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Caol Ila 12 Year Old

Light, bright, and polite...

0 1090

@hunggarReview by @hunggar

2nd Dec 2014

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  • Nose
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  • Overall
    90

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Caol Ila is one of those distilleries that I wish had a broader lineup. I love the 12, and I wish I could explore the brand more. Diageo’s Islay whiskies tend to be pretty conservative about how much they release. With the 18 getting harder and harder to find, unless you’re getting a Distiller’s Edition or paying big bucks for an older bottling, you’re pretty much out of luck for exploring Caol Ila. Oh, well. Here’s the 12…

Nose: Coastal and light. Black olives, bright, intense honey, seaweed, ocean air, sea salt, licorice, herbs, malt, and gentle peat. I find the honeyed sweetness here particularly inviting.

Palate: Light mouthfeel, with a paced and polite arrival. The lovely golden honey note stands out. Oysters, sea salt, olives, honey, peat, and seaweed.

Finish: The texture gets more oily as it slides down the tongue. Salt, caramel, golden honey, black olives, herbs, and seaweed.

Thoughts: Beautiful structure. The olive, honey, and peat flavours are in perfect balance, and form the foundation of the whisky. This is famously dubbed a “maritime” flavour profile, and it is. But instead of taking me to the north Atlantic, I’m taken to Greece, or Italy perhaps. Beyond the olives and herbs, there’s a nice balance between salty, sweet, and savory that reminds me of good Mediterranean seafood. But all that romance aside, this is tasty stuff. Yes, the abv is low and the whisky is light, but Islay produces plenty of whiskies that lob peat grenades into your mouth. It’s nice to have something light and polite once in a while, particularly when it tastes this good.

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10 comments

@Ol_Jas
Ol_Jas commented

"light and polite" is a nice way of putting it.

If one wants POWERFUL Caol Ila, I think CS IBs are the way to go. And IB Caol Ilas are plentiful. A widely available CS OB would be welcome. Like Laphroaig.

5 years ago 0

@hunggar
hunggar commented

@OlJas, Good idea. I should keep my eye out for Caol Ila IB's!

5 years ago 0

@PeatyZealot
PeatyZealot commented

The official Caol Ila CS was widely available a few years ago, but seems to have been discontinued :(

5 years ago 0

@hunggar
hunggar commented

@PeatyZealot, the Caol Ila CS was fantastic. It is dearly missed. Hopefully CI either brings it back someday or adds something similar to their range.

5 years ago 0

@Ol_Jas
Ol_Jas commented

At the risk of repeating myself, thank the gods for the IBs. I sure haven't counted or anything, but I wouldn't be surprised if Caol Ila has the most IBs of any distillery. It seems like if you find a place that sells IBs, they'll have some Caol Ila. And probably like six of them.

5 years ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

The CI CS is still available last time I checked on the UK sites, but pretty pricy. Worth it though, in my opinion. I bought a few of the 200 cc bottles which were cheaper per ml than the 700 cc bottle. Unfortunately they are stuck in the UK as my "mule" had to cancel her trip...

5 years ago 0

@hunggar
hunggar commented

@Nozinan, the CS is still sparsely available here, too. But as you said prices are climbing. That's one to pick up for a rainy day, I think.

5 years ago 0

@thePeatofile
thePeatofile commented

Not sure where you're at. But you may want to try Port Askaig. I don't think this is available in the US. I think their range has a 12, 17, 19, 25 and I think a limited release 30 year. Word on the Internet, is, that it is Caol Ila. I tried the 17 year once, it was very good.

5 years ago 0

@Ol_Jas
Ol_Jas commented

I'd love to walk into a shop and find some Port Askaig sitting on the shelf.

About Caol Ila in general: My previous comments are sort of veiled criticisms of the 12 YO OB, but I do think it sits in a decent place among its Islay brethren. Peaty but milder than the big boys, and fresh. The price should be lower for that less intense experience, though. I often see Caol Ila 12 in the $60 neighborhood, which is poor value in my book. I last bought one in 2013 for $38, which was both (a) a steal by typical price standards; and (b) about right for what you get, I think.

I really like the bottle & label design, too. Simple and classy. I think the old Talisker labels were more like this, which I think was better than the current busy label. I selected that last Caol Ila bottle of mine to be a temporary blend bottle because it the classiest of the bottles I was dumping together.

5 years ago 0

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