Caol Ila 2003 (Adelphi)

Review 2017-048 «Specifics» Single malt • Vintage 2003 • Bottled in 2016  • Matured for 13 years in an undisclosed cask (#301264) • 58.9% Alcohol • Non-chill filtered • Natural coloured • Sourced from Caol Ila (Islay, Scotland) • Bottled by Adelphi (AD) • Ardnamurchan • Scotland • Limited availability (280 bottles) • Difficult to find (price €110-130) • Whiskybase #88088

STORY. Adephi possesses a rich history within the world of whisky. First the name of a large distillery at Loch Katrine on the banks of the river Clyde (1826-1932), it was resurrected in 1993 as an independent bottler with the ‘Dancey Man’  as their symbol. Adelphi successfully gained a reputation as a selector of high quality bottlings among single malt whisky fans. The global demand for their spirit that was so high that the owners of Adelphi decided to turn back to distilling. In 2014 Ardnamurchan Distillery was opened in the county of Glenbeg in the Scottish highlands and the circle was fully rounded. Adelphi have released their share of Caol Ila of the years (32 in total) with an incredible mean score @Whiskybase of 87.6. So expectations are raising to high levels @WhiskyWobbles!



APPEARANCE. Classy and stylish design, colour of the contents is like pale gold and seems naturally coloured.

NOSE. Surprisingly ashy for a Caol Ila. Not that much peat, in stead I find coal dust, prickling smoke blown in your face from a bonfire, cigarette ashes, smoked leather, mixed with citrus fruits (luckily we got that last bit). Needs water, although I get more citrus fruits and some  sweetness after a while. (water) Tamed it becomes saltier and much more complex. Salty liquorice, some aniseed, fresh resin from pine trees, pine tree bonfires, smoked lime skin popsicles (when are going to produce them?), lovely sweet fire smoke from freshly lit garden bonfires, tiger balsam, flickering lemon scented candles, and smoked herbs.

TASTE. Licking an ashtray with cigarette left overs while the stove blows a cloud of coal dust in your mouth. After that settles, lemon and lime juice, fresh oranges, and lots of tar. Are we sure they did not accidentally put Ardbeg in this? Really unusual Caol Ila for me. (water) Settles down with a lovely complexity. The smoky, ashy and tarry side intertwines nicely with the herbs and the citrus fruits. Smoked rosemary, smoked lemon skin, white pepper, hint of nutmeg, roasted paprika, and roasted almonds.

VERDICT. Alternative side to the expected peaty side of Caol ILa. At least, it proves that I have not gone my way around enough Caol Ila’s to know all its aliases. Good selection by Adelphi, nonetheless, as we come to expect from them.

Recommended for one who want to switch their Caol Ila the peat for more smoke.

Many thanks to Norbert for the sample!

«What others say»

  • @Whiskybase: Mean score of 86.13 (10 votes)
  • @Whiskyfun: “Excellent young/middle-aged Caol Ila, already complex” Score: 88/100
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