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Caol Ila 12 Year Old

Rain Day Whisky

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@whiskyjourneyReview by @whiskyjourney

17th May 2013


Caol Ila 12 Year Old
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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As I sit here, the rain outside my home is pounding.

Pounding the roof, pounding the windows, just banging like a banished child that wants to be let in to their home.

It seems like whenever it rains like this, my mind turns to Islay. That region just seems to produce whiskeys that truly take me to their environment. It makes me crave a salty ocean, sea spray, and the rugged nature of the terroir of the land it comes from. Tonight is one of those nights. I want to hunker down like a cask dangling over the precipice of the ocean, quietly waiting and listening, with the waves of Islay pounding my senses.

Rather than plunge face first into a peat bog (which I sometimes crave) this evening I want something that takes me there, but doesn’t fully abuse me. I want to go gentle into this good night. Therefore, I reach for the Caol Ila 12. It can quench my peat desires, but still stay light and balanced enough to entertain other areas of my tongue and palate.

Tasting Notes:

Appearance: Light straw and Medium bodied

Nose: Ocean, Grass, Peat, just lovely

Palate: Oily yet sweet, the smoke blends in with everything seamlessly…shockingly fruity despite the seaweed & brine-like peat flavors that ebb and flow throughout

Finish: Clean smoke (not too ashy), sweetness


What a great way to ease someone into the Islay region. This has a ‘clean smoke’ in it, as opposed to some of the stronger and denser peat-smokes that come from the Ardbegs of the world. This is one of those drams that takes me to a few different places. Of course, it achieves what I believe should be the goal of most whiskeys, which is to take the imbiber to the distillery/region of origin via the senses. It certainly achieves that by giving me a sample of Islay. However, this one goes a step further and fully takes me to something specific that I get to enjoy by living in New Jersey: a seashore campfire. That sea spray and smoke just combine to be a lovely night on the shore…with pounding rain of course.

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WhiskyBee commented

Great review. Your words had a nice calming effect after a tense day.

And I agree 100%. I always thought Caol Ila was the best intro-to-peat whisky out there.

11 years ago 0

Nemesis101 commented

Excellent review. You've brought back loads of nostalgic memories of my trip round Islay a couple of years back - both of the whisky and the amazing island itself.

And I've always thought Caol Ila to be one of the most underrated distilleries, too often in the shadow of its southerly neighbours.

11 years ago 0

whiskyjourney commented

Sorry for the delayed response here...I was away for a little while. Thank you both for your kind words! @whiskybee, glad I was able to give you a calm moment during a tense day. :)

11 years ago 0

Lifewaterforce commented

This sure isn't a stormy islay for once, closer to lagavulin than laphroaig or ardbeg, but individual still, with a bit of a white wine complexity to it as well. A mellow rainy coastline whisky, couldn't have put it better than you did here! A poster-review for the Caol ila 12!

10 years ago 0