[Review] Caol Ila - 2004 Connoisseurs Choice G&M 46%

You might have realised that Caol Ila is probably my favourite Scottish distillery and as over 6.5 million liters of spirit are produced there every year, there is no shortage of casks for independent bottlers either and so plenty of indie bottles of Caol Ila for us to choose from.

This one is from one of the most reputable bottlers: Gordon and Macphail. It is part of their Connoisseurs Choice range (which had a bit of a revamp since i purchased this bottle). This is not a single cask release but a vatting of whisky distilled in 2004, aged in 1st-fill ex-Bourbon barrels and bottled in 2018 by G&M.

So a 14 year-old Caol Ila with no extra finish on it. Sounds like a very good start...


As mentioned above, the whisky was distilled in 2004 and bottled in 2018 at 46%, without chill filtration or colouring. The whisky is a nice straw colour!

Nose: Herby and smoky with some sweetness. Thyme, bay leaves, some eucalyptus, honey, vanilla, smoked meat, salt and dried apricots. What a start!

Palate: A little less sweetness on the palate but a wonderful array of flavours. Liquorice, brine, bonfire and charcoal, meaty and oily, peat smoke, some spicy hints too and a little acrid as well. All this still wrapped in some nice herby notes 

Finish: Savoury, smoked meat, wood smoke, briny peat, some charcoal with hints of sweetness, and some coriander kicking about. Pretty good stuff!

With water: The rich meaty, smoky salty notes give way to more citrusy ones on the nose. The palate becomes sweeter first before getting more spice. Again, the smoked meat is dialed down here. The wood smoke, meaty notes resurface on the finish accompanied by some aniseed. I think I might prefer it without...


Wow, another proper dram of Caol Ila here, courtesy of G&M. I still don't think I have ever had a bad Caol Ila... This is back to simple ex-Bourbon barrel maturation and it is absolutely delicious. Shame these have been replaced by new packaging now (and new more-inflated prices!) as that's an absolutely cracking dram!
Slàinte all!


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