Caol Ila

Distillery Bottlings

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


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.


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 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 04 October 2018

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

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.



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