Caol Ila

Caol Ila 12 Years Old

Caol Ila 12 Years Old (43%, OB, 2017)

  • Category: Islay single malt Scotch whisky
  • Origin: Caol Ila distillery
  • Bottling: Diageo
  • ABV: 43%
  • Cost: £43.96

Caol Ila 12 Year Old image courtesy of Master of Malt

What they say

Caol Ila 12 year old Single Malt Scotch Whisky is the colour of pale straw, with a delicate balance of tastes. Bursting with powerful flavour, Caol Ila Scotch does justice to its Islay home.

Official tasting notes:

  • Appearance: Pale straw.
  • Nose: Subdued, citric fruitiness; a whiff of bath oil and dentist’s mouthwash. A fresh and appetising nose, with little or no trace of smoke. A little water raises almond oil and old fashioned oilskins; still a fresh fruitiness (lychees?), a trace of olive oil, and after a while potpourri or scented hand-soap.
  • Palate: Body is smooth, pleasant mouth-feel: firm with a light to medium body. Drinks well at natural strength; sweet start; pleasant, light fragrant smokiness and a lengthy finish.
  • Finish: Sweet smokiness in the lingering, slightly sour finish.

What I say

Sampled as part of our Back 2 Basics 2018 schedule, visiting or revisiting many old favourites that represent the staple of their distillery’s expressions.

The Caoli Ila range now starts with the No age statement Caol Ila Moch, however back in 2002 this 12 Year old was launched and for a long time stood as the basic Caol Ila expression. Distilled at Caol Ila on Islay with peated malted barley most likely from Port Ellen maltings on the island which is also owned/operated by Diageo. Matured for a minimum of 12 years in ex-bourbon casks stored centrally due to lack of warehouse space at Caol Ila itself.

My tasting notes:

  • Appearance: Straw Gold (10/20), quick medium-sized tears leave tapered legs
  • Nose: Distinct mossy peat, sweet vanilla custard, floral and perfumed before becoming peaty, fusty and musty, lanolin, almond milk, slightly nutty, condensed milk with a touch of herbal hickory wood.
  • Taste: Full-bodied, thick and oily, toffee, caramel, malted barley then tar and smoke, mossy peat, a touch of salt and sweet condensed milk, treacle toffee, earthy; mint leaf, chocolate, nut, germolene (sweet/antiseptic), beech-wood smoked ham.
  • Finish: Long, sweet, smoke, shellfish; smoked scallops or mussels and nutella chocolate and hazelnut spread.


A wonderful expression full of mossy and earthy peat, which not only brings smoke but also accentuates an earthiness on the palate which is really the highlight for me.

Score 84/100

Available from Master of Malt and The Whisky Exchange

Don’t take my word for it:

TOModera’s Whisky Reviews Caol Ila 12 Year Old

Bloggers submit link to your review

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.