Probably one of the most consistent brands out there is Caol Ila. Of course, one is better than the other as it goes with whisky and personal taste, but I can’t remember having had a bad Caol Ila ever. The brand works well at both a young age and an older age. Mostly peated, but in recent years there have also been a number of non-peated releases that were definitely worth a try. Although I can appreciate the younger versions from time to time, I usually tend to be drawn to Caol Ila’s that are verging on the mature side. The peat is a bit more in the background, giving other tones further room to develop.
The same goes for this Caol Ila 2001 from Gordon & MacPhail. A 17-year-old, which is exclusively bottled for the Netherlands. A bottle that I bought for the afterparty of the Whiskybase Gathering and where I tasted it for the first time. I thought this was excellent at that moment, but it is always better to really give an opinion by tasting something in the comfort of your own home. Spoiler alert: my opinion remains the same! 😉 Anyway, if you are still curious about my tasting notes, here they are.
This Caol Ila has matured in a 1st fill bourbon cask and is bottled at 55.4% ABV.
Caol Ila 2001 tasting notes:
Nose: Peat mixed with tropical fruits, nice! Peach. a hint of kiwi. Plenty of vanilla too. Some icing sugar in the background. Brine. And then it becomes somewhat ashy. Followed by lemons and unripe pears. With water: Less peaty, a hint of seaweed and it’s fresher. The fruits are still here, but also soya yoghurt and olive oil.
Taste: Peat again, but less than the nose suggests. It goes more towards the tropical fruits; mostly apricots and peaches. Then vanilla. Oranges and a bit of lemon. There’s a hint of oak. And some spices, but more in the background, chilli peppers, mint. With water: More subtle, the tropical fruits blend in nicely now. More peach. Olive oil here too. Caramel and it’s slightly ashy.
Finish: mid-long, with the fruits again, minerals and a hint of mint.
A beautiful Caol Ila, which is a nice combination of tropical fruits and the Caol Ila characteristics. The 1st fill bourbon cask seems to work very well with the layer of peat which ensures that it does not become too sweet. Very well balanced and quite an interesting one! I love it.