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Saturday, December 30, 2023

Caol Ila 16 year old 2002 Gordon & MacPhail, cask 8380

(Caol Ila cluster homepage)

After a slew of sherry cask Caol Ilas, this cluster's final three members are sherry-less. Yesterday's first-fill bourbon barrel was a sweetie pie. Tomorrow's refill hoggie is ??????. Today's CI comes from another first-fill barrel, and I'm really hoping the US oak doesn't overpower the Islay goodness. Wish me luck.....

Distillery: Caol Ila
Region: Islay
Owner: Diageo
Independent Bottler: Gordon & MacPhail
Range: Connoisseurs Choice
Age: 16 years (9 September 2002 - 23 April 2019)
Maturation: first-fill bourbon barrel
Cask #: 8380
Outturn: 206 bottles
Exclusive to: US market
Alcohol by Volume: 54.9%
(bottle split with My Annoying Opinions)


Ah, different than yesterday's barrel. The peat takes front stage in the nose with ocean, seaweed, earth, and a slight vegetal edge. Notes of orange peel, biscotti, and blueberry scone brighten and expand the experience. Biscotti shows up again the palate, along with almond butter, but it's the pristine combination of salt, wood smoke, and lime that lead the way. The long finish is all kiln, salt, and lime.

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

The barrel sneaks up a little more at this dilution level. The nose now offers sugar cookies, cloves, black walnuts, and gentler peat. The palate becomes sootier and meatier, with more citrus and pepper. It finishes mossy, salty, tangy, and savory.


Classic Islay. Yeah, that's a generic conclusion, but this Caol Ila is comforting, familiar, reliable, and very good. I prefer it neat, where its leanness works best on my palate. The salt + kiln notes provide a strong frame for the other characteristics that pass through. It must be a great whisky to enjoy during an evening at the beach.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - ???
Rating - 88