Much like older Laphroaig, older Caol Ila is becoming hard to find, despite the absolutely gargantuan output of the Islay distillery. This is unsurprising as Diageo has largely cut off independent bottlers due to their own expanding requirements for peated malt. But every so often casks still slip into the marketplace that aren't astronomically expensive, despite the eye-popping price tags on even sub-10 year old Caol Ila right now.
This whisky was distilled on January 24th 1995, filled into a hogshead, then bottled on September 30th 2015 at 54.4% without coloring or chill filtration in an outturn of 237 bottles for K&L Wines.
Thanks to Florin for the sample.
Signatory Un-Chillfiltered Collection Caol Ila 20 Year 1995/2015 Cask #445 for K&L Wines
Nose: moderately strong oak, cedar, caramel, gentle sea air, soft Caol Ila peat, soft coal smoke, pine needles, creamy berries. After adding a few drops of water the aromas lose most of their oomph, leaving a washed-out nose that's mostly oak.
Taste: moderate cask strength sweetness up front, quickly joined by a thick layer of oak with berry undertones that persists to the back, not overly tannic, with classic Caol Ila peat and pine dancing through the wood. After dilution the sweetness and oak become brighter, but the peat and berries mostly disappear until the finish.
Finish: solid oak, pine resin, peat
Looking at both the color of the whisky and the flavors and aromas, this was a relatively active hogshead. While less oaky than the 2012 unpeated release I recently reviewed, it feels like a toned down version of that with the peat added back in. While I think it's a solid cask and doesn't have any overt flaws, it doesn't really have the complexity that would have made me want to shell out $150 when it was available. I need to re-try them to be sure, but this doesn't seem to be bringing a lot to the table that can't be found in any of the official Caol Ilas for less money.
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