Special Releases 2016, Caol Ila 15yo

door | november 9, 2020
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Here we go again! Another week, another Diageo Special Releases 2016 sample. We have to be cautious not to get too used to it, because we only have a few more samples to go… Today we review number seven in our list. We’re tasting a 15yo unpeated Caol Ila.


After last weeks Lagavulin sample this again is an Islay whisky we’re reviewing. The Caol Ila distillery was founded in 1846 near Port Askaig in the north east part of the Island. It’s best known for it’s lightly peated, smoky whisky’s. The official 12yo and 18yo are well respected and so is the 25yo. In 2007 the first unpeated Caol Ila was released. It was an 8yo whisky that immediately won Best Islay Unpeated Whisky under 12yo at the World Whisky Awards.

Peter and I both have tasted a few Caol Ila expressions earlier. Of course we both have had one or two 12yo bottles in our collection. Besides that we’ve also tasted a few indepenently bottled whisky’s. In fact, I have an 18yo Caol Ila, bottled by Berry Brothers & Rudd in my collection right now. That particular whisky was bottled at 40%. This Special Release is bottled at cask strength with an ABV of an amazing 61,5%. It was matured on refill American oak hogsheads and refill European oak butts. I can’t wait to taste this one!

Notes by Peter

  • Nose: It starts with a lot of alcohol but gets softer after a while. Fresh, lemon, hay and a bit smoke and nuts.
  • Taste: Warm and full, malt, lemon and grapefruit. Fresh and bitter with a bit of sweetness, very nice! 
  • Finish: Long, peppery and fresh grapefruit.  

 I’m surprised with this one and I really like it! If I have the opportunity, I’ll taste it again.

Notes by Jeroen

  • Nose: I’ve never had an unpeated Caol Ila before so this is really unusual to me. It gives me a chance to find out more about the “typical” distillery character. The nose is fresh, creamy and a bit of a malty sweetness. Some citrus (lemon) pops up as well.
  • Taste: Be carefull with the first sip. The high ABV might seem a bit powerfull but if you keep it in your mouth for a little while some nice aromas come to the surface. Again there is some lemon here together with the malty sweetness I picked up in the nose.
  • Finish: Nice length but strangely enough I can’t point out which aroma remains. Some freshness, just a bit sweet but what is it? Then I get it. At least I think I do. Mints maybe? I’m just not sure.

I’m sorry but this is not my favorite Caol Ila expression. It sure is nice to have the chance to try it but if I buy a bottle of Caol Ila I’ll buy one in the peated style.

Thanks Diageo Netherlands for giving us the opportunity to taste an unpeated Caol Ila.

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