Caol Ila 15, 2007-2022, PX Sherry Butt Finish, 54.6% – Douglas Laing’s Old Particular

This bottling, from the Dutch Dram Masters series, is a brand new one. It just came out a few days ago and somehow it grabbed my attention, unlike a lot of Islay whiskies nowadays. Pretty labelling helps, but other than that I can’t really say why it has that ‘je ne sais quoi’.

Image from De Monnik, the importer in NL for Old Particular

Interestingly, Caol Ila is the one distillery that really kick started my love affair with whisky. Of course, we had the obligatory Glenfiddich 12 and a miniature of Oban, Talisker and Glenlivet, but the first ‘big’ whisky I bought was a bottle of Caol Ila 18.

So, even though bottles have become few and far between over the last couple of years (something about Islay whisky, it’s popularity and accompanying price tag), I always hope one of these bottles will take me back to those early years, a little under 20 years ago.

Let’s see how nostalgic we can get with this one!

Image from Whiskybase

The typical milky, diesely scent of Caol Ila. Smoky, with engine grease and almond milk. Even though it’s a dark whisky, the sherry plays second fiddle. A whiff of mint among some date paste. Salty, tarry harbor scents too.

Not too sharp an arrival with just a bit of a peppery bite. Here there’s more dry sherry, with almonds and cherry stones. Dates, tar and a sharp spiciness.

A gentle finish with the spiciness of black pepper instead of the heat of chilies. A bitter sherry note, almonds, spices, quite long and smoky.

Yes, yes, yes! It has those classical Caol Ila notes of engine grease and thick cream. But also, it’s not one of those massively barbecue-y drams that sometimes are just too sherry-cask-driven. I think the fact that this is a finished whisky instead of having matured for the full 15 years is very good.

So, man, I love this dram. And yes, there might be a point in its score for nostalgic reasons, but it just does everything well. There’s definitely smoke, but it’s not all there is. There’s definitely sherry but there’s also room for the distillery character. There’s coastal notes and hints of wood and a bit of straw. It just works.

On top of all that, it seems that this cask was handled with some restraint. And that’s not a common thing nowadays. I think that that is the most awesome thing about it. It’s layered, like a parfait, or an onion.



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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