Whisky Review: Caol Ila 18 Year Old

The Caol Ila 18 Year Old is a smooth, warm, well-balanced Islay single malt. The Caol Ila distillery is located near Port Askaig and was founded in 1846 by Hector Henderson. Initially the Caol Ila struggled, and changed hands a couple of times before it was acquired by Bulloch Lade & Co. By the late 19th century, Caol Ila’s fortunes had changed, and the distillery was producing more than a hundred thousand gallons of whisky every year. The Caol Ila 18 Year Old is evocative of the scenic cove where the distillery is located, overlooking the water, with beautiful green hills in the backdrop.

In the bottle, the Caol Ila 18 Year Old is warm gold in colour. When I uncapped the bottle, I was greeted by a nicely blended, warm aroma of peat, flowers, lemon, and apricot, with overtones of burnt oak. There’s something herbal in here too, or maybe that comes from those floral notes I can detect.

The Caol Ila 18 Year Old tastes as smooth as it looks, and despite the presence of peat, it is very well balanced and quite mellow. Beginning whisky drinkers sometimes have difficulty with peat (in fact, some veteran whisky drinkers find it overpowering). Personally, I enjoy peat, but I also like when it doesn’t take over a dram. I can also taste that burnt wood, but I don’t taste the flowers and fruits very clearly. They are probably part of what is balancing out the peat, but they are so well blended it is hard to detect individual notes. There is a sea-like saltiness adding even more flavour.

It’s a very balanced dram featuring a lot of different elements which interact to form a delicious, warm, comforting whole. I think the Caol Ila 18 y.o. would appeal to a lot of different palates, including those who love peat and those who enjoy it, but in moderation only. A great drink for new or veteran whisky connoisseurs. The only drawback is the price, which can range around $100.


Colour: Warm gold.

Nose: Burnt wood, flowers, lemon, apricot, peat.

Palate: Burnt wood, peat, salt, subdued notes of flowers and fruits.

2 thoughts on “Whisky Review: Caol Ila 18 Year Old

  1. I’ve tried the 18 y.o., and it’s magnificent. I’m currently working my way through a bottle of the Caol Ila Distiller’s Edition, and loving every bit of it. Slightly oily texture, nice level of peat without being overwhelming.

  2. Is this an old bottle or have they re-released the 18? They stopped producing the 18 several years ago. It was rumored to be temporary and that they were planning on bringing it back, but I haven’t seen any sign of it in the US.

    I loved the 18 and it was clearly in my top 3 list.

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