Overall rating
89.31/100
votes
145
Whiskybase ID
WB151177
Category
Single Malt
Distillery
Bottler
Gordon & MacPhail (GM)
Bottling serie
Connoisseurs Choice - Cask Strength
Vintage
29.10.1996
Bottled
23.01.2020
Stated Age
23 years old
Casktype
Refill Sherry Butt
Casknumber
16075
Number of bottles
519
Strength
58.3 % Vol.
Size
700 ml
Label
Batch 20/024
Barcode
5020613076938
Added on
09 mar 2020 6:30 pm by lullerskatez
UncoloredNon-chillfilteredCask StrengthSingle Cask Whisky

Average value

£ 195.02

70 × in wishlist

145 × member ratings

191 × in collection

Whisky reviews for Caol Ila 1996 GM

27 users have left 27 reviews for this whisky. Average rating is 89.31 points.

  1. 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

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  3. Slàinte Mhath scored this whisky 89 points Super Administrator

    Quick hit review.

    The magic of Islay condensed in a dram, there is never a dull moment with Caol Ila. Tobacco, burned matches and citrus zest enchant the nose, while mineral, briny and earthy notes add another layer. On the palate, orange jam, raisins and lemons are quickly pushed aside by an explosion of spices, think chili pepper and ginger. Herbal peat smoke, eucalyptus and drying oak stick around in the prolonged finish. A malt to savor, rich, characterful and satisfying.

    RATING: 4.2/5.0 stars ≙ 89 pts → FIRST-CLASS [+]

  4. Baanaanaabob scored this whisky 90 points Connoisseur

    Toffee, marzipan, tobacco leaves, cinammon, coastal peat, honey, not the industrial side of Caol ila much smoother and sweeter, very enjoyable

  5. dram-drinker scored this whisky 92 points Photo Moderator

    Quite unusual CI but very rich and complex - very good!
    • Nose
      93 93
      Nuts, ripe apricot, plum, sultanas, grapes, strawberry, blueberry, red currant, orange peel, old wooden cabinet, hints of leather, whiffs of peat and smoke, spices, pepper, cloves, some sherry wood - wow, what a complex blast! - great!
    • Taste
      92 92
      Oily, spicy, some liquorice, some acacia honey, orange peel, subtle sweetness, dried fruits, berries, tobacco, peat, smoke, sherry wood, some cooked oranges - very good!
    • Finish
      91 91
      Long, warm, fruity, little peaty and smoky, some wood spice

  6. larswehmeier scored this whisky 90 points Connoisseur

    An unusual Caol Ila that harmonises perfectly with the sherry cask. Less maritime than usual, but great sweetness and fruit aromas.
    • Nose
      Aromatic smoke, red grapes, chocolate, tobacco.
    • Taste
      Powerful, lots of smoke and ash, herbs, red wine, fine acidity, tobacco.
    • Finish
      Forever long and warming.

  7. WiltChamberlain scored this whisky 90 points Connoisseur

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

  8. JoshNRW scored this whisky 90 points Expert Senior

    I bought a 4cl sample from the Brühl whisky house for 15.50 euros.
    I'm happy about the 4cl because it gives me the opportunity to play with water here and also to take an extra sip to compare the first impressions. But above all, I did something today that I've never tried before: pouring a cask strength from Glencairn into the blender - after diluting it down a lot with water during the tasting. Actually, it's the other way around...

    And here it is confirmed that with such malts that offer something, a 2cl sample is simply not enough.
    With water and with time you can really have fun with this whisky. The price for a bottle is absolutely fine by today's standards in 2022.

    If you try this whisky on the fly in 20 minutes and maybe even without water, you'll end up with a lot of smoke and probably be disappointed.
    But this whisky can take a lot of water!
    • Nose
      90 90
      In Glencairn there is only a very clear smoky note of raw bacon. Rarely have I had such an intense and dominant smoky note with a Caol Ila.

      The fruity part of the Caol Ila needs 20-30 minutes before it is really noticeable.
      Only then in the interplay with the aromas does one realize that with 23yo one already has a mature whisky in front of oneself and the cask strength - which is close to 60%! - is really good here because it gives the whisky a nice intensity.

      Then more coffee powder with water, clearer, but still subtle dark berry fruit.
      In the blender with water then much more sweetness and the sherry finish comes through more clearly.
    • Taste
      90 90
      90.5
      Warm smoke, ash, burnt brown sugar, almonds from the carnival. Surprisingly little wood. I hope that comes with the water.

      With water then less - but still very present - smoke. Finally a slight bitterness that I like in malts aged 20+. With a lot of water - probably only 35 percent - it also has very clear sherry notes, without being too thin with so much water.
    • Finish
      89 89
      89.5
      The finish is medium-long, dry and smoky and not sharp at all for the cask strength. With water it remains sweet and smoky.

  9. Simon Stood scored this whisky 91 points Expert Senior

    An excellent example of caol ila sherry. Fatty smoked salmon with berry sauce. 22.5-23-22.5-22.5

  10. Hagerboe scored this whisky 88 points Member Senior

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

  11. butt scored this whisky 89 points Expert Senior

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

  12. AnnEm scored this whisky 89 points Expert Senior

    In the nose everything revolves around warm peat - spicy European oak - berry and citrus fruit, always carried by a wonderful malty sweetness. In the mouth it is very powerful, brings with it interesting estery adhesive notes and then becomes fresh-red-fruity towards the finish, where the malty-fruity-sweet impression gives way to the character of bitter red berry fruits. Coupled with the consistently distinctive salty-iodine-herbaceous peat that is quite demanding for me, but definitely very impressive!
    • Nose
      90 90
      Beguilingly sweet and greasy peat brand "glazed pork belly from the grill". The caramelized crust melts on the tongue. With plum sauce. Wild berry jam. Very intense, preserved berry fruit. Lacquered European oak with a warm spiciness (nutmeg, cardamom, allspice). I also mean to perceive some rum-like glue in this context. He's got a lot of Barley Sugar. Then comes a flood of the latest asphalt. Wonderfully deep basic character of the malty sweetness ("concentrated ethereal-bakery"). With more time, I can still find raisins pickled in Armagnac, but also refreshing lemon. Petroleum. Second nose: oily anchovies and something like the liquid dark chocolate core of a fondant mi-cuit that I was once allowed to enjoy in France.
    • Taste
      89 89
      Immediately there! Strong character and powerful, but not brutal. Lemon herbal peat. In addition to being spicy, the wood also has a few notes of glue, which I like very much here. Then it builds up in an expressive arc of dark red and fruity sweetness, whereby the fruits appear relatively fresh.
    • Finish
      89 89
      The fresh red fruitiness here immediately becomes relatively bitter. Coupled with the peat and a great surge of salty sea breeze, I find that quite challenging. But everything harmonizes very well with one another. From my throat it smokes intensely upwards again, primarily herbal-algae (iodine), with gauze bandage and also tobacco ash. Here it is strikingly tart.

  13. yellowcake scored this whisky 90 points Expert Senior

    • Nose
      90 90
      On the nose, the whisky opens with (surprisingly for its age) clear smoke and a nice sea note, the sherry barrel is initially restrained. Then you can also recognize fruity notes such as blueberry and blackberry. He is harmonious and pleasant. Once you get used to the smoke, you will also experience a malty sweetness.
    • Taste
      91 91
      The smoky note is very present here, as is the sea breeze - phenolic and salty. The age is most likely to come into its own here due to the reduced alcohol spiciness. It is now less sweet and a true Islay malt.
    • Finish
      90 90
      The finish is long and the sherry notes are now most likely present with coffee notes and caramel, with oak and vanilla - the smoke is well integrated here.

  14. KjellRolandson scored this whisky 84 points Expert Senior

    Nose is great, nice sweet smoke.
    It gets a little meaty over time.
    It stays in the mouth for a long time. The smoke fights with the sweet. Long finish. Great whisky

    Got a 2+ from me
    • Nose
      83 83
    • Taste
      84 84
    • Finish
      85 85

  15. zapfdaniel scored this whisky 89 points Expert Senior

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

  16. Whisky-Fancier scored this whisky 88 points Expert Senior

    The taste doesn't deliver what the nose promises. For the age, junk could have been complexity
    • Nose
      92 92
      Sweet smoke, liquorice, alcohol are strongly present
    • Taste
      86 86
      Smoke, ash, strong spiciness towards pepper, slight sweetness
    • Finish
      86 86
      Long, strong oak and tannin tones, ash remains

  17. 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.

  18. nallacam scored this whisky 88 points Connoisseur

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

  19. sarthur71 scored this whisky 88 points Connoisseur

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

  20. Gerrit84 scored this whisky 89 points Expert Senior

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

  21. Horror_Vacui scored this whisky 90 points Expert Senior

    Nose:
    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.

    Mouth:
    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.

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

    90/100

    Conclusion:
    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.

  22. 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

  23. 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

  24. Kovalyoff scored this whisky 89 points Connoisseur

    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
    23/22/22/22
    89

  25. WhiskyJpg scored this whisky 89 points Connoisseur

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

  26. 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.

  27. rpvdwel scored this whisky 88 points Connoisseur

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

  28. Hvdree scored this whisky 88 points Connoisseur

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

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