A lineup of Caol Ilas

Sitting, standing, sipping Caol Ila at Cafe Herman

It’s always nice to taste different expressions from the same distillery side by side. It’s interesting to find the similarities and differences. I had the opportunity to taste 3 different Caol Ilas last night, 2 were from the same bottler, the same age, same alcohol strength, from sister casks, and a much older one from another bottler at a lower strength than the other 2. The first one up for discussion, was a 25y from Berry Bros. and Rudd based at 3 St James’s Street in London since 1698. It was distilled in 1982, and bottled in 2007 from casks numbers 727 and 728 at 46%. I left the glass emptied for about 30 minutes this time. Warm or burnt copper wires came first, interesting, and fruity wax drifted in just after. The smoke was quite subtle, and wet, freshly and cleanly cut, dark green grass was prominent. Sweet subtle smoke and sweet malt finished everything off. Quite interesting indeed. Following this were the 2, 12y sister casks from the Dun Bheagan bottler: cask numbers 7244 and 7247, and 7248 and 7251, both yielding 1,920 bottles and at 55%. First up of the 2 was the bottle from cask numbers 7244/7247 which gave me first a slight hint of perfume, not pretty or flowery or very feminine but nor was it cheap either, pleasant. This was immediately followed by hints of the bourbon cask I’m assuming it was from. Not overpowering, just a slight nod and recognition of bourbon, and each time I nosed the empty glass I found the same. I also got sweet dusty damp wood notes, a hint of sweet manure, like that can be found in old Ardbegs, and even perfectly cooked scrambled eggs. Is that possible? And sweet custard too. A bit of Band-Aid too, medicinal notes you might say. And finally those warm thin copper wires were also there, reminiscent of a child’s electric train or race car set. On to the other 12y bottle from cask numbers 7248 and 7251. This one shed some model glue and even plastic from that model. This, the new plastic, for me points again to a bourbon cask. Those warm copper wires crept in again, making me think I’ve been either brainwashed or I’ve discovered a distillery characteristic from Caol Ila.

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