Back in my favourite whisky bar in Chamonix, France (it’s the only whisky bar in Chamonix, France) I thought I’d have a crack at that rare 1970 Bruichladdich up on the top shelf. But then I remembered that I brought my wife and she wouldn’t let me blow 50 euros on one shot of whisky. (it was a double! Come on.)
So the cheap stuff it was for me. Luckily they had some other really interesting stuff and I ended up trying these Caol Ila’s, only realising afterwards that they were released the same year.
Caol Ila 1991 Signatory 46%
Nose: Quite light on the smoke, more maritime and oily, and pretty complex, quite savoury tobacco, wet leather, beach campfire, some cigar smoke, neoprene wetsuit. Then a little fresh melon with time. Smells much older than its 16 years.
Taste: Soft start, lacking a bit of power then very salty with some sour lemon juice, green apple and smoky minerality, spices then coming in with some ginger and a little light pepper but not as complex as the nose suggested.
Finish: Medium/Long length. A little zesty with nice spice, paprika and lemon.
From Hogsheads, bottled back in 2007 at 16 years old. Great great nose, taste and finish don't follow up unfortunately.
Caol Ila Cask Strength 59.6%
Nose: Intense! Seriously smoky, creamy, medicinal and mineral. Elements of lots of Islay distilleries in here actually but Kilchoman comes to mind the most. Calpol cough syrup like some Laphroaig's, seashells.
Water: Ooo some meaty notes emerge, Gingseng tea, earthy, more ethereal though.
Taste: Soft start for the abv, then very very mineral like a big Kilchoman, salty and maritime, intensely smoky, slightly medicinal and creamy, oily lemon, some wool weirdly then more perfumed but still powerful smoke and lemon citrus. A little spicy with some ginger into the finish.
Water: Softer, more salty, then more spicy with ginger and hot white pepper which unbalances it.
Finish: Long length. Intense initially with mineral, lemon, some ginger snaps and a little white pepper.
No bottling code but Whiskybase tells me bottled 2007. Potent stuff with much more smoke than expected from a Caol Ila, not young either despite the NAS. And despite the strength, it doesn't improve with water I'd say. A great find at the back of the shelf.
Thanks for reading!
Scotch Reviews #571-#572
Whisky Network Reviews #676-#677
Network Average: 74.7
Best Score: 93
Worst Score: 22
60-64 Just About OK
65-69 Ok to Good
75-79 Very Good
Full Disclosure Disclaimer: I currently work as a Brand Ambassador for Penderyn Distillery. The views expressed here are purely my own and do not reflect the views of Penderyn Distillery or The Welsh Whisky Company. I try to maintain as much objectivity as I can but feel free to take my reviews with as big a pinch of salt as you like. Furthermore, my rating scale is NOT based on a Parker type wine scoring scale or a school/college/university % or A-F grade score. You can find more on my scoring here. I apologise for any seemly low or 'bad' scores given with my system and I am sorry I can't say only nice things. Please keep in mind that I am ethically compromised and I am unable to produce 100% unbiased reviews.
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