Dewar Rattray Caol Ila Tasting Notes

Posted: August 26, 2011 in Caol Ila, Scotch Whisky A-G

A.D Rattray Caol Ila 2006 (8 year old) 57.2%

Bourbon Cask: 303029/ Dist: 2006 Btl: 2015/ Tasted: Feb 2015

Intense, fishy and crisply peated with white fruit and hints of bog myrtle and menthol. With time it becomes quite oily with tarred rope, creosote, rock pools, citrus, barley and a light iodine note appearing.

Oily and full on the palate. Showing more toffee’d oak than the nose with briny-peat and quite sweet, violet tinged fruit and barley. A touch of bbq meat, tar and medicinal notes come through on the middle. Long and very salty with lingering iodine and medicinal notes.

A drop of water emphasises the oils and citrus but lessens the peat and fishiness. It also emphasises the fruit – banana and apricot and barley on the palate and gives it a lovely sweetness. The peat has become quite light and dusty and lingers beautifully.

Dewar Rattray Caol Ila 2000 (10 year old) 46% – Sample at cask strength 63.2%

Bourbon Cask 309530/ Dist: 2000 Btl: 2011/ Tasted: Feb 2011

Nose hair curlingly pungent, alcoholic, coastal and phenolic! Definitely in the more robust modern style of Caol Ila (like the distillery 12 year old). Butch and rubbery with hints of kipper and medicinal peat. With time some Ardbeg-esue burnt wood and earth appear. Stunning stuff!

The palate is intense and a pure sooty peat overload. Dusty peat briquettes and alcohol makes the eyes water! Damn that is alcoholic! Neat this is definitely one for the S&M freaks amongst you. After the alcohol has subsided it leaves a slightly minty citrus note but the combination of soot and salt coat the mouth and definitely dries it out!

With a drop of water (approximately what it will be like at 46%)

To be honest there is not much change to the nose well apart from the fact that the aromas are less alcohilc that is! Maybe it’s not quite as butch now and it allows the juicy citrus fruit to emerge from the peat. The palate is a lot softer but no less sooty! There’s absolutely no let up in the peat. This is a real peat monster! Superb length and like the nose maybe not quite as butch or as oily as the distillery 12 year old, but damn it’s awesome!

Dewar Rattray Caol Ila 1995 (13 year old) 60.4%

Bourbon Cask 10035/ Dist: 1995 Btl: 2009/ Tasted: July 2009

A wonderfully intense nose of coastal peat, iodine, fish, rubber sowesters along with a balancing light orange fruit note, spice and a touch of wood. A text book CI nose! Quiet an oily palate with gentle orange fruit, earth, peat, fish, wood tannins and no surprise alcohol! It has a lovely coastal middle with a lingering rubbery note.

A drop of water emphasises the oily, leafy character. It subdues the peat a tad but emphasises the salty, coastal astringency. Like the nose the palate becomes more oily and rounded. The orange fruit has a gorgeous purity and accented by a barley note. The palate has become fuller and rounded and the peat smoke now comes through with an intense youthfulness. Lovely peat soaked finish.

Dewar Rattray Caol Ila 1989 (15 year old) 56%

Bourbon Cask 742/ Dist: Jan 1991 Btl: Jan 2006/ Tasted: June 2006

A clean, classic, very fresh nose of garden fruits. Slightly oily yet crisp and light with light tar and light peat along with a developing minty, menthol and coastal note. The palate is clean and oily opening with the coal smoke followed by clean fruit and more coal. Good length and a pleasant degree of coastal fruitiness.

Water emphasises the minty garden freshness on the nose. It softens the palate, yet the smokiness remains intact. Not the most peatiest or the most complex of Caol Ila’s I’ve ever tasted but wonderfully charming nevertheless.

Dewar Rattray Caol Ila 1993 (18 year old) 56.7%

Sherry Cask 11145/ Dist: 1993 Btl: 2011/ Tasted: Oct 2011

A heavy, but clean nose of leafy sherry, dark coffee/ toffee/ chocolate and liquorice completely masking the slightly floral and coastal spirit. Only a touch of peat is discernable. A bit too heavy on the sherry for my liking.

The palate is very dry, slightly bitter and quite woody. The flavours mirror the nose – all being cask derived. Some coastal and peat notes try to emerge but they are submerged in the sherry. Quite a fresh finish – mainly down to the abv with a herbal/ mentholated finish.

With water there is a touch of struck match/ gun powder on the nose and it’s gone a bit flat to be honest. I’m struggling to pick out any particular characteristics now. The palate is very much the same. Flat and overall rather disappointing.

Dewar Rattray Caol Ila 1980 (30 year old) 58.8%

Bourbon cask 4679/ Dist: 1980 Btl: 2010/ Tasted: Nov 2010

A very herbal nose with hints of lettuce(?) and green garden vegetables all coated in a delightful slightly coastal honey. Gently phenolic with old rope, peat and fishy nuances. A lovely mature nose with honey to die for! Quite expansive for a Caol Ila. I could sniff this all day!

The palate opens with the herbal honey and a faint peat note, followed by the drying alcohol. I amazed that it’s this strength at 30, but seeing as this cask has only yielded 157 bottles it must have been stored in a fairly warm environment and with the resulting evaporation it has definitely concentrated the flavours. I seriously can’t believe that I’m going to have to add water to something this age. Lovely length with a coal dust and fishy finish.

Water ramps up the herbal aromas and the fruit is deep and sweet and gorgeous, however there is still a fresh edge to the fruit along with some manure and now detectable bourbon oak. I don’t think I have ever come across a Caol Ila that is so honeyed! The palate is sweeter and again extremely fruity with some gorgeous dusty spice, faint smoke and crystallised citrus fruit. Amazingly long with a long, crisp, grassy, spearmint fresh finish. This cask has aged majestically!

Dewar Rattray Caol Ila 1982 (30 year old) 54%

Bourbon Cask 1465/ Dist: 1982 Btl: 2013/ Tasted: Oct 2013

A very oily nose, fishy as well! With flecks of herbal-peat, salt, oily citrus and oily barley along with hints of juniper and white liquorice. Wonderfully mellow with developing manurey, coffee notes. With time the nose begins to flesh out, showing dense apricot, parma violets and some herbal tinged smoke. Beautifully mature and complex with some light, sawdusty oak in the background.

The palate opens with a touch of pine resin, herbs, seaweed and fleshy, mature apricot. Quite drying on the middle with brine, milk chocolate, light coffee and smoky, yet sweet peat. Really fleshing out well as the oils develop but the alcohol and fresh maritime notes balance. Lovely, lightly woody finish with hints of manure, sweet parma violets and salt, in fact the after-taste is really salty! Complex and evocative and although the finish is quite dry there is just enough sweetness to balance.


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