Here’s a 19 yo Caol Ila bottled several years ago by the Whisky Exchange for their annual Whisky Show. That’s it, that’s the introduction.
Caol Ila 19 (55.9%; The Whisky Exchange for the Whisky Show, 2012; single bourbon cask; from my own bottle)
Nose: Ah yes, this is one of those “Port Ellen, who?” Caol Ilas. Lemon, oyster liquor, kelp, green olive brine, mineral smoke: it’s all here. A couple of minutes later there’s some ash and smouldering leaves mixed in with the mineral smoke, giving it a slightly bitter, vegetal quality. A few drops of water and it’s a mix of citronella, ash and vanilla-cream.
Palate: As predicted by the nose but with more phenols in the smoke and some sweeter notes as I swallow (vanilla). Gets more acidic as it sits and the leafy note from the nose begins to make its way to the palate as well. More acid with water—more preserved than fresh lemon now—and the phenols back off a bit (the ash doesn’t though).
Finish: Long. The smoke gets more phenolic and ashy and the sweetness keeps pace before yielding to salt at the end. More vanilla and some cream with time—like smoke-infused panna cotta. As on the palate with water.
Comments: Lovely, elegant whisky, as most ex-bourbon Caol Ilas in their late teens are. The nose was great from the get-go—the palate fell just a bit short of that. I have a feeling this will improve further as the bottle stays open—I’ll report on developments.
Rating: 89 points.