Caol Ila 10, 2000 (Berry Bros. and Rudd)

Caol Ila 10, 2000 (BB&R)Here to kick off a run of reviews of smoky whiskies is a younger and higher octane indie Caol Ila than the official 18 yo I recently reviewed. This is from the venerable English bottler Berry Brothers and Rudd, and is a vatting of two (presumably) bourbon casks. This was released in the US, and may have been an exclusive for the Total Wine chain. Let’s get right to it.

Caol Ila 10, 2000 (58.5%; casks 309796+309881; from a sample received in a swap)

Nose: Bright phenolic aromas: gauze bandages in an old-time dispensary, antiseptic lotion (Dettol). Lemon and green olives as well and some vanilla below that. Gets saltier as it goes. Textbook Caol Ila and quite a bruiser at full strength. The olive and lemon intensify with time keeping the increasing sweetness of the vanilla in check. With water the vanilla and lemon and smoke are integrated nicely and there’s some menthol coolness now.

Palate: The salt hits first on the palate and the smoke follows close behind–there’s a lot of it but it’s bright with lemon and then salt again. A little bit tarrier on the second sip, but just a little. With more time it’s sweeter on the palate too but it’s still rather phenolic. With a lot more time the vanilla shows up and begins to get pretty strong. Okay, let’s add water. As on the nose, water ties everything together.

Finish: Long. Very phenolic and salty but the vanilla from the nose begins to peep out here. Less phenolic and certainly less salty with water.

Comments: Simple stuff, but simply pleasurable. This puts me in mind of the erstwhile Caol Ila Cask Strength, which was likely younger but just as powerful; it’s also not very far away from young bourbon cask Laphroaig in its phenolic punch. And it makes me wish I still had a bottle of that one and think that a bottle of this one (since sold out) would have been a fine consolation prize.

Rating: 87 points.

Thanks to Florin for the sample!

3 thoughts on “Caol Ila 10, 2000 (Berry Bros. and Rudd)

  1. And here are my notes on this whisky, in all there incoherentness:

    There’s something about these Islay whiskies… If drunk side-by-side with Laphroaig CS it would be found wanting, but on its own — it’s very good! Nose: clean, cereals, some peat, lifted, a little lemon peel. Palate: very consistent with the nose, no surprises here. Pleasant radiating sweetness due to the cask strength. A little young; the cask is not in the foreground. Balanced, but subdued. Finish: medium length, fresh, a little hot. After the bottle has been open for a while it becomes much better. It’s edgy, like Caol Ilas tend to be, but with lots of depth and vigor. On some days it benefits from a bit of sherried whisky. Conversely, it can be used to add peat to other whiskies. Very versatile! Retaste 8/5/13 – Great whisky, on par with best Islay whisky I’ve tasted. Need to get another bottle. Upgraded grade from 3.5* to 4*.

    PS: I did buy another bottle!
    PPS: Did you see the color of this thing? *That’s* how whisky is supposed to look like, like a rich white wine, not like Fanta!


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