...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, December 29, 2023

Caol Ila 14 year old 2003 Gordon & MacPhail, batch 18/005

(Caol Ila cluster homepage)

There have been a lot of sherry casks in this Caol Ila mini-cluster, so today's single malt, honed in a first-fill bourbon barrel, may be a nice change of pace. I'm hoping the 14 years it spent in American oak was enough time for the spirit develop, but so much that the barrel overwhelms its contents.

Sorry, that's it for the brilliant intro today, I've got two more CIs to consume!

Distillery: Caol Ila
Region: Islay
Owner: Diageo
Independent Bottler: Gordon & MacPhail
Range: Connoisseurs Choice
Age: 14 years (2003 - 9 March 2018)
Maturation: first-fill bourbon barrel
Cask #: Batch 18/005
Outturn: 192 bottles
Exclusive to: US market
Alcohol by Volume: 56%
(bottle split with My Annoying Opinions)


Yep, big spirit and big oak in the nose. There's the brine, seaweed, soot, and crumbling old rubber on one level; cinnamon roll, shortbread biscuits, and vanilla bean on another; lemon vinaigrette and orange marmalade on a third. Warm beachy peat meets sugar cookies in the palate, with hints of cream soda and raspberry jam in the background. It finishes similarly, with the berry fruitiness and beachy peat. It gains more seaweed with time.

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

Here are the nose notes in the order they arrived: soot, cream soda, fennel seed, new sneakers, and biscotti. There's a pair of pairs in the palate: vanilla ice cream and eucalyptus, then cherry cough syrup and a cigarette. It finishes with more salt and pepper on the peat, and a dash of almond extract.


This cask got really close to being overbaked. Thankfully, Caol Ila's stills cranked out a powerful poison that didn't collapse under the barrel char. It is more of a dessert CI than anything else. One could match it with Walker's shortbread, or dark chocolate and dried fruit, or all the above.

Tomorrow: another first-fill bourbon barrel, with two more years on it. Will it survive? Stay tuned.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - ???
Rating - 86