Caol ila 18 Years


Distillery/Brand: Caol Ila
Region: Islay
ABV: 43%
Colour: Pale Straw

Nose: 23
Taste: 22
Finish: 22
Balance: 22

I consider Caol Ila the anonymous support system that keeps the whisky industry flourishing. Founded in 1846 the distillery changed many hands until, like most distilleries, it landed in the hands of drink giants Diageo.

Every single whisky drinker in the world, without fail, has had a Caol Ila pass through his lips thanks to Diageo using it as the main malt for it’s Johnnie Walker blended range. What’s a little sad is that 99% of them have no idea the distillery even exists.

They have three core expressions (12, 18 & 25) with a smattering of special releases. Generally quite tame they are one of the lighter Islay whiskies.

Nose: It’s quite a sweet nose with a vanilla cedar quality to it. Fresh ream of paper with a hint of lemony peat. Finally butterscotch on top of smoky cold cuts. Quite lovely actually.

Palate: Understated and restrained. It could be mistaken for being one dimensional but I don’t think it is. The lemony peppers work well with the apricot slices while the woody limestone gives your palate a nice coating.

Finish: The understated peat is back with a touch of spice.

I like this whisky. I think it goes about it’s business without becoming over bearing.

Rating: 89


Caol Ila 12 Years Old Unpeated


Distillery/Brand: Caol Ila
ABV: 57.6%
Region: Islay
Colour: Sunlight

Nose: 21
Taste: 22
Finish: 21
Balance: 21

I’m a sucker for anomalies and anything off the beaten path. So it was nice to get my hands on this un-peated Islay and give it a whirl.

The sweet and salty nose is like pouring honey in a bowl of tepid sea water accompanied by a whiff of wood shavings. I expected more from the nose but that was to be it.

The palate is quite a simple serving of lemon tart dusted with black pepper. And again that is it.

The slightly bitter finalé to this expression is, once again, not up to mark.

I expected more from this expression and did not get it. I don’t know whether this was a case of my high expectations not being met or it was just an average malt. In either case I was quite upset not to be over the moon.

Rating: 84

Caol Ila 12


Caol Ila



Young Sauternes

If you like the Islays then this is the quintessential dram for you.

The nose is a smoke-storm of burning peaty embers. It’s almost like running through a field of burning barley. Very strong yet nicely balanced aromas which, on a second visit, provide you with a touch of tincture and iodine. The third vist (Yes, the nose keeps going) reveals it’s sweeter side: burnt sugar on top of caramel pudding. One of the most glorious noses I’ve come across in recent times!

The palate is a tumble dry of all that the nose promised. The delivery is dry and clean (see how I weaved that in?). A very strong woody component mixed in with a drizzle of roasted nuts, tobacco, cinnamon, nutmeg and licorice ensures that this is one of the ultimate die-hard Islay fan malts.

Rating : 91