Caol Ila 1990, 28yo, 48% – The Whisky Nerds

I always get a little excited when a new Whisky Nerds bottling is announced. So far, all they’ve bottled is about the best you can spend you booze-allocated-money on. The Lagavulin was a bit of an exception, since it was a more-than-excellent whisky, except it was priced waaaaay out of my league.

A shame that it was released at the same time as their Springbank, since that one sold out instantly and I wanted a bottle of it. And now there’s this Caol Ila. I’ve had a wee sip of it during a whisky tasting at De Whiskykoning last month.

So, now I sit here with a sample of it poured, with a nice tune in the background (Courtney Marie Andrews’ Tiny Desk Concert). Trying to write proper tasting notes, that do this whisky justice.


Image from Whiskybase

I’ve had it in front of me while writing the introduction above, and there’s quite a lot of ashy smoke, with a fruity sweetness coming from the glass. Very promising. Tropical yellow fruit and little to no bite on the nose. I get pineapple, apple, all rather crisp. A hint of oak, with a very slight salinity. The smoke gets a bit of an engine grease scent, which I like in Caol Ila.

The palate is quite gentle, but has more oak than the nose. Still not a lot though. Mostly fruity with a smoky scent. Like eating pineapple with the barbecue dying out. A hint of grill-grease. A tad sweet, a tad dry, very gentle and no flavors overpowering anything else. A very well balanced palate. Apple, maybe some almond slices. Quite coastal too, which adds a bit of depth.

The finish veers towards the smoke a little bit more. It’s slightly drier than I expected with oak, and maybe some nutmeg. A hint of apple, and something more sweet that I can’t put a name to.

This is a gentle giant. There are no big flavors, but the balance is stellar. It has a very old fashioned style with the retained smoke and gentle fruity flavors. Nowadays, most Islay whiskies go big on the smoke and this is actually a lot nicer.

I absolutely love the whisky, and when I heard Bram and Floris were bottling a Caol Ila I knew I was in for something good. I know they love whiskies like this, and luckily I do too. Stellar stuff.

Now the elephant in the room. It’s been addressed in the other reviews of this bottle I’ve seen too (here and here). I’ve seen older Caol Ila’s bottled by Cadenhead’s for about € 200 for years. This one is quite a bit younger than those, and significantly more expensive. Clocking in at € 550 I find this a surprisingly expensive whisky for The Whisky Nerds. Let’s hope they tone the price tags down on future bottlings a bit…

Not entirely surprising, this one is still rather easy to get. Find sellers here.


Caol Ila 1990-2019, 28 years old, Refill Oloroso cask 13129, 48%, The Whisky Nerds.

Thanks to Bram and Floris for supplying a sample.


About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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4 Responses to Caol Ila 1990, 28yo, 48% – The Whisky Nerds

  1. Pingback: Secret Speyside 1994-2020, 26yo, 48.1% – WhiskyNerds | Malt Fascination

  2. Pingback: Allt-a-Bhainne 23yo, 1997-2020, Barrel 102589, 52.4% – WhiskyNerds | Malt Fascination

  3. Pingback: Old Rhosdhu 29, 1990-2020, Refill Hogshead 416, 48.2% – WhiskyNerds | Malt Fascination

  4. Pingback: Caol Ila 10, 2011-2022, Sherry Hogshead 5846, 57.5% – WhiskyNerds | Malt Fascination

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