Overall rating
Single Malt
Distillery Bottling
Stated Age
12 years old
43.0 % Vol.
700 ml
Added on
02 Jun 2007 2:33 pm

Average value

€ 44,58

163 × in wishlist

1814 × member ratings

5357 × in collection

Whisky Reviews for Caol Ila 12-year-old

195 users have left a review for this whisky and scored it an average of 83.58 points

  1. hs305 scored this whisky 87 points Connoisseur

    This is the review of the very first release of the standard 12-years old Caol Ila from 2002 (hence distilled in 1990).

    [August, 2019] After an interesting old versus new head-to-head of the standard 18-years old Caol Ila edition that resulted in significant differences (3 points) I decided to do the same with the 12-years old standard edition. It is a head-to-head of the 2018 release (NEW, WB id 120834) versus this first ever bottling from 2002 (OLD, there is neither a Classic Malts logo nor a www.malts.com reference on the back label)...

    ...and the differences between these two are again significant. OLD is a typical old Traditional Scotch dram (distillate-driven, more complex, balanced all the time) while NEW shows elements of the modern whisky style already (much more wood-driven which leads to an imbalace during the finish, less complex). Guess what I prefer (by two points)?
    • Nose
      87 87
      The colour of OLD is two shades darker at old gold than NEW which is at jonquiripe corn (despite they used caramel on NEW). The nose of OLD offers a balanced sweet-peaty pofile with honeys, ripe yellow fruits, barley sugars and maritime-peaty aromas. The smoke grows stronger upon breathing without harming the balance as additional waxy and autumn floral notes join in as well. A pretty fine nose for a 12-years old, indeed1 NEW offers a quite different profile with shy unripe green fruits, more sugars and a different smokey impression (no maritime notes, rather like a cold bonfire). It is balanced too with more wood impact, but much simplier than OLD. I clearly prefer the nose from 2002.
    • Taste
      87 87
      The taste of OLD is quite bold on delicious sweet flavours over fine peat smoke notes. The fruits are present all the time as are the barley sugars, later some waxes and meaty notes (smoked bacon) join in. It is not very complex but it is a tasty mix, easy to quaff. NEW's taste is much more wood-driven with sweet barley sugars balancing the bitter tannins nicely. It is easy drinkble too but a complete different style. Again I prefer OLD clearly.
    • Finish
      88 88
      OLD arrives warming and instantly coating on the palate without distracting moments. The initial mouthfeel of NEW is warming and coating too but a little less impressive with a minor bitter-astringent moment (tannins at work). Both drams own a long finish where OLD adds some spices and herbal impressions without distracting moments at all. NEW turns more bitter during the finish with a drying mouthfeel, now the tannins of the wood take control and drive NEW out of balance, unfortunately. Water is not needed on both.

  2. Slàinte Mhath scored this whisky 87 points Administrator

    What a characterful dram this is! Caol Ila 12 is a hidden peaty Islay jewel that is underrated by many. On the nose, you get well-integrated bonfire smoke. Unlike with some of the other Islay Single Malts, the peatiness is well-balanced and does not mask the complexity of the aroma. Tasting honey-sweet in the arrival, it develops full-bodied and oily with spicy hints of oak. A fire-infused warming glow turns into a long and peaty finish, leaving behind salty sea notes. It is a consistently good whisky and one of the foundation stones of the Johnnie Walker range.

    RATING: 4.0/5.0 stars ≙ 87 pts → FIRST-CLASS
    • Nose
      87 87
    • Taste
      88 88
    • Finish
      87 87

  3. Ila-Maus scored this whisky 89 points Expert Junior

    • Nose
      87 87
    • Taste
      92 92
    • Finish
      88 88

  4. ColdAesthetics scored this whisky 85 points Connoisseur

    For me, one of the most underrated single malts out there, a very nice standard islay for people who are not just blind ash-horny. ;)
    • Nose
      Stronger peat level than expected, but at the same time typically Caol Ila moderately oily soft, the peat is quite sweet, which is one of the roundest Islay experiences, but still unmistakably Islay. Beautiful honey sweetness, finest lemon sweet notes, a beautiful glow like a still burning out campfire, but without ashes, brown sugar, some thyme, of course, light salt, a little bit of white grapes, probably. but that is a deception of the DE in the back of my mind that I like so much, light apricot in between
    • Taste
      Beautiful gentle salt spray on the coast, a smoldering fire, but here also no real smoke or dry ashes as other Islays, more a general "glow" of the coal, sweet forest honey with herbs in it, all typical CI here also beautiful oily-viscous, the apricot is also to be found in between, with core, sweet-bitter with the beautiful salt tick
    • Finish
      The forest honey with a bit of ash remains nice, brown sugar and young oak chips, dry herbs, medium

  5. The_Chilicatch scored this whisky 84 points Newbie

    Wonderful medical smoke, which is replaced by a beautiful, sweet and full body. I wish for a better synthesis of these two sides. For me they are sometimes a bit unconnected side by side. But that may be a matter of taste. Definitely a must have in the bar!

  6. mosesumike scored this whisky 82 points Expert Senior

    Can I be brief because we will not warm us two. Everything is as it should be and nothing is special. Just as labidary as I have described the two sentences, so is my impression. Respectful but bored.
    • Nose
      83 83
      I'm not a friend of these lemons cleaners. I will probably never become. But I pay respect. Reason made solid.
    • Taste
      82 82
      It is smoky, spicy and even slightly sweet. Slightly salty and fully ok.
    • Finish
      80 80
      Medium long but fast drying. The smoke and the sea air remain. Island Experience 1.0;)

  7. AdamsB scored this whisky 84 points Expert Senior

    Very good, smoky, peated whisky. Fantastic to alternative daily use.
    • Nose
      84 84
      Fresh, mild, grassy, seaweed, juniper, peat, apples, iodine
    • Taste
      80 80
      Peaty smoke, lemon peel, vanilla, oak, oily
    • Finish
      88 88
      Long, smoky, citrus, slightly spicy, nutmeg

  8. WhiskyLovingPianist scored this whisky 81 points Connoisseur


    N: I’m pleased to report the 12yo still has that notable oily brininess [on the nose at least], with a touch of smokey bacon.
    T: Decidedly lacklustre after the initial stages. Though the smoke >> vegetal character is likeable, it’s not as oily rich as I’ve remembered it in the past.
    F: Evaporates to a mild something-ness.
    C: I used to regard the Caol Ila 12yo as a go-to, though admittedly, some years have past.

    [Scores 81 points]

    TAKE 2 - around an hour later

    N: Wtf, really? Core range juice on free pour in the courtyard! “Seaweed and iodine”, says the manager. Good, let’s move on.
    T: Light dry smoke, no body. With respect to the already sacrificed in my name, I eat my first and possibly last oyster. It’s of the sea for sure, accompanied by actual gravel in iodine. The oyster is of more interest in the moment,….
    F: ,… and dominates my palate completely. Food pairing, honestly !
    C: Oysters, what’s that all about? The taste of the sea/fish farm, literally. The whisky scores 81 again.

  9. Dris scored this whisky 86 points Connoisseur

    • Nose
      85 85
    • Taste
      86 86
    • Finish
      87 87

  10. EnjoyLife89 scored this whisky 78 points Expert Junior

    I find the game between smoke, sweet and fruit very interesting. I liked that very much
    • Nose
      Medico-smoky, light sweetness with fresh, ripe fruits
    • Taste
      Smoky, sweet, a fruitiness stands out
    • Finish
      Long and sweet, then the smoke builds up, warming and soft


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