Caol Ila Distillery Bottlings Tasting Notes

Posted: August 17, 2011 in Caol Ila

Caol Ila Moch 43%

Tasted: June 2012

From the nose I would guess that this consists proximately of spirit that is less than 10 years of age, given the abundance of youthful cereal notes. It does have some sweet barley and a sort of under-ripe fruit character. There is plenty of brine and earthy, fishy peat, citrus and a slight medicinal note.

The palate, like the nose displays plenty of youthful cereal, but less coastal intensity than the nose would indicate. Slightly sweet barley is followed by some botanical/ herbal spirit notes. Pleasant length, if a tad short with some light peat, herbal mocha and a smidge of bitter oak on the finish.

Caol Ila 10 year old ‘’2009 Unpeated’ 65.8%

Btl: 2009/ Tasted: Jan 2012

A very fresh and briny nose. The lack of peat allows hints of citrus, lime and white fruit to show. Seriously coastal with plenty of barley along with a touch of tarry rope and hessian. It has a slight ‘triple distilled’ marc like character, which I assume is from the relatively high abv. Deliciously juicy with even a touch of fleshy banana liberally sprinkled with demerara sugar!

The palate is full, although not overly oily with plenty of slightly honeyed barley along with a touch of citrus and fish. The high level of alcohol makes the mouth water and masks any further development but the juicy, citrus fruit hangs on in there.

With water the nose is still extremely briny, but now the oak puts in an appearance with hints of light toffee and coffee. There’s even a faint floral note now. Even more juicy on the palate and quite sweet now. Even the fishy notes seem sugar coated! Like on the nose the oak is more noticeable now. Very long and seriously bracing finish which leaves the mouth quite dry and salt encrusted.

Caol Ila ‘Unpeated’ 12 year old 64%

First Fill Bourbon/ Dist: 1999 Btl: 2011/ Tasted: Nov 2012

A very phenolic nose of iodine, tar and coastal notes.  With apricot, light tangerine and barley. Oh and did I mention the salt!?! With time the oak puts in an appearance with gobs of clotted cream, white chocolate and mocha. Not as fresh as the previous 10 year old release as the oak has more of a grip, but still exceptional good and very interesting.

Full and fleshy on the palate with apricot and briny rook pools. Huge amounts of alcohol assail the palate, which is not surprising given the abv. Gently smoked with hints of kippers but good grief that alcohol is seriously intense! Some lightly sugared moments happen on the finish and although the intensity of the alcohol is diminishing there are some gritty tannins.

With a drop of water the oak beats a retreat and the nose becomes slightly fresher with some hints of red liquorice. Still quite coastal and gently smoked.  The palate has become oilier and sweeter now the rampaging alcohol has been tamed. Some sugar coated barley emerges now and although the oak is still present it has become softer and creamier. A lot longer now with a lovely salt-sugar balance. Light iodine and smoke drifts in on the finish along with some hints of parma violets and just a light bittering from the oak. Excellent stuff!

Caol Ila ‘Unpeated’ 1998 (15 year old) 60.39%

Fist Fill Bourbon/ Tasted: Apr 2016

The nose is a little tight to begin with but opens with some off-sweet barley, citrus, apricot and white fruit. Slightly oily with hints of coffee. Lovely depth the developing vanilla oak and a touch of sea spray.

The palate is soft and vanilla’d with hints of white fruit, salt. A touch of coffee comes through on the middle but the alcohol masks. Lightly salty finish.

With water the nose becomes thicker and more honeyed with the oak taking on a lightly toasted demeanour. Still wonderfully elegant. The palate is sweeter with crunchy sugar coated barley and subtle honey. Pleasantly balanced with the salt and alcohol freshening the middle. Mouth-filling and long with warm vanilla, chocolaty spice, herbs and a dry, coffee tannin after-taste.


Caol Ila 12 year old 43% 

Tasted: Nov 2000

Quite a soft nose of juniper, garden mint, peat and burnt grass. Lightly oily with lots of complex developing peaty flavours. Lovely complexity it becomes more spicy with vanilla, nutmeg, white mustard noticeable in the finish.

Caol Ila 12 year old 43%

Tasted: Nov 2010

Quite full and oily aromas with a lovely balance between the phenolic peat, fat apricot, slightly sweet orange and white fruits, salinity and oak. Definitely fatter and broader since I last nosed it (years ago!) with hints of juniper, bog myrtle, fish oils and some lovely sugar coated slightly gristy barley.

The palate opens with the oils before gently smoky, phenolic peat arrives with a touch of TCP on the middle. Like the nose the palate is broader than it used to be, but is still seriously coastal, with some lovely malty moments in the finish before the salt returns leaving a faint impression of burnt embers.

Caol Ila 1995 (12 year old) Distillers Edition 43%

Moscatel Finish/ Dist: 1995 Btl: 2007/ Tasted: Dec 2008

The initial aromas are all coffee-caramel, followed by leafy bog myrtle peat, a touch of peat smoke and a crisp salinity, which cuts through the sweetness, never allowing the finish to get out of control and thus adding a lovely silky sheen.

On the palate the distillery character show’s its head first with the brusque coastal and leafy peat flavours leading. The grape notes develop on the middle with hints of coffee-caramel. Like the nose the sweetness is well balanced and never gets out of hand. Lovely length with a sooty, coal dust finish.

Caol Ila 2001 (12 year old) Distillers Edition 43%

C: 9-473/ Dist: 2001 Btl: 2013/ Tasted: May 2017

Heavy, sweet and grapey aromas with hints of herbal/ medicinal peat, band-aid, iodine and subtle coastal notes. With time there’s a touch of grilled nuts, and sweet tinged peat smoke. Although it’s very winey the balance isn’t too bad.

The palate opens with the sweet, grapey Moscatel notes with a light honey and coffee note. The peat is pretty much obscured by the finishing cask, although a smidgen of menthol and iodine comes through. Slightly dusty peat finish with the grapey sweetness lingering along with a touch of wood spice and salt.

Caol Ila 1998 (13 year old) ‘Distillers Edition’ 43%

Bourbon – Moscatel/ Dist: 1998 Btl: 2011/ Tasted: June 2012

The astringent coastal and fishy notes put in an appearance first, followed by the slightly sugar coated apricot and the lightly herbal Moscatel cask. The finish is not too obtrusive and sits pliantly in the background as the light but medicinal peat, bog myrtle and crisp, white fruit aromas rise from the glass.

The palate doesn’t quite display the balance that the nose does. The dense, Moscatel, gapey fruit shows first. Some briny and fishy notes attempt to penetrate as does some medicinal/ bog myrtle ones, but it’s all skewed towards the finishing cask. Finally it does give way on the finish and some light, earthy peat and herbal notes now appear, exiting with a salty flourish.

Caol Ila 18 year old 43%

Tasted: Mar 2001

Very fragrant with menthol, vegetal and nutty vanilla pod aromas. Much fuller bodied and more assertively expressive, sweeter with peat, spring greens, crushed almonds, cedar and a leafy sweetness. Powerful and long.

Caol Ila 18 year old 43%

Tasted: Aug 2011

A very leafy opening – bog myrtle and mint followed by briny peat. Quite phenolic but just delicately peated with a serious weight of rich, oily, rubbery fruit along with a brief, stinky, manure note. A touch of citrus just about balances the oiliness.

On the palate it is full and weighty. Very oily and herbal. It’s a veritable sweet mouthful of butch, malty almost savoury fruit. Some gentle sooty peat wafts in on the middle and tries it’s best to force away through the oils, but that oily, rubbery character hangs on in there! Just like the nose a vein of briny citrus accented by shellfish notes runs through it and balances it – just! Good length with a long, sooty finish.

Caol Ila 1983 (30 year old) ‘2014 Special Release’ 55.1%

Refill American oak and European oak.

Bottle No: 2049/ Dist: 1983 Btl: 2014/ Tasted: Dec 2015

A dusty and oily nose. Plenty of fish oils abound with hints of violets, earth, manure and manuery-peat. Beautifully deep and mature. It unfolds to show oxidised prune, olives, apricot, salt, green nuts, dried herbs, leather and old wood notes. Damn that’s a fine nose!

The palate is mature and mellow with malt, soft tannin, green nuts, dried herbs and hints of vanilla, violets and fish oils. The alcohol gives it a serious mouth-watering intensity but the oils balance and allow the earthy peat, tar and smoke to come through. Quite a drying, tannic finish with lingering salt, tar, malt and smoked kippers. A truly stunning old Coal Ila.


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