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Caol ila 1996 Distillers Edition

Average score from 3 reviews and 29 ratings 88

Caol ila 1996 Distillers Edition

Product details

  • Brand: Caol Ila
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • Series: Distillers Edition
  • ABV: 43.0%
  • Vintage: 1996
  • Bottled: 2008

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Caol ila 1996 Distillers Edition

This OB malt, distilled in 1996, has spent the last part of his aging in ex-Moscatel Casks (Moscatel is a liquorous portuguese wine produced near Setubal).

N: initially it seems that a soft smokiness and a hardly peatiness take command: this is no Setubal, this is Islay! Nevertheless, with just a little patience, a lovely aroma of cane sugar, vanilla and a bouquet of candied citrus fruit comes out. Within the expected liquorous notes, tamarind peeps out many times, but with discretion. We like this nose!

P: the aging in Moscatel has refined the notes of smoke and peat, which come to mouth really softly. Thanks to that, the palate is flooded by ripe fruits (red fruits too and mainly strawberry) and chocolate. Remarkable, even if not disturbing, the vinosity.

F: it's a real shame that the finish isn't that good: lenght and strenght are frankly limited. It's a hard job to take back the fruitiness and it's all focused on peat and burnt wood.

In the end, we have to blame the finish, that is guilty of lowering the appeal of this Caol Ila. However the distillery's experiment succeded: the "Ilysh" typical profile isn't upset, but the Moscatel's influence contributes to hide the most prickly and marine characters. So we can appreciate a quite elegant malt, with a never icky sweetness. Price is fair (about 50 euro) and supports our sentence: a good product with no peaks, positive or negative they would be.


This stuff is sneaky; when it first hits your palette you think someone switched your whisky with water, but after a second or so, the whisky arrives and unfolds into a sweeter, smoother version of the 12 Year (due to this observation, I would NOT add water). The finish has a mild sherry note to join the fresh vegetal notes. This stuff could be dangerous...it's so smooth that I think it's the first whisky I've had that I could--potentially--drink like water. We'll see what time does.

Overall, not bad. But, I like a little more fight to my drinks.


I picked up an (overpriced) bottle of this beauty at an airport and have not regretted that purchase for a second. Caol Ila has been among my favourite distilleries for a while, and this new expression has raised my appreciation of them even more.

The nose is peaty, but not overwhelmingly so (unless you don't like peat, in which case you're going to hate this one). The scent seems to subtly change with every inhalation, though hints of dried fruit and nuts tend to emerge more often than not.

The taste is equally complex. The maturation of this 1996 Distillers Edition is finished on Moscatel sherry casks, which leaves a strong imprint on the whisky's flavour: there's an immediate burst of sweetness reminiscent of dessert wines and white grapes, followed by the peaty impact of the whisky's full-bodied palate. Every sip contains the same sweetness and peat, but is layered with different flavours every time: citrus, nuts, dried fruits, sherry, grapes, the flavours just keep on coming.

The alcohol, at 43% a bit above average, leaves a light sting on your tongue, and the peaty aftertaste lingers pleasantly.

Overall this is one impressively fine whisky, instantly earning a spot in my top 5 favourite drams of all time.

Lovely drop. On the mark badams!

Can't wait to grab this!

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