Caol Ila

Distillery Bottlings

Posted 03 October 2019

This month’s obligatory 53 and its refill ex-bourbon all the way – 10 years in a hoggie.

View on SMWS


Posted 11 January 2019

It’s easy to forget how much of a bubble the whisky world can be. I spend a good part of my life enthusing and educating about whisky in one way or another – but, last weekend, I was reminded that this is almost always exclusively an activity that I undertake with fellow enthusiasts of one form or another – fans, fanatics, or at least the pre-interested. Stepping outside this bubble, you realise that the vast majority of people have little understanding of whisky, but nevertheless come with in-built preconceptions – some of which can be hard to break down.


Posted 26 February 2018

Whilst Diageo’s annual Special Releases usually require saving a few coppers, or in some cases taking out a second mortgage, there are always two bottles each year that are priced much more affordably. All of the Special Release come at cask strength, so the annual Lagavulin 12 year old is not just a wee bit younger than the 16, or a wee bit older than the 8, there’s some oomph going on under the hood. Likewise, each year we get something a little bit unusual from Caol Ila – unpeated style.


Posted 30 October 2018

Peat, whilst synonymous with certain whiskies is far from homogenous. When burned, peat from different locales not only produces different combustion products, but it also does so in varying concentrations. Smoke from Islay is richer in phenols, guaiacol, syringol. Whereas peat from Orkney produces a much higher proportion of sugar-derived carbohydrates. Likewise, even from a single location the depth of the cut peat will affect its eventual flavour – top soils contain more vegetal matter and will therefore be stronger than deeper extracted peat. Similarly, there’s the whisky-making process itself – that too will affect the intensity of the smoky taste of a whisky.


Independent Bottlings

Claxtons


Posted 11 February 2019

Peat smoke expresses itself quite differently depending on the length of maturation – fiery and bombastic with youth – relaxed and refined with age. With younger spirit it can sometimes hide a multitude of sins, from undone, feinty spirit to poor cask integration. Particularly for whiskies where intense peat is not part of their DNA, there are times it can feel more like a sticking plaster. Then, there are other times, where the inherent character of the spirit naturally suits younger, intense peating. Caol Ila is one such whisky. Indeed, to my mind, one of the strengths of this distillate is in how well composed it appears at virtually any age.


Elixir Distillers


Posted 08 March 2019

Whilst the secondary whisky market has become something of a hot mess that regularly seems to defy all sense and logic, it’s the retail world that directly affects most enthusiasts. The two, alongside the producers themselves are now part of an inherently connected ecosystem -  the fates of one directly impacting on another. Make no mistake, some folks are raking in the £s hand over fist – but, it’s wrong to just blame ‘dirty flippers’ for the currently overheated market – everything is associated and price escalation is occurring throughout the supply chain.


Gordon & MacPhail


Posted 08 August 2018

This Gordon and MacPhail Caol Ila is not only exceptionally high in strength, it’s also composed of a two sets of casks that were distilled 5 months apart. Five casks (5347 to 5351) distilled on the 4th May 1978 were combined with twelve casks (11553 to 11563) distilled on the 19th October 1978. The bottling was produced in February of 1992 at a crackingly high ABV of 63.7% - when G&M indicate ‘cask strength’, they mean it.


Posted 08 August 2018

This Caol Ila is a little bit mysterious – I cannot find any information on a 1978 Spirit of Scotland release whatsoever. My sample is simply labelled as ‘bottled in the 90s’ – looking at other Caol Ila Spirit of Scotland releases (including the 1981 – of which I’ve repurposed a bottle photo seeing as I can’t find anything of the 78s existence), they seem to vary in age. Recent bottlings have been between 7 and 12 years of age, however bottlings produced around the turn of the millennium are older at between 15 and 17 years. It’s therefore not too much of a stretch to posit that this 1978 is likely to have been bottled around 1993-1995 and is therefore likewise between 15 and 17 years old.


Posted 21 August 2019

Whisky is frequently described as being a versatile spirit – often this is simply referring to its incredibly broad range of aromas of flavours, or its application across a wide variety of cocktail styles. But, the adaptability of whisky can also be looked at from the perspective of its production and maturation. Whilst commonalities can be drawn across the methods used to produce whisky – the end results are far from the same. Some spirits work better younger, some older. Some spirits shine brighter in particular cask types, and some offer their strongest personality when delivered with the addition of peat. At the same time, there are whiskies whose inherent characteristics operate equally as capably under a wide variety of conditions. Caol Ila is to my mind one such whisky.


Scotch Malt Whisky Society


Posted 03 January 2019

Another month, another Caol Ila – but, this one comes from the younger end of the spectrum after a mere 6 years in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead. Peated Profile.


Posted 28 February 2019

I don’t remember the last outturn to *not* feature Caol Ila – but no complaints from me, they’re usually consistently sound. Refill ex-bourbon hogshead for this 6 year old youngster. View on SMWS


Posted 09 November 2017

A youthful Caol Ila that was distilled on 1st June 2010 and spent its entire 7 years within a refill ex-Bourbon hogshead. One of 280 bottles. Peated flavour profile.


Posted 05 January 2018

Over to Islay for some young Caol Ila. Distilled in June of 2010, this whisky has matured for 7 years in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead. Peated profile.


Posted 29 November 2018

The near obligatory 53 this month comes from September of 2008. It has spent 9 years in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead. Peated profile.


Posted 04 July 2019

Another month, another Caol Ila – but, what’s not to like about that?! This one comes from a refill ex-bourbon hogshead after 9 years of maturation. View on SMWS


Posted 01 August 2019

The monthly #53 -  9 years in refill ex-bourbon. Simples.

View on SMWS


Posted 04 October 2018

Another appearance for Caol Ila. Matured since September 2007 in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead. Peated profile.


Posted 06 June 2019

Another month, another Caol Ila – though peat fans will be disappointed to note that it’s this outturn’s sole green labelled expression. A 10 year old matured in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead.

View on SMWS


Posted 01 June 2018

Over to Islay for an 11 year old Caol Ila distilled back in July of 2006. No messing around – this has been matured in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead. Lightly Peated profile.


Posted 02 August 2018

A tough choice of colour-coding for this Caol Ila. Whilst it is undeniably coastal, it’s also still quite peaty. So blue or green? SMWS have chosen blue this time around, for a 9 year old matured in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead.


Posted 06 September 2018

Young Caol Ila is regularly seen on the monthly outturns – but not usually in the Heavily Peated flavour profile. This one is an 11 year old matured in a refill ex-bourbon barrel.


Posted 08 November 2018

There’s been a lot of SMWS 53s this year – but they’ve all been pretty solid. Standard stuff with this one – a refill ex-bourbon hogshead. Peated profile.


That Boutique-y Whisky Company


Posted 21 December 2017

In to the final stretch of the Boutique-y 2017 Advent calendar and today we have one of the more literal bottle labels – coal mining and garlic it seems! Its an NAS from Islay bottled at 56.9% and was part of a release of 1,260 bottles. Time for some smoke…


Posted 03 December 2017

Door No.2 reveals a youthful 6 year old Caol Ila. Bottled at 52.2% and deceptively pale in colour.


Whisky Exchange


Posted 25 September 2019

The youngest bottling from this year’s series of London Whisky Show exclusives comes in the form of a sherry matured 9 year old Caol Ila. But it’s potentially not just any sherry matured 9 year old Caol Ila. When the Whisky Exchange team were trawling through a sea of stacked casks, they noticed one which was stencilled with the name ‘Gonzalez & Byass’ – a name which sherry producer Gonzalez Byass (dropping the ‘&’) ceased trading under over a 100 years ago. Does this mean that the sherry cask is over 100 years old – well maybe, maybe not (things are filled and refilled for periods of time – some of which can be quite lengthy). But it’s certainly exceedingly old by modern standards and not a 'seasoned' cask which most distilleries now extensively utilise.


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