Located in the North east of Islay overlooking the straight between Islay and Jura, Caol Ila is Gaelic for “ sound of Islay” and was founded in 1846 by Hector Henderson.
Today the distillery is owned by Diageo and has the capacity to produce 6.5 million litres of alcohol from its 3 wash stills ( 19,000 litres ) and 3 spirit stills ( 12,000 litres )
Todays expression is from Independent bottlers and distributors Gordon and Macphail.. Established in 1895 as a grocery business and supplier of fine things like Coffee, tea, wines and of course whisky the company which was started by James Gordon and Alexander MacPhail today has one of the most respected ranges of whisky available.
In 1915 an apprentice by the name of John Urquhart joined the ranks and soon became an extremely valuable member helping select casks and purchase them alongside James Gordon. John also helped in the blending and sales of the whisky and it was with his help that the company today is what it is..
Today the business is still firmly in the Urquhart family grip with the latest members to join the growing list of family members being the great grandchildren of John Urquhart and the fourth generation of the family to be involved within the business.
Brothers Stuart and Richard Urquhart, who joined the company in 2008 and 2009, joined their father David who at the time was Managing director along with his brother Michael. ( David sadly passed away in 2015 after retirement in 2012.)
Along with Stephen Rankin and Neil Urquhart the company boasts 4, fourth generation members of the family who are all Great grandchildren of John Urquhart..
Boasting some of the oldest whiskies available for sale as well as some extremely old and rare whiskies hiding away in the collection of casks stored within the warehouses.
Some of the impressive whiskies released include the small matter of a 75 year old Mortlach, priced at a mere £20,000 when released and bottled in a beautiful tear drop decanter boasting 75 cuts to the crystal, also the previous oldest release which again was a Mortlach aged 70 years and also a 70 year old Glenlivet..
G & M have recently revamped the range with new bottle and label designs and I have to admit it does look rather dapper now..
This review is for a Caol Ila distilled in 2004, initially matured in both first fill and refill American oak before having receiving a “ finishing “ period of 3 years in Hermitage wine casks this expression is bottled at 45% abv with an outturn of 3950 bottles..
Nose.. Smokey with a handful of coal dust thrown in.. A smouldering bonfire with toffee apples cooking, cinder toffee, poached pear with a toffee sauce. A sprinkling of vanilla, summer fruits, orange rind and chocolate all finish off this seductive feast of aromas.
Palate.. A sweetness wrapped in a smoky jacket teases the palate with ooodles of vanilla, fresh fruits, soft spices and a bucketful of chocolate and coffee notes..
Finish.. Some Pepper and ginger gives this a nice lingering spicy finish..
Thoughts.. The re-design certainly gives this package a more elegant look and I’m sure this will now stand out even more..
The whisky inside is of course the same high standard as before and this Caol Ila is no exception.. Initially tried as part of a twitter tasting I just had to go out and buy one before it’s all gone.. Excellent stuff !!
Caol Ila 2004, Connoisseurs Choice..