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Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Caol Ila 11 year old 2009 North Star Spirits

The original plan was to review four North Star Spirits malts this week, but the Clynelish didn't quite follow the script. So now I'm down to three: one youngin' and two oldies. It has also been brought to my attention (by me) that I haven't written about a Caol Ila in nearly 16 months. So here we go, one single sherry cask of Caol Ila!

Distillery: Caol Ila
Region: Islay
Owner: Diageo
Independent Bottler: North Star Spirits
Range: Cask Series 011
Age: 11 years (Sept 2009 - Oct 2020)
Maturation: first fill sherry butt
Outturn: 410 (possibly part of a bottle split?)
Alcohol by Volume: 58.2%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No
(from a bottle split)


Ocean, bacon and band-aids (Spring Break, bruh, amirite?) on the nose. Peaches and almond butter fill in the midground, hints of iron and lemon in the background. The zippy, zesty palate is almost effervescent, glowing with sooty peat, herbal peat, citrus peels and salt. Lemons and soot take over the finish, with chiles and salt around the edges.

I'm not going to water this one down too much.

DILUTED TO ~50%abv, or 1 tsp of water per 30mL whisky

More of the ocean, mixed with wet peat, leads the nose now. Soil, mint leaves and newspaper print appear after some time. The palate loses none of its power. More chiles and more earth up front. Salt and lemons highlight the rest. The finish might be a little shorter, and slightly heavier on the chiles, but it matches the neat finish otherwise.


There aren't many better contemporary whiskies than proper Caol Ila sherry casks. This one sticks the landing, then shouts about it. Angus calls it, "Kind of like a bar brawl captured in a tasting glass," and I think I can allow that poetry today. Really, this is an excellent enormous whisky that would thump any of CI's Islay cousins' special releases.

Availability - Gone :(
Pricing - was under €80 two years ago (yeah, we missed it)
Rating - 90