Caol Ila Distillery Independent Bottlers Island of Islay Scotland Whisky from 0 to 50 euros Wilson & Morgan

Wilson & Morgan Caol Ila 2008-2020 Quercus Alba

Review of a 2008 Caol Ila bottled by Wilson & Morgan.

Origin: Isle of Islay (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Gradation: 46%ABV
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon First Fill and Virgin American Oak
Chillfiltered: No
Added coloring: No
Owner: Wilson & Morgan
Average price: € 47.00
Official website: www.wilsonandmorgan.com
Vote: 88/100

A couple of months after the excellent Ben Nevis 7yo (2013-2020), we return to taste a whisky from the Barrel Selection of Italian Wilson & Morgan: a Caol Ila distilled in 2008 and bottled in 2020. The result of vatting (the process of mixing several whiskies with different characteristics but all coming from the same distillery) of five ex-Bourbon casks of first filling and two virgin American white oak casks (hence the name Quercus Alba), it’s offered at 46% ABV, in its natural colour and without chillfiltration. Many excellent Caol Ila ex-Bourbon can be found around that age among independents. Wilson & Morgan wanted to take a risk with the addition of virgin casks. Let’s see how it turned out.

Tasting Notes

The colour is straw yellow.
The nose immediately reveals the typical notes of Caol Ila: bonfire smoke, salted herring, seaweed, smoked ham and an unexpected whiff of burnt tyre. The aromatic palette is enriched by a hint of resin, a sprinkling of cloves and an unusual scent of incense. A faint impression of vinegar is accompanied by a very autumnal memory of roasted chestnuts. With a little attention, one can also detect, in the background, dried dates, a touch of wax, a thread of worked leather and a fragrance that suggests a walk in a fir wood. We are faced with a rich and original nose that tells of a whisky that is not necessarily accommodating.
On the palate, the oily body envelops the mouth with hints of sea peat and campfire smoke, with charred bacon and lots of black pepper witnessing the marriage of freshly cut wood and dried fruit (peanuts and cashews).
The finish of smoke and dried fruit boasts, as is traditional for the distillery, an above-average persistence.

Like blending, vatting is a fine art that requires an uncommon knowledge of the material and a sense of proportion. Wilson & Morgan show that they possess them with this whisky that is so risky on paper, that probably requires time and patience to be enjoyed to the full, but that rewards the drinker with a dram of great substance not without surprises.

Reviews of Caol Ila whisky in the blog

Reviews of Wilson & Morgan whisky in the blog

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