...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Single Malt Report: Caol Ila 12 year old 1999 Gordon & MacPhail

In contrast to yesterday's post, I don't have a dozen introductory paragraphs for this whisky.  There are too few Caol Ila reviews on this site and even fewer G&M reviews.  I must get to work on that.  This sample was obtained via a swap with My Annoying Opinions.  And guess what?  We're posting simultaneously on this same whisky bottle right now!  And......here's the link to his review.

MAO's bottle
Distillery: Caol Ila
Independent Bottler: Gordon & MacPhail
Series: Cask Strength Collection
Age: 12 years (August 17, 1999 - September 19, 2011)
Maturation: first fill sherry cask
Cask number305326
Region: Islay
Alcohol by Volume: 61.6%

The color is medium gold.  In the nose, yep, definitely some sulphur up this sherry butt.  While it's there, it's not a dealbreaker since it just provides one of many elements.  There's a Fritos note, but I'm thinking that's connected to the sulphur as well.  Then there's bacon, fresh plums, honey, and nutty sherry.  Sounds like a party.  That's followed by old sweat and urine.  Sounds like a party.  On the palate, the sulphur reads as struck matches, gunpowder, and rock salt.  Then there's soil, ham, sneaker peat, chlorine, and cotton shirt.  It goes sweet → salty.  The finish has the sulphur and peat moss, chlorine and a light sweetness.  After a while, a big sherry burst erupts.

WITH WATER (approx. 46% ABV)
The nose is actually very similar and keeps its vibrancy.  Some more sherry, anise, dirt, and hay have crept in.  The sulphur note is a lot like spent paper caps.  Still has the Fritos note, which has combined with wood smoke.  Also urine.  The palate has changed a bit.  Burnt grasses and herbs.  More moss.  Same gunpowder.  Goes tart → peppery → sweet.  Lots of hay and moss in the finish, followed by sugar and gunpowder.

With its sherry, sulphur, and peat moss this whisky reminded me of the infamous Blackadder baby Ledaig I'd opened up last August.  This Caol Ila is twice as old as that one and, while still pretty zany, feels more pulled together.  The sherry is much brighter, that's for sure.  The palate feels flat underneath the sulphur, though water helps a little; and the finish was so-so.  Overall, while the whisky's not exactly my poison, it's still very entertaining.

Availability - Might be sold out
Pricing - whiskybase says that it was 56GBP or 70euros
Rating - 82


  1. Replies
    1. Obviously this needs to go into arbitration. I'm selflessly offering my services.

    2. Me too. I would also love to chime in on this one.

    3. How could you miss all that urine? Your membership to the Piss Sniffing Society has been suspended. Turn in your badge and sealed samples.

    4. Boys, boys, settle down.

      This is certainly very interesting. While the scores are close, you and MAO's tasting notes could be describing two different whiskies.

    5. I don't know about that, Eric.

      On the nose, Michael notes: bacon, plums, honey, sulphur; I note: ham, raisins, citrus, rubber. Not identical, but not so very far apart either.

      On the palate we have more differences but also some similarities: Michael finds sweetness and salt going tart, peppery and sweet with water; I find it sweet with increasing saltiness without water as well and see the salt being pushed back with water too. His tart notes are not unrelated to the citrus I find.

      Obviously, I find more citrus/apricot than he does; and while I note a lot of peat and smoke and barely remark the sulphur the opposite is true for him. So, yes, some important differences, but a lot of similarities too. The main difference probably is that I have a pretty high sulphur tolerance---as I recall we had very different takes on two other sulphury whiskies as well: the Blackadder Ledaig 6, 2005 and an Old Malt Cask Brora 21, 1981.

    6. Maybe I'm sensitive. That's what The Coopered Tot always says on Twitter.

    7. Hmm, I guess it does come down to the sulfur factor. Take that away and the whisky notes line up more

  2. Cat urine, sulpher and vomit are some of my favorite whisky flavors. ;) Now I want to try it even more. Strange how that is. It's like when someone asks you to smell something and you know its going to be horrible. Are you the type of person who still wants to smell it just to see for yourself.