Caol Ila Distiller’s Edition Review

The Caol Ila Distiller's Edition is a well balanced, smoky malt with raisin spice and excellent balance.

The Caol Ila Distiller’s Edition rounds out the affordable offerings from . Costing around 50 pounds, it sits between the 12 year old at around 35 pounds and the 18 at around 70 pounds.

Other distiller’s editions put out by drinks company Diageo are rather good indeed, such as the Lagavulin Distiller’s Edition and the Oban Distiller’s Edition have been rather good indeed (sadly it appears that there is no edition of the Oban to be released in 2013, as I thought it was outstanding). I was thus appropriately excited to taste this whisky, especially given its interesting maturation process.

The Caol Ila Distiller’s Edition appears to be a Caol Ila 12 year old that has been matured a further while in muscatel (a form of port) barrels. In my research I could not determine exactly how long it was matured. It stands to reason that my expectations were of a Caol Ila 12, with its light, fruity peaty flavors given an extra sweet richness from the muscatel. On paper, an extra couple of years in port barrels seems like a fantastic idea.

For reference, I had the 2000 Edition.

caol ila distiller's edition

On the nose there is a restrained peat, not quite at the level of the 12 year old Caol Ila. There is a moderate spiciness akin to both raisins and cinnamon, combined with more medicinal notes than I experienced in the 12 year old. There is a lovely light, smooth puff of smoke that rounds off an excellent nose.

In my review of the 18 year old I complained of excessive sweetness in the 18 year old Caol Ila and feared that this whisky would suffer the same problems.  On the palate there is the expected (and feared) sweetness first, but it quickly gives way to crisp red fruit, peat, smokiness and a hint of ash. The cinnamon and raisin flavors of the nose return to create a continuously evolving palate.

The finish is medium in length and has a fruity sweetness with a puff of smoke.

This whisky has won a few awards, notably the 2011 San Francisco World Spirits Competition Best Single Malt award. There’s no doubt that both the Caol Ila 12 and Distiller’s Edition are excellent whiskies. The issue comes with the price, which whisky judges are not too concerned with. Due to rarity, whether real or perceived, the Distiller’s Edition costs 50 pounds. For that money you could be drinking the brilliant Ardbeg Uigeadail or Laphroaig 10 Year Old Cask Strength, both excellent whiskies. My personal tastes prefer the Uigeadail, but if you want something a little lighter, creamier and fruitier this whisky will satisfy you.

Caol Ila Distiller’s Edition Information

  • Type: Single malt Scotch whisky
  • Region: Islay
  • ABV: 43%
  • Price guide: 55 pounds

Caol Ila Distiller’s Edition Score – 9/10

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