Caol Ila 10 Years Old 2003 – Cask Strength

Islay single malt scotch whisky

59.6% ABV, £53.95 available from Royal Mile Whiskies

Score: 86/100

CaolIlaCS2003GM

What they say:

A 2003 vintage Caol Ila released by independent bottlers Gordon & MacPhail as part of the Cask Strength Series. Distilled on September 10, this was aged for 10 years in a trio of refill sherry butts before being bottled at 59.6% on August 13 2014. Cask Nos. 302381, 302382 & 302833

Nose:  Meat aromas with hints of banana and fruit cake.

Taste: The palate is sweet and spicy with fruit flavours.

Finish: An underlying peat smoke edge lingers.

CI2003CS

What I say:

The 5th and final dram at the Water of Life Society ‘The Blender’s Malts’ tasting on 29th January 2015. This Caol Ila was married from 3 sherry butts and bottled at the resulting married strength (or ‘Cask’ strength) i.e. without dilution by Gordon & MacPhail. Officially 10 years old as it was bottled about a month under 11 years.

Colour:

Copper amber gold (9/20)

Nose:

Sweet peanut/satay and ripe banana, peaty, germolene, iodine and sticking plasters, briny sea salt, ashy cigarette smoke, beach bonfire/bbq, smokey bacon

Taste:

Spicy, mesquite, chilli pepper, tabasco, peaty ash, earthy and dusty, cereal barley malt, some raisin, fig and fruit cake mix

Finish:

Long, peaty, and salty ash

Overall:

A powerful dram from Caol Ila bottled by Gordon & MacPhail. I guess this is almost whisky as it is supposed to be. Plenty of Caol Ila character in here tempered a little by what I would guess are refill Sherry butt influences so there is a hint of fruit and possibly tannin but mostly a spiciness that combines excellently with all that peat smoke influence. Another example of why Caol Ila’s whiskies shouldn’t be considered as the ‘forgotten’ blending distillery on Islay. This one is more than equal of some of it’s more popular Kildalton compatriots.