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

June 29, 2020


The Caol Ila Works

Caol Ilas keep pouring in, which is just great. Quite possibly the most consistent, and the most elegant peater from Islay despite its pretty industrial setting. That’s what beginners usually learn during their first years, with Scotch whisky, ‘small’ and ‘beautiful’ are notions that are not linked together. Neither are ‘big’ and ‘beautiful’ by the way.

Caol Ila 9 yo (46%, James Eadie Small Batch, bourbon hogshead, 2020)

Caol Ila 9 yo (46%, James Eadie Small Batch, bourbon hogshead, 2020) Four stars
A newer batch of James Eadie’s young Caol Ilas. We know this will be good. Colour: white wine. Nose: smoky grist, soot and fumes, then limoncello, kippers and graphite oil. Forgot to mention oysters. Immaculate and irresistible computer-made peated whisky. Isn’t this real AI-made whisky? Mouth: extremely ashy, tarry and smoky. Many keep telling us or writing that Caol Ila is a ‘light peater’ but that’s pure claptrap if you ask me. Finish: long, with citrus again at the helm, which is always cool in any finish. Grass in the aftertaste. Comments: all very good, at a price that’s hard to resist (last time I checked).
SGP:457 - 87 points.

Caol Ila 6 yo 2013/2019 (59%, Dràm Mor, 312 bottles)

Caol Ila 6 yo 2013/2019 (59%, Dràm Mor, 312 bottles) Four stars and a half
It’s hard not to write ‘Dram More’ in this context. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: it’s still a little mew-make-y, but on the other hand we’re also a bit in mezcal territories, or there, nearing a high-brow margarita. Lovely fresh wholegrain bread, lemon, chalk   and seawater. With water: we’re now in the still house, firing on all cylin.. I mean, all big fat stills. Mouth (neat): exceptional, best quality/age ratio in the spirit world. Smoked lemons and fish, tar, cigar ashes, and a handful of winkles cooked in white wine. Yep. With water: a drop of williams pear eau-de-vie, then lemon sherbet, rapeseed oil, ashes and bone dry sauvignon blanc. Finish: long and grassier. Awesome lemony sweetness in the aftertaste. Comments: the very definition of purity. You know what, this would go very well with caviar.
SGP:456 - 88 points.

We’re too fast, really, but what can we do?…

Cl13 (54.6%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, refill butts)

Cl13 (54.6%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, refill butts) Four stars
Cl12 had been excellent. This one’s from a combination of hogsheads and sherry butts from the 2010 and 2011 vintages, so actually 9 years old. Colour: white wine. Nose: this a widely different style, with a little more vanilla, brioche and raisin rolls, while the smoke’s rather gentler and the coastal side slightly toned down. Rather closer to the OBs, would I say. Hints of Brussels sprouts, that’s funny. With water: oh raw wool and wet dogs! (We’re really sorry, dogs!) Mouth (neat): oh well it’s excellent. Perfect tense citrusy, peppery and ashy/smoky arrival, then green pepper and some sweetness, perhaps even sugarcane syrup. With water: feel older than 9. The oak’s a little more obvious, there’s some green tea, iodine, ashes for sure, a tny touch of green banana… Finish: rather long, ashier, a little drying. Cinnamon powder. Comments: awesome young Caol Ila, yet again. Were I twenty now, I’d buy all these young CIs at high strength and cellar them all for thirty years. And call my insurance agent.
SGP:556 - 87 points.

Since we’re in London at Elixir’s…

Caol Ila 10 yo 2009/2020 (48%, Elixir Distillers, Reserve Casks, Parcel No.2, hogsheads)

Caol Ila 10 yo 2009/2020 (48%, Elixir Distillers, Reserve Casks, Parcel No.2, hogsheads) Four stars
That’s what’s cool with all these good people, they reserve some casks and then sell them off. I suppose we ought to thank them, I for one wouldn’t part with my own personal reserve. But I’m no Londoner. Colour: Nose: strawberry yoghourt, remember that’s the smell you sometimes get when hiking aimlessly around Port Ellen Maltings. Then seaweed, samphires, fresh cut cucumber (yep), lemony smoke, rhubarb and oysters. It’s just unquestionable, anyone not liking this may switch to Bailey’s. Mouth: no, this is too dangerous. Big smoke, ashes, lemons and rhubarb (which is very near fresh strawberries, as you know.) Goes down too well, let me call my friends at Extinction Rebellion. Finish: rather long, with a wonderful bitterish ground. Loads of ashes. Comments: goes down too well indeed, they should add a warning to the label.
SGP:567 - 87 points.

Oh well, since we’re still at Elixir’s…

Caol Ila 9 yo 2009/2019 (59.5%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #318285, 231 bottles)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2009/2019 (59.5%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #318285, 231 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: the very high ethanol rather blocks it I would say. Cocoa powder and oiled cardboard or something? Clearly some olive brine too, which is a good sign... With water: there, sheep’s wool, damp plaster and chalk, sourdough, porridge, fresh paint, carbolineum… Mouth (neat): very sweet, almost all on wine gums and marshmallows. Lemon drops. This cannot be… With water: indeed it was a false impression, this is a classic smoky and ashy Caol Ila, perhaps a notch sweeter than usual indeed (sherry hogshead?) but otherwise peppery and zesty. Finish: long, certainly a little bonbony, with a little vanilla beneath the grassier smoke. Comments: I tend to like them a little more ‘vertical’ but this sure is a great dram. It’s just a tad more ‘civilised’. It’s London, baby.
SGP:545 - 85 points.

Good, I’d wager we’ll do a second CI session right tomorrow…

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







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