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Thursday, December 28, 2023

Caol Ila 14 year old 2005 Gordon & MacPhail, cask 17600504

(Caol Ila cluster homepage)

So far from G&M: a refill butt that read like a first fill, and first fill butts that tasted like refills. Today's G&M CI twist? A refill sherry hoggie! Ah yes, the spice of life......or the spice of an aggressively toasted cask? Which will it be?

This is the first of a trilogy of Caol Ilas that I split with Mr. Opinions early in the Covid Age. The other two will follow...

Distillery: Caol Ila
Region: Islay
Owner: Diageo
Independent Bottler: Gordon & MacPhail
Range: Connoisseurs Choice
Age: 14 years (21 February 2005 - 3 April 2019)
Maturation: refill sherry hogshead
Cask #: 17600504 - Batch 19/052
Outturn: 327 bottles
Exclusive to: US market
Alcohol by Volume: 55.6%
(Many thanks to My Annoying Opinions!)


This one's nose elicited a Kool Aid Man's "Oh Yeah" from me upon the first sniff. It starts with brine, moss, and oysters. Then lemon bars, mint leaf, and bay leaf. A little bit of cocoa powder in the background too. The VERY lemony palate dishes out mild sweets and peats. Tart raspberries rolled in fruity cinnamon. Sea salt and a dash of bitter herbs. It finishes with lemons and dried herbs, and a killer combo of sweet, salt, and soot.

DILUTED to ~46%abv, or 1¼ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

The nose shifts a little bit here. Dried apricots and a hint of lychee meet butterscotch and a whiff of toffee. Something like peated fennel seed floats through the background. This diluted palate is more "-er" than the neat one, as in sweeter, bitterer, sharper, inkier, and seaweedier. Moderate sooty peat meets perky sweet citrus in the finish.


This gets very close to Goldilocks territory. (Goldie hit the Caol Ila pretty hard after her long prison stint for B&E.) It's just right. The spirit is older now, holding onto its pleasures while beginning to soften and take on subtle notes from the cask. I would have adored a bottle of this, so cough it up, Opinions, I know you have another one in there! The price was high, but so is the quality.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - $140, I think
Rating - 89