Here’s a whisky review on a Thursday for a change. And it’s another Caol Ila—roughly the same age as the previous Caol Ila I reviewed, but distilled just about a decade later. This was bottled by Signatory for K&L in California. As I am generally a sucker for bourbon cask Caol Ila, I was intrigued by it when it was announced, but the high asking price ($150 or so) took care of that. Fortunately (for me, at least), Florin (Slovenian supermodel and future First Lady) purchased a bottle and shared samples with a few of us—see Jordan D’s review of a sample from this same bottle from a year ago. Jordan didn’t care for it overmuch, and nor did Florin (see his comment on Jordan’s review). But there are others who rave about it. Anyway, the easiest way to find out is to pour the sample and drink it. Here goes.
Caol Ila 20, 1995 (54.4%; Signatory, hogshead #445 for K&L; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Mild smoke with cream, almond oil, kelp and a bit of lemon. In other words, very Caol Ila. Loses oomph with time though and nothing new emerges. Water brings all the good stuff back and there’s a bit of baked apple now.
Palate: Sharper smoke here followed by the lemon and something leafy. The whole feels sharper and thinner. With time there’s cracked black pepper and spicy oak (not tannic) but that’s about it for new developments. Gets thinner and thinner as it goes. Let’s see if water rescues it from mediocrity. Nope. Well, the oak gets pushed back a bit but it’s still too sharp without any interesting counterpoint.
Finish: Long. Pepper, sharp smoke, oak. Longer with water but not better.
Comments: I quite liked the nose; the palate was a letdown from the get-go. If the mellow peat from the nose had not been trumped by the spicy oak it would have been a different matter. It’s drinkable enough but, for what this is, the asking price was way too high and I’m very glad I was not tempted to pay it.
Rating: 82 points.
Thanks to Florin for the sample and for taking the hit!