Whisky Advocate

Guest Review: Caol Ila, 25 Year Old, 43%, $205

August 16th, 2010

This is to be a permanent addition to the core Caol Ila range, but it will raise a few eyebrows, completely ignoring the current peat battle between Ardbeg and Bruichladdich and heading off into an altogether more refined and delicate direction. This is a dignified and complex malt, which doesn’t give everything up immediately. There’s soft pear and guava on the nose, and the trademark oiliness and distinctive peat are there, but there’s a buttery quality, too, as well as some brine and spice, apple pip, and traces of aniseed. You get a sense of its age late on, with some oaky tannins and sharper spice, but overall this is an unhurried, complex, and sweet whisky with just enough peat to keep it honest. Very impressive. (Limited general releases, excluding the U.S.) – Dominic Roskrow

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 88

16 Responses to “Guest Review: Caol Ila, 25 Year Old, 43%, $205”

  1. Tony Harrison says:

    I have always been a fan of Caol Ila – a fifteen year old Signatory (the oval bottle) is one of my favorites. It reminds me of long, lost Port Ellen.

    At this age, I often find the whiskey too woody, but every now and then you get something wonderful. 25 year old Hillside from the Rare Malts is like that. Just astounding. I haven’t tried this but I look forward to it.

  2. In my opinion this is a rather affordable (and thus unexpected) release of Diageo. I am looking forward to tasting it soon, when it gets around a bit more and becomes more and more available.

    It surprised me that the price is so much lower than anything else at this age that is released at the moment by distilleries themselves…

    The tasting notes look good. I like those quiet ones a bit better than the peaty guns of Navarone that are being released by Ardbeg and Bruich these days.

  3. James says:

    The distillery tour could use a little work, but I have never been able to fault their whiskies. The 18yo is one of my very favourite malts, Islay or otherwise, and not having experienced any Islay’s (OBs, that is) beyond this age the comparative affordability is much appreciated. I love a Caol Ila of any maturity as an aperitif. The 12yo is personally nigh-on unbeatable in this slot.
    I’ll root out this 25yo next time I’m at the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh.

  4. Sounds wonderful. I look forward to trying this new expression. I only wish Diageo had kept the Caol Ila 25 bottled at cask strength!

  5. DavidG says:

    How does this compare, in your estimation, to the cask strength 25 year old from a few years back? How did you rate that one?

  6. Michael says:

    Thank you for the review.
    I am also a big fan of Caol Ila. I like 18YO very much and I find myself reaching for Caol Ila more often than Ardbeg (I find Corryvreckan overrated although I do like ANB).
    What surprises and annoys me is that this expression of Caol Ila is not available in the US. I do hope that I will get it in Canada.

    • DavidG says:

      Its been a while since I have seen the 18 on store shelves – is it discontinued? Was it held back for a few years to make this new 25?

      • Michael says:

        The source of Caol Ila18YO for me have been CI collection packs and trips to Europe. I got CI 18YO for less than $60 there. By the way, I saw Caol Ila 12YO for less than $27 at one of the airports in Europe. Aas I keep saying, I do not understand how North American single malt whisky market operates.

  7. Thomas W says:

    Dominic, did you select the whiskies you wrote tasting for notes so far (on this website) by yourself? – If so, terrific choice! (I tend to only buy whiskies made by Scottish destilleries, but Ian Henderson is someone I know quite well, being a big Laphroaig aficionado).

    Please know I very often use your notes in the Malt Whisky Yearbook, they are much better than, well… the other ones in that book (no assault intended, just being honest). Keep up the good work!! Good to have you on this blog!

  8. Texas says:

    The only Caol Ila I have had (and still a bit left) is the 1995 G&M Connoisseur’s Choice..I must say I have been very impressed. Much softer than Laph or Ardbeg. Nice whisky, actually I get a butteriness that you see in this 25 year.

  9. Mr Claw says:

    I got to try this courtesy of some friends at the Whisky Exchange in London. I took the chaps in a sample of an ‘eccentric’ bottling from home for them to try: they busted out the Caol Ila 25 by way of thanks.

    First off, I’m a fan of Caol Ila, but, that aside, I think this is a rather good bottle. Not overly peaty on the nose (although it’s there) – as you would expect from a whisky that’s spent that long in cask. I also got tropical and buttery notes, and I didn’t think it was too woody at all – the spirit’s survived remarkably well.

    “…completely ignoring the current peat battle between Ardbeg and Bruichladdich and heading off into an altogether more refined and delicate direction…”

    And good on ‘em I say! I’d much rather have refinement! There’s something to be said for power, but my ‘best’ whiskies are the more elegant and complex ones.

    Personally I love Ardbeg, but I find this peat war all a bit of macho posturing. I have yet to try the Supernova (although I plan to). I would hope it shows the complexity of the Uigeadail or Corryvreckan, but it still strikes me as like the one-upmanship of blokes going to a curry house and each competing for the hottest curry…

  10. Jerome says:

    Thanks for this review, Dominic. The Caol 25yo CS from 1978 (bottled 2004) made my Top Ten list. I enjoyed the 1979 a little less than the ’78. CI does very well at cask strength so I’m a bit disappointed that this isn’t cask strength as well.

  11. Jane says:

    I am always on the look out for some different whiskies for my partner who loves a wee dram. He has enjoyed whiskey for many years & has taken pleasure in all from blended to single malt, however this Caol 12 year old whiskey has sat in our cupboard since July this year untouched apart from a single measure. I am no expert but i paid £30 this bottle which smells of antispetic & tastes pretty much the same. I am aware that age does matter but should it be rendered undrinkable?

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