The Caol Ilas we’ve seen over the last couple of years have shown some true greatness, especially those bottled at some 30 years old. The early eighties seem to have been some great years for the Port Askaig distillery.
This review is based on a sample I got from whisky buddy Ben in a trade. We send each other some great drams every now and then. I can’t find much info on this whisky, and I don’t think there is much to say, apart from what’s already in the title.
Oh, and it comes from a bourbon hogshead. Which to me is a good sign.
The smoke is really nice from the start. Old, full and rich. There’s oak, obviously, and some light vanilla notes. I also get lemon and a slight leathery hint. Very Port Ellen like, but with the addition of the Caol Ila oiliness, and I get some hints of banana.
The palate shows some pepper on top of the smoke, with vanilla and oak. Lemon candy (Napoleon) and leather. Shammy leather and that typical Caol Ila milky flavor. Quite full and rich, very typical.
The finish is quite smoky and sweet, with hints of crushed black pepper. Not overly long but very, very nice. Lightly sweet and smoky, but still very dessertlike.
In a way, this is a weird whisky. In the current climate, you expect there to be ‘something’ with each whisky, and that’s not the case with this one. This Caol Ila is just plain and simple Caol Ila, but to an awesome level.
That is to say, this is a cracker. An absolutely stunning dram that does everything right. This kind of dram makes me reassess my plan to not buy overly expensive whiskies anymore and stick to a more affordable category. While I know you can get really delicious drams at about € 80, you just don’t get this kind of quality in that bracket.
Oh, and in the bracket this is in you can get a wee drop of Port Ellen, but I prefer this one to many from that distillery. The lemon candy and shammy leather notes are here, but there is much more going on. And I have a weak spot for the engine oil and milk flavors of Caol Ila.
So, thanks a million, Ben, this was gorgeous!
Caol Ila 30, 1984-2014, 56.2%, Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection. Should cost just below € 200, but I think it’s sold out now.