early official C/S spring to my mind. With water: did anyone ever try to smoke grapefruits and pineapples? I mean, together? Finish: long, with many brines. Caper brine, olives… Comments: as I said we’ve known some young CIs that have been even zestier and more vertical, but this marginally fatter (oak oils) one was very brilliant too. Cheers Australia, good that the fires seem to be more under control (at time of tasting).
SGP:466 - 87 points.

Caol Ila 12 yo (59.3%, Single Cask Nation, bourbon hogshead, cask #510, 2019)

Caol Ila 12 yo (59.3%, Single Cask Nation, bourbon hogshead, cask #510, 2019) Four stars and a half
Could well be a 2007 (well done, S.) Colour: Nose: white wine. olives, Woolite, washing powder, chalk and seawater upfront. Nothing bad to say this far. With water: gets extremely chalky. Green lemons and chalk, this would make the driest sauvignon blanc nose like young PX in comparison. Mouth (neat): exactly Caol Ila, with a little more pink grapefruit and fresh almonds, and a little less mercurochrome. But it burns a bit… With water: it’s not that it would go into subtleties, but there’s always something very satisfying with very pure spirits such as this wee CI. Menthol, lemon juice, sauvignon blanc indeed, seawater, and of course, kippers. Finish: long, sharp blade-y. The fact that there may be hundreds of thousands of similar casks won’t change anything. Comments: as I just said.
SGP:366 - 88 points.

Caol Ila 9 yo 2009/2019 (51.8%, North Star Spirits, PX finish, 378 bottles)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2009/2019 (51.8%, North Star Spirits, PX finish, 378 bottles) Three stars and a half
Okay, I utterly love North Star Spirits and what they do (after all they’ve shipped the latest DB11 to me last year - as a gift) but a peater that’s been PX-ed is usually extremely dissonant in my book. You know, pineapple on pizza, bacon bourbon and so on. Let’s see…  Colour: straw. Nose: well, we’re more than okay, the cask was not a wham-bam first-fill PX-seasoned ‘thing’, and the Caol-Ilaness survived. Let’s say it's a slightly sweetened young CI. With water: it’s funny that the PX made this very young CI more farmyardy, but that’s actually not unseen. I’m not sure anyone could actually fine-tune PX, I rather believe it’s all more or less left to chance, usually. Mouth (neat): indeed we are okay. Some spices here and there, a handful of (rather unnecessary) raisins, and a fine CI altogether. With water: hold on, this works much better now. Seriously, this is good, cleaner, and even pretty dry. Lovely lemons coming out – and say adios to those filthy raisins! Finish: rather long, with good control of the Pedro. Lemons definitely save it in the aftertaste. Comments: In my book, PX is always a rather huge handicap (including at Glendro or at Kavalan), but the lovely young distillate handled the task just fine this time. Now I’m sure discerned PXionados will love it.
SGP:556 - 84 points.

Back to Mother Nature…

Caol Ila 12 yo 2006/2018 (51.6%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead, 322 bottles)

Caol Ila 12 yo 2006/2018 (51.6%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead, 322 bottles) Five stars
Another Limburgian bottling that I have not tried yet. Mea Culpa. Colour: white wine. Nose: this one’s more on the raw ingredients, barley, porridge, grist, yeast, then seaweed, lemons, and just fish. I’m wondering if we couldn’t quaff this on sushi… With water: utterly perfect. This is what you wanna get from your whisky: a feeling of the ingredients (I think – as long as that’s not PX, ha). Jesus bleibet meine Freude! Mouth (neat): immaculate young CI. Limoncello (so sweeter lemons), oysters, bitter almonds, white pepper, angelica, green apples… This is pristine and perfect. With water: even more perfect. Finish: long and perfect, extremely well balanced, fresh… This is the kind of malt that would go well with some foods. Like kippers or bouillabaisse, just randomly. Yeah or sushi. Comments: this one was immaculate.
SGP:466 - 90 points.

Caol Ila 2010/2018 (58.3%, Or Sileis, Legends, oloroso hogshead, cask #HL16888, 292 bottles)

Caol Ila 2010/2018 (58.3%, Or Sileis, Legends, oloroso hogshead, cask #HL16888, 292 bottles) Four stars
Looks like this was bottled by Hunter Laing for our Taiwanese friends. Colour: light gold. Nose: What’ sure is that there’s more oloroso in Jerez, Montilla-Morilles, Huelva or Malaga. Indeed this is pretty fresh and coastal, perhaps a little more citrus-driven than others, and a tad hot perhaps. Hints of flints and graphite. With water: some grass smoke, grist, floor cloth, new fabric and quite a lot of paraffin. Mouth (neat): good and fresh, salty and lemony, with just a few sourer notes, probably from the wine. Like sour cherries. Let’s say it again, I don’t think anything ‘sherry’ is really necessary with Caol Ila. With water: very good, but perhaps not as pristine as most ex-bourbon CIs. Finish: rather long, rather chalkier. Smoked and salted salmon plus lemon in the aftertaste. Comments: very good, no quibbling here, it’s just that the 2006 was really very special.  
SGP:456 - 86 points.

Caol Ila 9 yo 2009/2019 (58.7%, Elixir Distillers ‘Magic Of The Cask’, cask #316103, refill Gonzalez Byass sherry, 308 bottles)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2009/2019 (58.7%, Elixir Distillers ‘Magic Of The Cask’, cask #316103, refill Gonzalez Byass sherry, 308 bottles) Four stars and a half
OK, another try at heavy-ish sherry. But I had thought Dalmore was getting all casks from Gonzalez Byass’s… Colour: gold. Nose: wool, butter cream, butterscotch, lemons, marzipan, praline and furniture polish. This is certainly not your average Caol Ila, looks like its coastalness has been toned down a wee bit. With water: reminds me of these pretty sour white beers they have in Germany. Lemon, yeasts, seawater, dough… Looks like the wine got almost annihilated now. Mouth (neat): balance has been found. Some metal polish, lemons, kippers, salty fudge, and a little smoked ham like they have at our neighbours in the Black Forrest. With water: was it fino?  Green walnuts, touches of dry cider, chalk, kippers… Where are the raisins? Not that we’ll complain, mind you. Finish: rather long, very salty. It’s almost a little margarita-y at times, but it isn’t void of any fatness. Comments: balance was right. Like 99% distillate, 1% sherry. Almost, ha.
SGP:456 - 88 points.

Caol Ila 9 yo 2009/2019 (46%, James Eadie, 1100 bottles)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2009/2019 (46%, James Eadie, 1100 bottles) Four stars
This baby from three casks, so supposedly better than the sum of its parts. Colour: white wine. Nose: perfect grapefruit juice, kelp, oysters, touch of vanilla, fresh almonds and chalk. Mouth: very lovely. Salty lemon juice, margarita, a drop of Cointreau (no we don’t do product placement), seawater, pink grapefruits and other softer citrus, a touch of cider. Finish: sweet peat, as some sometimes say. Comments: some very well-carved young CI at a perfect drinking strength. A tad simple, naturally, but very very very very very, and I mean very good.
SGP:456 - 87 points.

All right, here’s our 600th Caol Ila… Trumpets please, let’s make it an older one!…

WF 600

Caol Ila 37 yo 1982/2019 (56.3%, Kingsbury for Club Qing Hong Kong, butt, cask #700) Five stars
Everything in this name sounds very promising, does it not. Colour: copper. That’s not very common.

Caol Ila 37 yo 1982/2019 (56.3%, Kingsbury for Club Qing Hong Kong, butt, cask #700)

Nose: right. The exhausts of a fine-tuned shovelhead (that’s an old Harley, in case you didn’t know), some old mead, various embrocations, those old toolboxes that one would find at garage sales (obviously, S.), then quite some walnut wine, cigar smoke, a little old balsamic vinegar, chen-pi, cigars, overripe apples, old wardrobes, old books… All that is nearly poetic, surely philosophical. There. With water: a touch of new rubber, moss, dried porcinis, old Cuban cigars, herbal teas, dried mint leaves, patchouli, those sorts of things. A bit hippy, should we add (that may be the patchouli – and I mean patchouli, really). Mouth (neat): ‘good’ sulphur in good measures, really a lot of tobacco and leather, some smoked meats and fish, pemmican and beef jerky, old walnuts aplenty, more walnuts, then even more walnuts… We are, indeed, nearly in Jerez here. I really enjoy the fume-y side of it (old Harleys!) With water: more grasses, loads of green walnuts, nocino, some old liqueurs that went bone-dry, old palo cortado perhaps… Finish: long. Make sure you haven’t added too much water or it would become a little too tannic at this point. Black tea, dried lemon zests, more walnuts, tobacco, leather… Comments: not your usual old Caol Ila, as the sherry’s been pretty buoyant here. It’s actually very tobacco-y, which I personally enjoy a lot, as a former smoker (and very, very occasional cigar smoker).
SGP:464 - 91 points.

That was a very fine 600th Col Ila, expect more CI very soon. Thanks.

More tasting notesCheck the index of Caol Ila we've tasted so far







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