tasting notes: Caol Ila 10 year from Gordon & MacPhail

G&M Connoiseurs ChoiceGordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice Caol Ila 10 year (dist. 1995)

Alc/vol: 46%
Color: just-slightly-bronzed gold
Legs: med. beads, slow drop
Nose: buttery pastries in paris, a crackling fireplace in winter, dark chocolate, ripe red fruits, and oranges, all wrapped up in an ocean breeze
Palette: coal, spices (nutmeg), more chocolate (milky now), and a sweetness like buttered veggies (butternut squash seems to be it) grilling over a charcoal flame
Body: a bit oily and quite fulfilling in the mouth; lots of texture (can a mouthfeel have “complexity”? – I think so)
Finish: a long, lingering chocolate éclair eaten in front of the fire
Overall: I was happily shocked when I first tasted this, and the retaste confirms everything: a well cared-for independent bottling of an often underestimated Islay. While it is as enjoyable to me as anything, it doesn’t quite have the complexity of a Talisker 10, Ardbeg 10, or Highland Park 18. Nevertheless, this dram is absolutely a peaty, smokey treat.
Score: 8.9/10

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2 Responses

  1. So…do you find the typical Caol Ila coal smoke to be subdued underneath all of that chocolate? How would you compare this to the standard 12 year Caol Ila?

    Thanks,
    Jeff

  2. No, I might not have made it clear, but the smoke is there the whole way. It is perhaps smokier than the 12 yo. The smoke is the first thing you meet the mouth, but it is intense perhaps like what biting into recently extinguished hot coals might be like. The main difference between this and the 12, although I haven’t had that in a while, is the intesity of both the mouthfeel and the flavor. You will notice it right away. The smoke is both sharp and fulfilling, but there is more going on. The whole flavor is laid out on a chocolately and peaty backdrop, with the spices and buttery sweetness coming in. The finish is creamy, sweet, and definitely smokey.
    Next time I think I’ll do a comparison with the 18 yo.

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