Smoky Sweetness From The Eighties
Caol Ila is certainly not the best known distillery on Islay. Their focus on single malts is relatively new compared to other more famous brands on the whisky island. In fact, a lot of the production of the distillery is for Johnnie Walker blends. Vintages from the sixties or seventies are very rare, but there are plenty of good bottlings from the eighties. And this one by Douglas Laing is a great example. Before I forget: this is one of the drams tasted at the Highlander Inn.
Caol Ila 1984/2012 (52,2%, Douglas Lang Platinum, 171 bts)
Nose: The obvious peat smoke is there, along with some saltiness and seawood. But because this has matured in a sherry hogshead there is also a lovely sweetness, highlighted by a great honey smell.
Taste: Fairly oily mouthfeel. Sea salt, iodine, charred wood and peat smoke highlight the taste of this Caol Ila. The influence of the hogshead is noticeable here as well, with some orange and again, honey.
Finish: In terms of length, Islay finishes are often unparalleled. This Caol Ila is no exception. It is very, very long and the intensity and warmth is amazing. There’s endless peat smoke, some spice and a hint of chocolate.
A good finish is extremely important to me. A whisky can have a great nose and fantastic taste, but can still disappoint if it doesn’t have a lengthy finish. Luckily there’s no need to worry about that with this Caol Ila. It’s a release from early 2012, but it is still available at The Whisky Exchange. All that separates you now from this whisky is a single click on that link… and sadly also £230.
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.