Saturday, March 5, 2011

Review: Old Master's Caol Ila 12

Old Master's Caol Ila 12
Price:  $90
Strength:  59.8%

It can be confusing to peruse a store shelf of independently bottled whiskies such as those put out by Old Master's, Duncan Taylor, and Douglas Laing.  There can be a large variety of ages and prices, and often from distilleries that are closed or don't put out official bottlings.  Search the web and you'll be lucky to find any tasting notes.  Attending tastings for independent bottlers is necessary to make educated purchases and a great way to find otherwise unknown gems.  Old Master's Caol Ila 12, non chill-filtered and bottled at a hefty 59.8 %, is one such gem.

The great characteristic of this whisky is its incredible texture: fantastically oily and mouth-coating.  You can smell the oils in the whisky, and on the palate it sticks to the roof of your mouth.  If this is not the best textured whisky I've tasted, then it is among the best along with Ardbeg 10 and Balvenie 15.  On top of this oily base are a great combination of peat and butterscotch.  The peat is big but not youthful tasting at all, and it sits beautifully on top of that oily texture.  The butterscotch is most evident on the nose and balances well with the peat.  A medium smoke comes through on the finish, but it fades leaving just the sense of sucking on a Werther's Original toffee.  97 points (A+).

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  1. I'm really getting interested in independent bottlings's a bit confusing, and requires, I think, a bit more research and label reading, but there's simply so much amazing stuff out there from these bottlers...oddball one offs, matured, cask strength offerings, stuff from long since mothballed distilleries. I've enjoyed stuff from Gordon and MacPhail's and Douglas Laing several times, and there are a few more highly reputable ones out there.

    I still feel more than a bit of shame from going to the Douglas Laing table at WAGG in 2009 and sampling a 30 year old Glen Grant, without knowing the slightest thing about what it actually was. Who is Douglas Laing? What is Glen Grant? 30 years old, that must be a typo. Sigh...but at least I know now, and I'm really enthused about trying more independent bottlings.

  2. I also think the ambassadors for the independent bottlers are more interested in educating the drinker, especially since most of their bottles are non chill-filtered. They have more at stake in their single malt whiskies than Diageo, and it shows in their better tastings. However, a lot of the bottles are pretty expensive too.

  3. Does anyone know where you can buy this online? I can't seem to find anyone who sells it.