Nose: An intensely rich nose of Shreddies and toffee with hints of violet. When left in the glass for a minute or two, smoky bacon notes were also apparent.
Palate: Fairly light in texture with notes of toffee, vanilla and pear joined by a hint of ash on the very back palate.
Finish: Light in intensity, but not in complexity. The sweeter notes from the palate end fairly quickly, leaving a delightful subtle finish of ash, tar and light peat.
Comment: Another excellent whisky for those who don’t like their Islay too peat-heavy. I tried this with some Cashel Blue cheese and as has been proven many times before, peated whisky and blue cheese are a match made in heaven.
Tasting Notes by Dave Broom for Whisky Advocate
Funny to think how recently Caol Ila was an Islay giant that was kept pretty much under wraps by its owner. These days it has cemented its reputation as the island's Mr. Consistent. This version shows its character the best, a nose that mixes seashore and grass with a distinct hint of smoked bacon. The peatiness isn't dominant, but flows through-out the palate, scenting, lifting and subtly changing the mix. A delicious oiliness makes it a great food whisky.
Customer Reviews:(38 reviews)
The only dram, that answers all of a real whisky lovers questions, avoids any kind of extremes and shapes that genius composition priced at a level, which gives everybody the chance to have that wonderful experience.
- The treverer , 12th September
Very very nice indeed! I think I still prefer the Ardbeg for its extra peat kick, but this has a much smoother subtlety to it! Highly recommend!
- Derek Kinsella 20th April '14, 21st April
Fairly light. Smoky but not quite as overpowering as Laphroaig 10 which it resembles a bit.
I'm not too fond of it because it seems to be a bit thin for my taste. Still, if you're into the style of light-bodied peaty whiskies, certainly worth a try.
- anonymous, 11th Jul '13
A great whisky, one of the best for this price. Plenty of peat but nothing like Laphroaig of Lagavulin. I had a fantastic cask strength 30ish year old single cask Caol Ila at a Whisky Lounge tasting and have loved it ever since.
- The Colonel, 30th Mar '13
Very interesting dram indeed. Lovely sweet oily nature to it. Sophisticated for sure. Sweet and dry, some peat, somewhat intense (nothing like Laphroig or Talisker per se). No chill-filtering and no coloring also indicate that this single malt has a dram with solid character.
- Scotch fan, 12th Feb '13
Yup, like most people have said, a nice way to "ease in" to Islay's. A few more unusual flavours with Caol Ila which you dont get with Ardbeg or Lagavulin - salt, a nice oiliness (trust me) and believe it or not there's a pleasant hint of rubber when you're sniffing!! :) Overall a nice "left-field" dram. The cask strength stuff is wonderful too!!
- Sean Sankey, 4th Dec '12
I find the nose has a very clean smokiness about it, not like the big dirty peaty whiffs you get from ardbeg. Palate quite medicinal but more on the gentle side, some citrus tangs and a good load of salt. Finish is a bit short which is disappointing, otherwise a nice dram. Perfect for introduction to those taking first baby steps into Islay malts.
- anonymous, 12th Mar '12
El mejor de Islay sin duda. Un gran compañero para pasar el invierno.
- Ignacio - Argentina., 11th Mar '12
I have the 12 year old which is a truly great Islay whisky.
It sits between Laphroaig 10 and Lagavulin 16 with of course their other southern neighbour Ardbeg. It really is addictive, and although I have 7 different Laphroaigs open, and 5 Ardbegs, its this one I am drawn back to more and more. I have just purchased a Moch which remains unopened as yet. Caol Ila 12 is beautiful - for me this is more and more becoming the definitive Islay malt.Slainte!!
- Andrew - Dundee, 15th Feb '12
Amongst 12 scotch whiskies that I own (including Talisker and Lagavulin) Caol Ila is the one I go back to the most often... Next need to try to Ardbeg and compare!
- C.M., 1st Feb '12
Criminally underrated for far too long, Caol Ila is finally starting to receive the recognition it deserves; easily the equal of its south coast rivals, Caol Ila is second only to Ardbeg in my affections and this 12 year old is a fine introduction to the brand.
- Gary, Orkney, 27th Nov '11
This is one of my favourites, a really nice dram...just buy and enjoy and take no notice of those pretentious long winded comments!
Remember every ones taste is different, but you might like this one!
- mark brailsford, 21st Nov '11
Don't get bogged down in peoples pretentious, arrogant tasting comments about whisky, just drink, enjoy and make your own mind up!
- mark brailsford, 20th Nov '11
lovely whisky, so smooth, great balance of smoke and peat but subtle with it. Nice warm finish. Easily one of the best whiskies for the money. Excellent :-)
- James Dickson, 17th Nov '11
el mejor whisky para los días lluviosos de invierno!, al menos para mi. saludos desde Argentina
- Ignatius, 16th Aug '11
This has a subtle (weak) nose, is initially mild on the palate and reveals enough smoke in the finish to be recognised as an Islay. However a background bitterness creeps into the mild flavour and is carried forward into the finish. The bitter edge was the taste I was left with despite tasting a few times to be sure. For me the Laphroaig 10 is better.
- James D., 7th Jul '11
It's all about the Islays for me and this is one of the best. Probably the most accessible of the smoky ones but don't let that put you off – this still packs a punch. I like Caol Ila 12 as a slightly (but only slightly) gentler option to my trusty Laphroaig 10
- TJ, 10th Jun '11
The none too subtle flavour will generate discussion for first time malt drinkers. it has an earthy and peaty flavour which will catch your throat but then travels down to fire the soul. This is an early classic in the making, would love to be able to try a 50 year old in a few years time. Worth the purchase.
- Mark Turner, 24th May '11
My first experience of an Islay was Ardbeg, which literally blew my head off. Caol Isla is more subtle, more accessible and less harsh than some Islay's yet still maintains that smokey peatiness that so defines Islay single malts. This is suprisingly subtle with a faint smoke that lingers on the palate. A good introduction to Islay's.
- Craig Bryant, 15th May '11
I found this whisky surprisingly subtle. It is light and sweet in character with some citrus and oak notes in addition to the peat. Quite pleasant.