[Review] Caol Ila - 19 year old Old Malt Cask 50%

As my birthday was last week, I decided to treat myself on Saturday night with a ticket to the Whisky shop Old and Rare tasting session. £40 (members' discount included) sounds a bit steep, but we ended up trying whiskies I would not buy or if I did, I'm not sure I would dare open. I will write about it in more detail in a future post but the reason why I mentioned it is that I didn't leave the evening empty-handed... I have been looking for an independent single-cask bottling of Caol Ila for a while. I looked into some of the Gordon and MacPhail bottling including the 2004 cask strength but decided to wait and see what else was available, particularly for slightly older Caol Ila.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, Caol Ila is one of my favourite distilleries and when I realised the Whisky shop had just received a new addition to their stock, I thought I had to give it a try. It wasn't on the list of the Old and Rare we tried and looking online, there isn't anything available on this particular bottling (maybe due to the fact that only 200 bottles were produced and that it was distilled in September 1996 and only bottled in October 2015) And this is an Old and Rare version of a 19 year old Caol Ila. It is from a single hogshead (HL12001 to be exact) and was of course bottled unchill-filtered and without colouring. It is 50% ABV, so I doubt it is completely cask-strength. And here it is:

The amber colour of this Caol Ila gives away it's richness and sweetness but there is more to it:

Nose: Sweet at first, with orange, peach and vanilla notes and the peat comes through straight after. I also get a bit of nuts and marzipan.

Palate: As with the nose, the initial mouth-feel is sweet peaches, raisins followed by some salty peat and vanilla with hints of oak.

Finish: Rather dry and smoky with a mix of oak and oranges.

With water: I found that the addition of a drop of water kept the profile rather close to the initial sample, just fruitier.

A very enjoyable dram, different from the standard 12. I now need to get hold of a distillers edition to try it again and compare it with this very interesting independent bottle!

Finally, I have just tried to mix a bit of 12 with a drop of this 19 and got a smoky caramel nose, the taste is a fruitier 12 with a nice fresh finish. Still a single malt, just my own experiment! Thanks for the tip Ralfy.


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