It’s been a while again, but this one came from my own collection. Came, past tense, since I finished the bottle over the weekend. That also means that the review came from the tail end of the bottle, which makes a difference over a freshly opened one.
Early 80s Caol Ila is pretty awesome in general. They are usually a tad older by now with the first digit often being a 3, instead of a 2, but this one sat around for a while. Even the bottler is no longer around with Bladnoch’s bottling works going to WhiskyBroker.co.uk a couple of years ago. A smart move since Blanoch’s closure a little while ago!
Light smoke at first with a hint of vanilla. White pepper and that typical Caol Ila milky thing. Oak, pretty sharp but apart from the sharpness is quite smooth. Heather, slightly spicy with apple. It screams ‘Islay’, and the light saltiness and caramel flavors really help too.
The palate is very heathery with quite some smoke, oak and pepper. Rather hot again and milky, but it doesn’t have that Caol Ila oily feel. Again, apple, but also pear skin and some warm vanilla sauce.
The finish is very typical of Caol Ila, with oak and heather and smoke. Some orchard fruits again too, so mostly apples and pears.
When I first opened this bottle I was thrilled by having a 25 year old Caol Ila at a bargain (£ 50 I believe). Upon drinking it I was a little bit let down by it not being such a good one. A couple of years in a half drunk bottle has really helped this whisky show its potential. It has become much more typical of early 80s Caol Ila with comparable flavors to older and much more expensive bottlings.
So, while I wasn’t a big fan at first, the last 20cl of the bottle went really fast since it became absolutely gorgeous. I loved the last drops, and I loved finishing this last Saturday with one of my best friends. And it’s another one down to get to 40 open bottles by the end of the year.
The Bladnoch Forum occasionally had such gems, but most of what came from there was rather mediocre. I remember a bottle-share of which I can barely remember the individual whisky’s. This one is terrific, but apparently you have to give it time. I think I like this one even better than their 30 year old I have, that was bottled a few years later.
Caol Ila 25, 12/10/1983 – 18/10/2008, cask 4807, 53.2%, Bladnoch Forum