Caol Ila Distillery Island of Islay Scotland

Caol Ila 12yo

Review of Caol Ila 12yo, the other classic peated whisky from Islay.

Origin: Isle of Islay (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Gradation: 43%ABV
Ageing barrels: Ex-Bourbon
Chillfiltered: Yes
Added coloring: Yes
Owner: Diageo
Average price: € 36.00
Official website: www.malts.com/en-row/distilleries/caol-ila
Vote: 86/100

Like the Lagavulin 16 reviewed in these pages, another of the whiskies that is undoubtedly best known is the 12-year-old Caol Ila. Equally widespread in large (and small) retailers, available at a more than affordable price, and always in the family of peated whiskies from that friendly and lively little Scottish island, which from the list of distilleries it hosts almost seems to trip over each other…

Some might think that two spirits coming from the same area and with similar characteristics (even in terms of alcohol content) are therefore the same.
But no, because the beauty (and charm) of whisky lies precisely in its ability to stand out clearly, thanks to the “displacement” of individual details, even if only geographical, which may appear superficial on paper but which make all the difference.

For example, compared to the Lagavulin 16, poured into the glass we already find a clearer colour (although there is always our friend caramel to ‘pollute’ things), which unfortunately the dark bottle doesn’t allow to appreciate.
The Islay provenance can be felt in the brackish scents that accompany the peat, together with citrus and fresh notes which, if the glass is left to air for some time, also bring out a certain spiciness.
The palate reflects what was perceived on the nose, with the smokiness of the peat again (scents that clearly recall the places of origin of this distillate), together with pepper and citrus. The oceanic salinity is always present, well integrated into the whole, without ever overwhelming the colours of the whisky.
Smoke and spices remain in the mouth after emptying (calmly) the glass, in which the scent remains present for as long as on the palate.

Close and yet far from its island cousin, I personally like it just a little less, it’s really hard to put into words why. Perhaps I find the Lagavulin 16 more elegant on the whole, more structured.
But have at it, especially at this price…

Other bottlings in the blog:
Caol Ila Distillers Edition 2018
Caol Ila Natural Cask Strength
Dream N°2
Gordon&MacPhail Reserve Caol Ila 2008
The Islay Star 11yo
Valinch & Mallet Caol Ila 11yo

Other perspectives:
One More Dram

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