The Independent Selection Caol Ila 10yo & Tommasino Caol Ila 12yo


We've got a couple of Caol Ila's today, both in bourbon, one independent bottle and one private cask bottling too!

The Independent Selection Caol Ila 10yo

Region: Islay

ABV: 50.0%

Price: £65.00

A new bottler for us, this release is brought to us by David Stirk, who is probably best known for his writings on Scotch whisky. This Caol Ila was distilled in April 2012 and spent 10 years in a refill butt before being bottled in February 2023.

Nose

Now, this is an industrial Caol Ila; it's like a construction site with notes of sawn wood, tar, drain cleaner, and raw smoke from burning wood. Upon further exploration, we also detect hints of buttery crumpets, white vinegar, soil, and lime. As it sits in the glass, we notice it becoming quite savoury on the nose with lots of pistachios and peanuts.

Palate

It's very nutty, with notes of dry roasted salted peanuts and cashew nuts. There's also a hint of milk, white sugar, a substantial dose of peat, and vanilla beans. It finishes with a touch of spiciness but maintains good harmony between alcohol and sweetness. The palate is somewhat thin, and it concludes with a medium finish marked by smoke and a hint of raw ginger spice. Upon revisiting, a subtle bitterness from pomegranate becomes noticeable.

Nose (with water)

Buttered burnt toast, some cloves, and tar. The nose has become very burnt with the addition of water. It’s also dustier with sawdust, and some saline solution. The earthiness soil before giving way to more savoury pistachios and clove. The smoke reminds us of a bonfire dying in the distance.

Palate (with water)

With water it becomes more savoury - pistachios and roasted chicken. It’s still got a medium finish with a cinnamon and cardamom spice remaining. Unfortunately the mouthfeel is a touch diminished.

Conclusion

We’d skip water in this one. Without water it’s a very spirit forward Caol Ila that some will absolutely love. Personally we wouldn’t say no to another dram.

Score: 7/10

Value

It’s hard to complain about getting a 10yo Caol Ila at £65.


Tommasino Caol Ila 12yo

Region: Islay

ABV: 59.0%

Price: £75.00

Something a little bit different for todays second review as we look at a private cask bottling. We were sent this sample by the owner as he was curious about our opinions. We of course won’t let that impact our review (as we only take cash bribes).

There’s still a few bottles left and if you think this is something you might want you can email Anthony at murph_a@hotmail.co.uk to enquire. Mention Two Whisky Bros and he’ll knock the price down to £70 for you.

Anyway on to the whisky… This release was was matured in a first fill bourbon cask, and bottled at 12 years old.

Nose

Initially the nose is quite restrained, but we are getting notes of bonfire smoke, sweet rice paper, and caramel. As it sits in the glass it develops notes of apricots, mango lassie, earth, dry roasted peanuts, butter, Portuguese salt cod, toast, and lemon balm. A very sweet nose when given a little time.

Palate

Toasted hazelnuts, cod, whipped cream, and icing sugar. The alcohol is a little more noticeable on the palate, but the bite is still good for its ABV. It’s got a good length finish with ginger spice, cloves, and tar lingering. There’s also a slight bitterness from orange peel, and pomegranate appearing as we sit with it. The mouthfeel isn’t as oily as we often get from this distillery but there a little creaminess here.

Nose (with water)

There’s a sweetness to the smoke now, almost like sweet BBQ sauce. We’re also getting a touch more ethanol when adding water, some ginger, dried grape must, candied pecans, a hint of chlorine and cloves.

Palate (with water)

Reduced it’s become nuttier, with more ginger and flamed orange peel. We’re also getting a little lime and salt. Reduction has however ruined the creaminess we enjoyed on the palate, and as such we suggest skipping water.

Conclusion

The first fill bourbon cask has added an extra dimension of sweetness to a whisky that is very typical of Caol Ila. We tried this in a group and some preferred the more spirit forward release from David Stirk, but we slightly preferred the combination of Caol Ila and first fill wood we don’t see enough of.

Score: 7.5/10

Value

Like todays other bottle it’s hard to complain about the price.

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  • 10 - Perfection. One in a million
  • 9 - Outstanding. Exceptional whisky.
  • 8 - Great. Would seek this out.
  • 7 - Good. Quality whisky.
  • 6 - Above average. Happy to have a dram.
  • 5 - Average. Drinkable whisky.
  • 4 - Below average. Passable.
  • 3 - Flawed. Noticeable negatives.
  • 2 - Defective. Significant faults.
  • 1 - Offensive. Pour it out.

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