Published on November 26th, 2012 | by Mark


Caol Ila 25 Year Old

The Caol Ila odyssey continues. You can read a bit of an introduction to the distillery in the review of the 1998 Distillers’ Edition, but suffice to say that this is an Islay distillery in pretty loose terms – as soon as the spirit hits the bottom of the barrel, it’s shipped off to the mainland to mature in very unIslay-like conditions. A lot of its production ends up in Diageo blends, but when it flies solo it can be very good indeed.

The Caol Ila 25 Year Old (2010 release), however, came across as not so much of a good thing, so I won’t dwell too long on this one. This has been matured in refill American and European oak casks and is bottled at 43%. (Versions of this from 2004 and 2005 had been available at cask strength.) A bottle will set you back at least £130 – and that’s really not worth it at all.

Colour: apple juice (those cheap cartons, which are probably not actually apple juice at all). On the nose: seductive, smokey monster. A lovely blend of sweetness, syrup, brine, citrus, mellow wood, moving into some very dignified floral, vegetative, and thoroughly earthy stuff. Very inviting.

In the mouth… and it becomes a bit disappointing. Plummy, chewy, with some mellow wood and vanilla, yet ultimately two dimensional. Just seems to lack much of a presence in the mouth. Don’t wish for a hint of oiliness – it’s not to be seen. Smokey? It’s barely smouldering. That dirty sexiness of the 12 Year Old is not to be found.

It’s like you’ve gone on a really promising hot date and five minutes into the conversation you wish were somewhere else instead… Cheque, please!

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About the Author

I'm a genre novelist and digital marketer, and I've written for a range of publications from the Ecologist magazine to BBC Radio 4. I'm also a countryside explorer, tweed lover and whisky addict. Follow me at

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