Lately, I’ve been trying to review some more original bottlings, in order to get a nice mix of reviews, in addition to mainly the indie bottlings. And one that I thought could not be missed is the Caol Ila 18 year old. Personally one of my favourites from the core range of Caol Ila, but one that I hadn’t written a review of until now and that I hadn’t tasted for a while.

The distillery has been around for a while, as it was built in 1846, but the first official bottling was not released until 1989. This was one in the Flora & Fauna series, followed by a number of releases in the Rare Malts series. But it the core range was only introduced in 2002, including this Caol Ila 18 year old. Meanwhile, that range has expanded considerably over the years, but Caol Ila’s core business still remains the production of whisky for blends, especially Johnnie Walker.

This Caol Ila is bottled at 43% ABV.

Caol Ila 18 year old tasting notes:

Nose: a very subtle and elegant layer of peat. Seaweed and brine. A hint of lemons and some peppermint in the background. Apples and pears. Then Black pepper and liquorice. Later also caramel and a hint of gingerbread. Pink grapefruit too.

Taste: subtle peat again, but quite in the background. Brine. Which is followed by honey, caramel sea salt and chocolate. Oranges, but also sweet pink grapefruit. Liquorice and black pepper.

Finish: mid-long to long. with mostly black pepper.

I just forgot how good this Caol Ila actually is. Surprisingly, actually. Not to be compared with young Caol Ilas, because he is a lot less aggressive. But it is beautifully subtle and the peat is well integrated and more into the background. The fact that it is bottled at 43% is not an issue at all here. In fact, I would have rated it higher if I had had to taste it blind. All in all, a very nice core range bottle from Caol Ila, and one that I like to go back to once in a while.