Caol Ila 2005 (Gordon & MacPhail)

Review 2017-050 «Specifics» Single malt • Cask Strength Series • Vintage 2005 • Bottled in 2016 • 56.8% Alcohol • Matured for 11 years in first-fill sherry butts (#301522 + #301530 + #301532) • Non-chill filtered • Natural coloured • Sourced from Caol Ila (Islay, Scotland) • Bottled by Gordon & MacPhail (GM) • Elgin • Scotland • Limited availability (undisclosed number of bottles) • Still available (price €65-70) • Whiskybase #94510

STORY. Some tasting notes ago we had Gordon & Macphail’s Caol Ila from a bourbon cask (scored at 85.6%). Within this review we will have another G&M, but this time from a sherry cask. I have read several positive comments on several of these cask strength sherried Caol Ila’s from G&M, so I am curious to compare it with its bourbon cask sister. They say sherry and peat can form an excellent combination…


APPEARANCE. Classic and recognizable design, colour of the contents is light copper and is natural coloured (with some genuine cask sediments).

NOSE. We have got a lot of peat smoke with a clear sweat side to it. Raisins, ham, and seafood are heavily smoked on the barbecue. Furthermore, deep notes of cinnamon, gingerbread, and strong coffee. The sherry is not too dominant and it brings a dirty, muddish side to the whole. In addition, there are also some mineral notes along with the scent of fresh shrimps and kippers. (water) This brings more sherry now with dark chocolate, cinnamon and pepper. Also increasingly coastal with more mineral notes of sea water, smoked salmon and beach side bonfires.

TASTE. Sweet peat, spices and a clear sherry influence for starters. Then bakery powder, pepper, salt and mud. Really lots of lovely mud, which gives this a nice dirty palate. There is a hint of sea water and beach sand, but spices and mud are most prominent. (water) Saltier, more peat, seafood, leather, old books and cow sheds are brought by dilution. Don’t be too shy with water, it can take quite some. The dirty, muddy style remains, as are the strong spices. I can only find the notes of citrus fruits, which are so typical for Caol Ila, in the back. Lovely dirt though.

VERDICT. This is not easy peaty citrussy Caol Ila, eminent peat and a strong sherry are clearly playing the first violins. The clash of the two is beautiful, though, and this is a very fine example of how well peat and sherry can go together. For those who like this style, this is a must-buy whisky. Oh, and I do prefer it to the much sweeter bourbon cask G&M.

Recommended for the ones that are not afraid of some dirt occasionally.

Many thanks to Henry for the sample!

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