Caol Ila

Review: Caol Ila 2006 Aged 12 Years (Signatory Vintage Cask Strength) by Jason Hambrey

Caol Ila Signatory Vintage 2006 (2).jpg
ABV
56.7%
Aging
12 years; refill hogshead
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Caol Ila (Port Askaig, Scotland)

Another Signatory Caol Ila, this time a cask strength 12 year old matured in a hogshead - 246 bottles produced.


Review (2020)

  • Batch: Cask 311566

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

Intense marine notes, dried fruit notes, light sherry notes (oxidized wine), smoking leaves, decomposing vegetation, cowlicks, rockpools, preserved lemon, peach jam, blanched almonds, and even some thyme. With time, dried fruit, in growing proportion. The palate is smoky, earthy, and with some more mineral notes, molasses, and dark chocolate. Some macadamia nuts, darkly roasted almonds, and black pepper, too. And – a bit of intense dried floral notes (lavender). The finish is rich, earthy, and peaty – with the mineral character coming through still and a bit of oxidized wine. It has an enduring dryness to it.  Excellent stuff, it really is.
Takes water very well.


Very Highly Recommended (19% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).
Value:
Low, based on $153.


Review: Caol Ila 9 Year Old 2009 Islay Single Malt (Signatory) by Jason Hambrey

Caol Ila Signatory 2009 2.jpg
ABV
43%
Aging
9 years; refill hogsheads
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Caol Ila (Port Askaig, Scotland)

This whisky is nearly clear, which I love because it means there hasn’t been too much cask influence and I get to really taste the distillery character. Looking forward to this!


Review (2020)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

The colour on this is almost clear – like the lightest of white wines. It’s a hogshead, but must be well used….
Great nose. Dense smoke, toffee, cinnamon, lemon, and smoke are so nicely balanced. The smoke is so prevalent, front and centre…just awesome. We also have some nice farmy and medicinal characteristics – no surprise there. And some younger notes, and unique ones, like pancake batter and freshly blanched broccoli, nearly undercooked. The palate is smoky, slightly citrusy, with more toffee, vanilla, woodsmoke, mulberries, white pepper, and blueberry bushes. Nice and ashy. The finish is lightly smoky, with some pickled lemon, malty notes, clove, cardboard, and maltesers.


Caol Ila distillate, relatively pure. Nicely done!

Highly Recommended (50% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).
Value:
Average, based on $110.


Review: Elements of Islay CI12 Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Elements of Islay CI12.jpg
ABV
57.5%
Aging
7 years; refill sherry butts
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Caol Ila (Port Askaig, Scotland)

The Elements of Islay independent bottler has continued to produce impressive whiskies, and their website, islay.com, is one of my favourite whisky producer websites with good descriptions of the distilleries and flavor profiles coming from the island. Although this doesn’t explicitly say “Caol Ila” on the bottle, that is where it is from…


Review (2020)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

The spirit is raw, but very engaging – smoke, hospital aromas, custard, peat, pine, nut oils (in a very nice way), agave, white pepper, royal gala apples, lemon peel, and clove. The palate is clean, oily, spicy, and smoky. The intensity of the peat is on the lighter end, it’s more the smoke here along with some of the medicinal qualities. Some nice herbal notes, too – reminding me of many herbal liquers. And well balanced, with light sweetness and vanilla playing a nice part. Peach jam, once again. The finish has some lemon peel, smoke, decomposing vegetation, and white pepper.


Really nice at cask strength. With water, it opens up, but its youth comes to the fore.


Highly Recommended (50% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).
Value: Low, based on $140/750 mls.


Review: Caol Ila 12 Years Old Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Caol Ila 12.jpg
ABV
43%
Aging
12 years
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Caol Ila (Port Askaig, Scotland)

Caol Ila is perhaps best known not as a single malt, but as the heart of the smoky component in Johnnie Walker blends. It is located on the northeast part of Islay, far away from the peat powerhouses of Laphroaig, Lagavulin, and Ardbeg. Most of its production goes to Johnnie Walker, with limited amounts being released as a single malt. It does well for Johnnie Walker, and it does well for single malts - I really like Caol Ila.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L4188 CM000 03541633

  • Bottling Date: 2013

We have some balancing goodness here - tangy caramelised lemon (like one you’d pull out of a batch of roasted vegetables or a chicken), burning leaves, peat, spices, oak, and vanilla - all well balanced. Still - fruity and candy-like underneath. On that palate, a bit sweet - vanilla, rockpools, with some lingering smoke in the quality of burning leaves. Some creaminess too, with a light touch of bourbon notes. A little flatter on the palate than the nose. Malt grows and comes on more on the end, and the finish shows the grain so well. As I tasted and compared this to other whiskies the score kept going up – the nose is terrific particularly.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. It’s hard to find many good peated Scotch whiskies under 100$, and this is one of the few. However, it’s still not cheap.


Review (2020)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L9297CM009 00003427

  • Bottling Date: 2019

The smoke here is just so nice, and it has a nice mineral edge – something that I particularly like. I find it often in my favourite Ardbegs…but here as well. Also, white pepper, black pepper, stewed peaches (with skins), vanilla, woodsmoke, olive oil, light medicinal characteristics, and a light farmy character which is very nice.

Cacao on the palate, along with some bay leaves, smoke, vanilla, anise seeds, fresh fennel (the anise and fennel are nods – it isn’t overly licorice-laden). It has a nice rich, almost umami-like character.

The finish has some pickled lemons, wood smoke, crab apple, burning leaves, and some clove. Slightly acidic on the finish, and a bit drying. Some really nice wisps of wood smoke.

A classic Scotch whisky, it really is.

Highly Recommended (50% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average at $85. However, pretty good value for a peater.


Review: Caol Ila 18 Years Old Unpeated Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky (Special Release 2017) by Jason Hambrey

Caol+Ila+18+2.jpg
ABV
59.8%
Aging
18 years; Refill American Oak
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Caol Ila (Port Askaig, Scotland)

An 18 year old Caol Ila, unpeated - different from their typical releases. I’ve liked these in the past - I always like trying these.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: Special Release 2017

  • Bottling Code: l7079cm000 51690150

  • Bottling Date: 2017

The nose is awesome - rich marine malt, apple, sea salt, oak, grass, hay, spices, pineapple, and light vanilla.  Great nose. The taste has loads of hay, sweet light oak, mixed orchard fruit, clove, and a touch of chilli-type spice. A touch of tannic textre. Some rich leather-like aged notes too.  The finish is light, with oak, orchard fruit, toffee, and green wood.  Barley comes in nice at the end. It’s very rich! A nice deep malt.

It’s quite nice with water – it really shows off the depth of caol ila’s malt, even without the peat.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low. A pretty expensive bottle of whisky.