Have I ever done a Caol Ila week before? Well, I’m going to do one now. The plan had been to start with a 15 yo G&M cask, then the 16 yo Feis Ile 2020 and finally the 25 yo from 2018/2019. Then I discovered last week that while I’d listed it among potential reviews for both February and March, I had in fact already reviewed the Feis Ile 2020 in January! I’m totally on top of things. To keep the age progression intact I’ve moved the G&M 15 yo to Wednesday and am instead beginning the week with an 11 yo bottled by a new ‘ish outfit named James Eadie. As per Whiskybase, they’ve been bottling their releases since 2016 but there seems to have been an uptick in the last few years. If you know more about them, please write in below. They seem to have released at least a few finished whiskies. This Caol Ila is one of them. It spent 3 months in a first-fill amontillado sherry cask—a detail that is refreshingly noted on the label of the bottle. Sherried Caol Ila can be very good indeed but a Caol Ila with a short sherry finish? Let’s see.
Caol Ila 11, 2008 (54.1%; James Eadie; cask 356845, amontillado hogshead finish; from a bottle split)
Nose: Bright sherry-modulated smoke; which is to say, ashy with sweet accents. Some youthful notes below—light hints of mezcal and paraffin. On the second sniff it’s a bit spicier (ginger) and more acidic (lemon heading to citronella). As it sits it gets saltier and then there’s some red fruit—cherry? Water integrates and mellows things a bit.
Palate: Comes in hot but not unapproachable with a similar mix of ashy smoke and sweet and spicy accents as on the nose. A bigger bite than might be indicated by the strength. No sherry separation, I am pleased to say—in fact, it’s quite well integrated. More salt and then some cracked pepper as it sits and the smoke gets first pricklier and then more phenolic. Okay, let’s add water. Water emphasizes both the sweetness and the cracked pepper.
Finish: Long. No sherry separation here either and also nothing new. The salt and pepper and prickly smoke are the major notes as it fades out. Mellower here too with water.
Comments: As young sherry-finished peated whisky goes, this is very good. The sherry doesn’t feel bolted on; indeed, I wouldn’t have been surprised to have been told it was a full-term refill sherry matured cask. Not a whole lot of complexity but I imagine that might develop with time and air if you have a full bottle.
Rating: 86 points.