Caol Ila 1984 CA

"Easily one of the highlights of my tasting experiences this year and so full full of smells and tastes that it just takes you to another world"

(Photo from Whiskybase)

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The last couple of years, there has been a buzz about some excellent Caol Ila bottlings from Cadenhead that were distilled in 1983 and 1984. Some of these came out around the 175th anniversary of Scotland’s oldest independent bottler, Cadenhead, and all these bottlings were released within the Small Batch range. The specific bottling of Caol Ila of today’s review originates from a single bourbon cask from 1984 and was bottled for Nectar, Belgian’s most famous importer of high quality whisky and other spirits. Well, I can’t wait to taste this, since I am already quite a fan of Caol Ila…


From the word go you get a full nose with thick layers of intense and thorough smoke, surrounded by notes of fresh green fruits, roasted nuts and new cars. The peat smoke has great depth that goes from dry coal dust to greasy burning fat drops on a barbecue and back to slowly roasted paprikas. Once your nose gets used to the intensity (and have given the spirit some time to breathe in the glass), more and more complex notes arise. Beautiful tropical fruits (pine apple, mango, passion fruit), roasted herbs (rosemary and thyme), cow stables on a dry hot day, fresh-from-the-press magazines, tobacco, strong antiseptics, tires, creosote, smoked almonds, smoked lime, wet leaves and cracked pepper all pass by at some moment or another. A nose that delivers so much joy for a whisky enthusiast. 


Smoke hits your tongue and dissolves into all kinds of variations of the same theme. Many shades of peat, coal dust, inhaled bonfire smoke, and roasted versions of herbs, nuts and vegetables. Olive oil, which I lifts the palate after a few minutes and remains to coat the whole of your tongue, and many more roasted and salted nuts. The development is satisfyingly long and reveals more herbs (persil, basil), more smoky nuances, tar and many more, which I forgot to write down because my enjoyment has just risen to new heights. I mean, w-h-a-t-i-s-n-o-t-t-o-l-o-v-e-a-b-o-u-t-t-h-i-s-s-p-i-r-i-t. Long and very pleasant aftertaste that repeats the previous pleasures. The taste probably even surpasses the nose. Just brilliant.


Easily one of the highlights of my tasting experiences this year. So full full of smells and tastes that it just takes you to another world. If it wasn’t for the price, I think some bottles would already have found their way into my cupboard (I keep waiting for them to find their way themselves). I believe that this is why it is so important to sometimes taste whisky from yesteryear: to remind yourself of how amazing this beautiful spirit can be. One other thing, in contrast to some (well, many) younger whiskies that are released, the cask stays gracefully in the background and let the spirit do its thing. Which should be the case when the spirit is this good.

What others say

Whiskybase: 90.84 (60 votes) * @Whiskynotes: 91/100
Read for yourself

More than big thanks for sharing the sample to


these are my personal views, so do not take them too seriously… nothing beats tasting these for yourself •

Cask influence
Nose 91%
Taste 92%
Balance 92%
Depth 92%
Finish 91%