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Caol ila 18 Year Old

Average score from 12 reviews and 43 ratings 85

Caol ila 18 Year Old

Product details

  • Brand: Caol Ila
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 43.0%
  • Age: 18 year old

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Caol ila 18 Year Old

Of all the (peated) scotch whiskies I've ever tasted, this is the one I've enjoyed the best (... So far).

This Caol Ila has a very well defined character, and plenty of aromas. Smoke and peat are well balanced by a fruity sweetness.

Nose : citruses, vanilla, spices, light smoke Palate : oil, wood, smoke, well integrated and very rewarding. Malt sweetness Finish : long, sweet, more smoke.

It's a wolf's smoke in a gentle sheep's clothing. And what a wolf.


This is possibly the oiliest whisky in the world, certainly the oiliest I’ve ever encountered. The bottle is olive green too which might colour ones impression a bit, but in the glass this is a golden coloured malt. The nose is softly peaty, no phenolic reek here, with some pine wood smoke and a hint of fresh cabbage. The mouth feel is full and oily and quite a strong alcoholic tang for a malt this age, the flavours not achingly complex, the peat is soft again interlaced with smoke. The finish continues the main themes with little change for a tolerable length. If you like the oily texture, and I for one do, it’s a good if uneventful lightly peated dram. I’d recommend anyone try the 12 year old before this though.

Very interesting. I usually like oily but this doesn't sound appetizing. I like the younger independent bottlings of Caol Ila. I have a 21 indie. Hope it doesn't let me down. When Caol Ila first started branching out, it had some dynamite older stock. Not sure about now. I will go check other reviews of the 18. Thanks for your thoughts

It's not a bad whisky at all, but the oilyness is it's most distinctive feature though and I probably marked it down a little because of it. I love dipping some crusty bread into extra virgin olive oil and so the oilyness does'nt bother me one bit. I hope your 21 year old is from a good cask.


Nose is a warming mellow peat smoke. With plenty of dry salty goodness. November 5th Bonfires on a dank autumnal night - with a little hint of treacle toffee for good measure. Calming and relaxing.

Very smooth peaty palate but with liquorice now. Smokey barbecue flavours overlay a continuing briney dryness. It is mellow but perhaps a bit one dimensional.

Fades to a decent drying smokey finish.

Hmmm, interesting one to judge. What it does present is excellent - it's a very very mellow and relaxing malt. Silky smooth smokey flavours with a drying edge...BUT it just lacks that bit of complexity that would really make it truly compelling. It's highly enjoyable if you don't analyze it too much. I'd recommend it if it was a bit cheaper.


I consider Caol Ila the anonymous support system that keeps the whisky industry flourishing. Founded in 1846 the distillery changed many hands until, like most distilleries, it landed in the hands of drink giants Diageo.

Every single whisky drinker in the world, without fail, has had a Caol Ila pass through his lips thanks to Diageo using it as the main malt for it's Johnnie Walker blended range. What's a little sad is that 99% of them have no idea the distillery even exists.

They have three core expressions (12, 18 & 25) with a smattering of special releases. Generally quite tame they are one of the lighter Islay whiskies.

Nose: It's quite a sweet nose with a vanilla cedar quality to it. Fresh ream of paper with a hint of lemony peat. Finally butterscotch on top of smoky cold cuts. Quite lovely actually.

Palate: Understated and restrained. It could be mistaken for being one dimensional but I don't think it is. The lemony peppers work well with the apricot slices while the woody limestone gives your palate a nice coating.

Finish: The understated peat is back with a touch of spice.

I like this whisky. I think it goes about it's business without becoming over bearing.

Love the developement in this one, so goooddd:)

wow never knew this was used for the standard JW Black Label blend. I thought they just majorly used whiskies from Cardhu/Clynelish.


The Caol Ila distillery is located on Islay, near Port Askaig, overlooking the strait between Islay and Jura, and was founded in 1846. Its name derives from the Gaelic for ‘Sound of Islay’. The distillery is part of Diageo, and in addition to being sold as a single malt is used heavily in blends such as Johnnie Walker and Black Bottle.

The nose is rather delicate and quite fragrant: brine and very subdued smoke mingle with hints of vanilla and marzipan. There is also a touch of diesel oil. This is definitely less raw than the 12yo but I cannot say that I am a big fan of this nose.

The palate is medium-bodied and a bit peppery at the beginning. Afterwards there is a dominant mix of brine, salt, and smoky sweetness, all in all a mouth coating experience.

The finish is long, rather dry, and pleasantly lingering.

This clearly is a soft Caol Ila compared with the more extroverted 12yo or the core range’s cask strength bottling. While I did not particularly care for the nose, the palate gives this single malt depth and meaning and defines its identity as an Islay gentleman. This will not become part of my whisky cabinet; nevertheless I enjoyed the tasting experience.

I find this one far more interesting than the heavier, peatier 12 year old. It's hard to find in europe, and quite pricey...


When I tasted the Caol Ila 12 and the Cask Strength I immediately fell in love with this lesser known giant and I was dying to get a hold of the 18. I couldnt get it at the Dutch webshops anymore or for a ridiculous price. Luckily I stumbled upon it in the liquorshop nearby for only €51,95 :) What a break! I took it, raced home and poured one right away. I dont think it needs any water, but you can add 1 ore 2 drops (no more I think) to notice slight differences.

Nose: sweet vanilla, ripe pear, salty seagrass, citrus, fresh baked cake, fresh woodsap, Frangelico, sunflowers, bit of smoke and peat in the background and marzipan. Quite soft, delicate and complex and it evolves nicely with some oil, dry hay, ash and a little iodine. Give it some time

Arrival: spices, nuts, pipesmoke, peat and wood. It comes in without knocking, quite powerful and tingles the mouth Development: malt, lots of peaty malt, more than in the nose; then some soft sour citrustones and goes back to sweet caramel/vanilla/bourbontones. All really well balanced.

Finish: dry wood, earth, barley, soft bbq smoke ash and some iodine comes back.

I think you can say I really love this stuff. I did'nt have much older Islay whiskies before, but so far this is exactly my kind of malt: complex, delicate, smooth ánd it packs a punch. I advise to first taste some Laphroaig 10, Lagavulin 16, Ardbeg 10, Caol Ila 12, Bunnahabhain 12 and then upgrade to this one. If u can find it... I read that they are planning to release more of the 18, hopefully also on Cask Strength!


When it comes to Ardbeg, I always recommend beginners start with Uigeadail. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but I've turned quite a few newbies onto Ardbeg that way, at least when they come over to my house : )

Go get one! Its a nice quest and the spoils are rewarding; I was just lucky to find it, the store where I found it has one more bottle... and its gonna be mine soon! Call me cheap, but I still have some trouble with whiskies running past the €50,- mark, like Ardbegs do most of the time. So Im still trying to extract the diamonds out of the €50 coals. Bunnahabhain is a good one in that sense, as long as you dont expect peat and smoke.


Unmistakably a peaty Islay malt, but not overpoweringly peaty.

The nose is as impressive as the taste. Very big aroma of a herbal, vegetal nature, with hints of grass and creamy malt.

This sets up an incredible experience to the palate, with a big refined sweetness. You then get the hit from the well integrated oak, then a smokiness followed by the peatiness and barley.

The finish makes this one of the greatest whisky's to leave Islay. A long subtle finish, with a herbiness to it, mixed together with a gentle smokiness and soft peatiness.

It's understandably a very difficult dram to get hold of and ranks as one of the finest single malts available. A dram you never tire of and will never fail to enjoy.


This Islay malt is not as coarse as many I have tried from this region and it is also not peat-heavy, either. The nose is exciting and addicting. The flavors don’t deliver quite as much as the nose, but still very satisfying. Now for the specifics.


This is another sample I received from the Master of Malt Drinks by the Dram program. (I really love DBTD!) I enjoyed the Cask Strength from Caola Ila, and I expect to enjoy this 18yr.

ABV: 43%

Nose: Smoke and sea air. Yum! Some pear in there, but it is mostly masked by the big smoke.

Palate: A little tangy on the tongue. Frankly, not good. It is a bit light in the mouth.

Finish: Medium finish, with more of that light, tangy flavor that was there on the palate.

With such promise on the nose, this turned out to be a real loser for me. I have a bit left in my glass, and I am actually contemplating pouring it out. It is perhaps "too" unique of a flavor for me. That's it, I'm pouring it out. I just don't want that taste in my mouth any more...

I poured it out, and I am now trying to enjoy a bit more of the Clynelish 14yr that I enjoyed so much earlier. Unfortunately, the Caol Ila was so bad, it ruined my enjoyment of the Clynelish. That's how bad I found the Caol Ila to be...

Well, I am finishing off my sample of this whisky, and everything is the same except for the foul tanginess that I detected the first time. This time, it is a bit watery, and not very powerful (except on the sides of the mouth). Perhaps it is the effect of the cigar I smoked earlier in the day, but it is quite pleasant now. Perhaps a tad boring? Hmmmm... Rest assured, I liked the Cask Strength Caol Ila MUCH better!


After the 12 Year Old – which I really liked – I’ll now try the 18 Year Old, also from the core range of the largest distillery on Islay. After that, I’ll try a very special independent bottling of Caol Ila. I’m not saying which one yet…

This one is softer than his younger brother. Sweeter too. Light peat, dried grass, something flowery (think rosewater), a touch waxy, menthol and some smoke. Vanilla and tangerines.

On the palate, it’s very creamy. The sweet taste immediately takes control. It is drying with vanilla at the kick off, while the peat stays in the dugout. Brine is the goal keeper.

The finish, of medium length, is drying and warm on liquorice & brine.

This one will set you back double of what the 12 Year Old costs, but has little extra to offer. He’s a bit… nice, easygoing. The grown-up Caol Ila. I prefer the brash and more playful younger brother.


Nose : Peat hovering, some sweet fruit, honey?, oatmeal. the peat is not biting but it's more powerful than one would expect from a 18 year old malt. Citrus is much lighter than the other 2 expressions. interesting. brine. smoke is there yet also not very powerful. Vanilla and some flower petals. (chamomile?) . Islay, but not shouting or kicking. more well behaved than the younger versions, and nicely so.

palate: smoky sweetness. very rounded . some pepper at the start then moving on with peat some oats, then back to the pepper on the finish. All very subtle compare to the ‘wham bam!’ if the CS and the 12…

Finish : smoky, long dry and some wood touches. rather long.


Softer nose, less salty and less smoky. Instead sweeter notes of flowers, apricot and marzipan. More grass as well. Mouth: development of vanilla, peat, some smoke and a bit more salt than on the nose. Finish: coffee with liquorice and that salty touch again.

I was comparing to Caol Ila 12yo by the way.

So, from your review, the 18 yo is slightly better than the 12 (which it should be), but how is it in terms of value for money?

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