We’re sticking with Islay for our Friday reviews as we look at a couple of independently bottled Caol Ilas.
Campbeltown Whisky Company Ltd. Caol Ila 2008 12 Year Old STR Barrique (Electric Coo)
This twelve year old Caol Ila was bottled by Campbeltown Whisky Company Ltd. (CWCL) under the electric coo series. You maybe more familiar with CWCL thought their Watt whisky range. This particular Caol Ila was distilled in March 2008 and matured in a shave, toasted, recharred barrique.
The nose opens with some smoke, but the kind from a bonfire. The smoke isn’t particularly aggressive and this has a fruitier nose with some treacle toffee, prunes, no actually make that raisins and finally there’s a faint hint of grapefruit in the background.
The palate is smokier than the nose and we’re getting a meaty smoke from this. The wine influence comes across as white grapes, and a citrus note that wouldn’t be amiss from a dry white wine. There’s also a touch of chocolate, and with a little air ample amounts of fruit that add a pleasant sweetness.
Nose (with water)
The reduced nose has buttery crumpets, with fainter smoke, that’s now more like the embers of a fire. The white wine notes are more pronounced with the addition of water. There’s also some sticky toffee pudding if you give it a little air.
Palate (with water)
Like the nose the reduced palate is showing less smoke that now comes across more as ash. There’s some sweet notes here from the unreduced palate that linger on the finish along with a not unpleasant peppery spice.
First, we’d recommend this without water. Second, at £70 this was a great buy if you managed to get a bottle. We’ve heard good things about the CWCL, and this release suggests they’re all true. This is an easy 8/10 for us.
SMWS 53.366 Caol Ila 8 Year Old
If you are unaware the 53 in the bottle number is the societies designation for Caol Ila. The second part of the number relates to the number of casks bottled from the distillery. In this case this is the 366th cask the society bottled from Caol Ila by SMWS over their ~36 year existence. This particular release is an 8yo that started in refill bourbon before a second fill sherry cask finish.
The sherry finish is fairly evident on the nose with lots of raisins and nutty notes. There’s also notes of pickles, and smoked cherries. The peat is there, but it comes across mostly as smoked meats and isn’t particularly aggressive. Promising nose on this.
On the palate there’s pig candy, dates, and raspberry jam. There’s also liquorice and of course smoke that reminds us of a slightly burnt herbs. This has a good length spicy chilli finish with a little ash lingering on the tip of the tongue.
Nose (with water)
With water the sherry notes become even more noticeable with the raisins almost becoming PX-like. In addition to the above notes we’re also getting honey glazed ham, cashews, and some costal sea air.
Palate (with water)
With water this becomes more salty, it’s like a hearty portion of salted beef coated in black currant jam. Reduced this is a touch less spicy on the finish now with the smoke receding as well. Personally, we’d drink this with or without water.
As mentioned previously we do think the society Caol Ilas are usual solid if not a touch boring and samey. The finish on this one really helps to elevate this a notch above your average society release, and bonus it’s a good price at £67.10.
- 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
- 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
- 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
- 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
- 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
- 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
- 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
- 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
- 2 - Pour it out
- 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.
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