Caol Ila 12 vs Caol Ila 12

Not so long ago, we had an opportunity to enjoy a special bottling of Caol Ila 1997 from Gordon & MacPhail’s Connoisseurs Choice range. Bottled in 2009, this made the delightful whisky a 12 year…

Which reminded me that I’ve been meaning to pull out my standard Caol Ila 12 year for a proper tasting for quite some time. If you can believe it, a bottle has been kicking around my whisky cabinet at the ready to join an impromptu party or sociable occasion for more than a year… seriously.

Much as I enjoy a good dram in convivial settings, when it comes to tasting notes, I prefer focusing on the whisky alone either in a very small group of fellow whisky aficionados or solo. And for whatever inexplicable reason, those moments haven’t turned attention to my neglected Caol Ila.

Until a few nights ago on my own and again last night at an insanely enjoyable inaugural ‘Whisky Ladies’ evening in Mumbai.

Caol Ila 12 year (Whisky Lady)

Caol Ila 12 year (Whisky Lady)

Caol Ila 12 year 43%

  • Colour – Bright cheerful yellow straw
  • Nose – Honey, lemon, vanilla, a curl of peat, pear, a little curd
  • Palate – Welcome to the embrace of our old pal peat! A little spice, some sea salt to accompany the smoke, there is subtle substance to the body, a little oil, simple enveloping you in whisky warmth
  • Finish – Yes it is there… smokey, peppery yet surprisingly soft too
  • Water – Can add a drop or two but not necessary

I find the Caol Ila 12 one of those absolutely dependable and under-rated Islay whiskies. It has that characteristic peaty element however without the dramatic boldness found in some Islays. While more subdued, it is also more balanced.

In short, it is one you can reach out for and simply enjoy.

And I realised anew why this whisky was one of my early staples… as in back in the day when I’d had little exposure to the world of whisky. Blame the Caol Ila among a few others for getting me hooked on to exploring more about this elixir of the gods.

I also can see why this whisky appeals to a desi palate… after all it is a key element in the ever popular Indian favourite Johnnie Walker Black Label. And if any of you remember that vatted malt Green Label? Yup! Once again – think Caol Ila.

As for the Gordon & MacPhail bottle that prompted my pulling out this Caol Ila for a revisit? Believe it or not I had a few wee drops squirrelled away just to compare.

Without a doubt the same family, however the Gordon & MacPhail Caol Ila 12 year is a more mellow, more complex, more nuanced single malt and takes everything I enjoy about Caol Ila and makes it more exquisitely etched… like bringing an appealing slightly blurry photo into rich focus.

Here’s what others say about the Caol Ila 12 year:

From time to time, you can also find other whisky related updates and activities on:

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