Overall rating
Whiskybase ID
Single Malt
Gordon & MacPhail (GM)
Bottling serie
Connoisseurs Choice - Cask Strength
Stated Age
23 years old
Refill Sherry Butt
Number of bottles
58.3 % Vol.
700 ml
Batch 20/024
Added on
09 Mar 2020 6:30 pm by lullerskatez
UncoloredNon-chillfilteredCask StrengthSingle Cask Whisky

Average value

£ 238.03

64 × in wishlist

120 × member ratings

160 × in collection

Whisky Reviews for Caol Ila 1996 GM

20 users have left a review for this whisky and scored it an average of 89.16 points

  1. Johannes de Silentio scored this whisky 88 points Member Senior

    Color: Light Amber

    Nose: Definitely sherry and peat, but this is not one of those recent Ballechins, for instance, where everything is turned up to eleven. Still, the hallmarks are there: honey-cured ham and light brown sugar, indicating that the coastal nature of Caol Ila is doing some work here. That's because it would otherwise start to trend into BBQ, but that's not what we have here. It's more subtle and possesses greater salinity levels. Honestly, we're not too far off from that '02 Ardmore G&M bottled late in their old Cask Strength series. In short, it's a different experience than a true peat-sherry bomb, but the refill wood is doing a service here as long as you're not only after a huge flavor hit. The label mentions dark fruit, which is typical with sherry maturation, but I don't pick up much, perhaps a hint of blackberries after some time in the glass. The longer I nose this, the more the Caol Ila character shines, which can't be a bad thing. Water doesn't change much.

    Taste: Surprisingly restrained arrival for a 58%+ peat-sherry dram. For one, it's not particularly viscous, which is fine--honestly, very thick Caol Ila would be an odd experience. But there's also basically no heat--very sippable neat. In terms of flavors, G&M does a decent job descriptively here: dark chocolate and orange come to the fore with a mineral peat structure. And with multiple sips, the coffee notes do come. I don't always like official notes, but not bad here, folks. Water brings down the bitterness, which I'm not sure is an asset, honestly. You're left with the light sherry spice, orange, and minerality--I prefer it neat.

    Finish: Good--mildly bitter, sherry spice, and the chocolate orange continues. Not much difference diluted.

    Comments: One of the classier peat-sherry combinations I've encountered. While I think this is an interesting profile and a worthy bottling, I can't help but find myself wanting a bit more oomph. Very well-done but not brilliant and not possessing enough idiosyncratic pleasures to push me to the 90+ level, but it's close. Close call on whether I'd recommend a purchase, because while it's not outrageously priced, it's also not a bargain. I think if you're looking for a muted, classy peat-sherry profile, this is worth checking out.

  2. Totoro scored this whisky 90 points Connoisseur

    Absolutely demands water, then it's a real winner.

    I usually score nose higher than palate + finish, but here it's the other way around, and I like this bottling all the more for it. Now if only its price would drop below 200 €...
    • Nose
      89 89
      Okay, I'm sorry, but the first thing that comes to mind is: sherry and peat. If I'd have to differentiate more (which I guess I do, otherwise why bother), I'd say that the sherry influence strikes me as modern but measured, while the peat is of the herbal and earthy variety. In combination, these two main aromas seem to me not so much maritime as leathery and autumnal. Cinnamon sticks, eukalyptus cough drops, fir needles, rotting leaves and wet earth, white wine vinegar, liquorice root, old leather, and perhaps just a handful of acidic red berries (redcurrant or blackcurrant?). Okay, so there is some complexity to be found within this simple scheme. And I'll say this: it really noses super-civilized, with absolutely no bite or nip – the (considerably high) alcohol content is integrated perfectly.
      Water opens it up nicely, adding cocoa powder, chocolate, a soft farmyard aspect, and more sweetness in general. The peat also becomes more sophisticated, almost fragrant now. H2O definitely recommended!

      90 points with water, 88 without it – I'll settle for the middle.
    • Taste
      90 90
      Creamy, soft, velvety at first, but of course at close to 60 percent, it can't stay that way. Halfway through, the alcohol makes its presence felt and things get more peppery, menthol-like and ... warming, to say the least. Flavors mirror the aromas outlined above 1:1. Without water, I'd place this around the 87-88 point mark. Let's see what a drop will do...
      Yup, it pretty much transforms it. Gone is the peppery blast in the middle, and hello, there's the sweetness, and the chocolate, and a longer finish. Perhaps I'm imagining things, but I'm under the impression that the coastal/maritime character also becomes more noticeable now: it's become salty all of a sudden! Seriously good, but it needs some coaxing out.

      91 points with water, 88 without it, so fuck settling for the middle: this is at least 90 on the palate, the upside is that strong.
    • Finish
      91 91
      Without water, it's more herbal and acerbic, but with a drop or two, it's all chocolate-y gooey goodness and peaty salinity. Lasts forever and remains extremely harmonious and well-balanced. Sweet, salty, savory, riddled with cocoa. I really can't find any fault with it at all.

  3. Kovalyoff scored this whisky 89 points Expert Senior

    Nose: campfire smoke, charcoal meat, sweet fruits, minerality, salt ...
    Taste: charcoal with salt, dark chocolate, smoked meat ...
    Long lasting aftertaste, sweet fruit, coffee and dark chocolate

  4. nallacam scored this whisky 88 points Connoisseur

    • Nose
      89 89
    • Taste
      87 87
    • Finish
      87 87

  5. LeChiffre scored this whisky 90 points Connoisseur

    For its age, I find it surprisingly strong and smoky in the mouth. But on the other hand, not too complex in terms of age, but extremely tasty. If it were a little cheaper (around 150 euros), it might be worth a large bottle to me.
    • Nose
      91 91
      the smoke has already receded well in the 23y - but it has a great greasy aroma (smoker) with some ash (burnt wood) - I have rarely had such a nice smoky note; behind it fruity notes of dark berries; Sour cherry; some orange zest; add fruity and very delicate vanilla with water
    • Taste
      90 90
      vigorous; spicy; an earthy-ashy smoke settles in the mouth - very ostensibly and more clearly than in the nose; fruity notes; Orange; Dark chocolate; getting dry easily; spicy oak aromas; tasty but lacks complexity considering its age; with water it gets a nice creamy texture
    • Finish
      89 89
      spicy; some pepper; slight sweetness; delicate oak; Coffee; greasy ash smoke lingers for a long time; getting dry easily

  6. Horror_Vacui scored this whisky 90 points Expert Senior

    Without water, rather strongly maritime, clearly perceptible smoke, coal smoke. In the second row dark fruits such as figs, walnuts and some blackberries and sour cherries. Orange peel.
    With water, the fruity side comes to the fore, ash and smoke recede a little.

    Clearly smoky and ashy, in this respect this bottling can easily keep up with some ten-year-olds.
    On its own, the Caol Ila character is clearly in the foreground, with a nice influence from the barrel with notes of fruit and cinnamon, plus dark chocolate. With water, the fruity side comes out more clearly, figs, blackcurrants. Bacon jam. Nuts and coffee beans roasted with time in the mouth.

    Long, quite bitter with water (coffee made from coffee beans that are burnt too hot), without water a pleasant bitterness with a subliminal sweetness.


    Nice bottling, astonishingly strong and smoky-ashy, a lot of sherry influence without the barrel taking over. Only a bit too bitter in the finish with water if you don't carefully pipette it. With about 0.5cl of water on the drum, he showed a really great balance for me.

  7. Igitor scored this whisky 90 points Connoisseur

    A whisky that is really fun. A shot of water is good for him
    • Nose
      90 90
      Reduced smoke, cake batter, orange peel, wild berries and kirsch
    • Taste
      91 91
      Orange, cake, light coffee and berries. Nice and creamy and harmonious, if not overly complex. That would normally be a maximum of 90 points, but one point of horniness is definitely worth it to me
    • Finish
      89 89
      Smoke and English orange jam are left behind. No bitterness to be felt

  8. WhiskyCasual scored this whisky 88 points Expert Senior

    Even after 23 years of barrel storage, there is still a lot of ash
    • Nose
      88 88
    • Taste
      88 88
    • Finish
      87 87

  9. Hagerboe scored this whisky 88 points Member Senior

    • Nose
      87 87
    • Taste
      89 89
    • Finish
      88 88

  10. butt scored this whisky 89 points Expert Senior

    • Nose
      89 89
    • Taste
      90 90
    • Finish
      89 89


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