Caol Ila 12-year-old

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

Average value

€ 46.21

193 × in wishlist

2427 × member ratings

7326 × in collection

Whisky Reviews for Caol Ila 12-year-old

237 users have left a review for this whisky and scored it an average of 83.44 points

  1. Slàinte Mhath scored this whisky 87 points Super Administrator

    Many moons ago, it was a dram of Caol Ila 12 that ignited my passion for whisky, and what a journey it has been. Time to revisit my old friend! On the nose, puffs of twiggy bonfire smoke give way to green apples, lemon and briny hints of seawater. Heather honey, black olives and peppery oak spices drive the full-bodied and oily taste, always accompanied by well-integrated sooty salinity. Citrus fruits, subtle vanilla and complex tea notes linger in the long and peaty finish. I'm biased, I know, but this characterful Islay malt is still overlooked and underrated!

    RATING: 4.0/5.0 stars ≙ 87 pts → FIRST-CLASS
    • Nose
      87 87
    • Taste
      88 88
    • Finish
      86 86

  2. 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.

  3. BarrelBeast scored this whisky 83 points Member Senior

    Youtube Review: https://youtu.be/5mnD_hUuRfA
    • Nose
      84 84
    • Taste
      84 84
    • Finish
      82 82

  4. rich_93 scored this whisky 87 points Member Senior

    A seriously complex dram, incredible value for money.
    • Nose
      Savoury, peaty, solventy, sweet. A lot going on here, you'll keep coming back to this and finding new nuances.

      Savoury notes of smoked fish, savoury oatcakes, sharp spices of pepper, fresh ginger and mustard. Hint of leather.

      Lots of complex green and earhty notes: damp forest floor, moss, bark, mentholic rosemary, hint of thyme. Bitter green tomato stem.

      There is a solventy spirit sweetness to this (think Johnnie Walker (wonder why!), tequila. This is made pleasant by *hints* of honey / vanilla and many over-ripe fruity notes: banana, black plum, morello cherry. Hints of lemon and grapefruit give freshness.

      The marine notes are my favourite part though. I guess you could call it 'sea-breeze', but there's also a much sharper notes of seaweed, ambrinol (sharp ambergris aromachemical). I've been working on a woody-marine perfume recently, and many of the smells overlap.
    • Taste
      Salty, mentholic, spicy, fruity. A bit bitter. Pleasant acidity throughout the palate.

      Black pepper crackers. Cool rosemary, cardamom and menthol, warm ginger. Again strong notes of seaweed and ambrinol. Some fruits: lemon, grapefruit, green apple, banana.

      Finishes smoky-woody, slightly tannic and drying, sweetened by honey. At times I perceive the wood as ashy, bringing to mind cigars. Other times it's just smoke and dry wood.

  5. Edward MacKenzie scored this whisky 86 points Expert Junior

    I always like it better!
    An outstanding standard, PLV almost unbeatable!
    Gentle, soft smoke, not medically.
    Rather chimney smoke.
    Islay-typical salty, sea breeze, sea spray ...?
    Citrus but not as strong as Bowmore.

    Who does not know him yet, definitely try!
    Also for advanced very recommendable!


  6. 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

  7. Expraesi scored this whisky 85 points Expert Senior

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

  8. claymore84 scored this whisky 82 points Expert Senior

    Tasted on 09-24-2021 in Bergisch Gladbach.

  9. Kraddell scored this whisky 62 points Member Senior

    Sample from 'the tasting collection'. Pours a rather light yellow, with only a milder golden shine. Aroma is strong - to say the least. Even pouring the sample out fills the room with aroma's. Scent is strong peaty, sharp dirt, smoke, ashy, burnt wood almost. Not my type of nose - as expected. Taste is medium intense, charred barrel, dirt, peat ( who'd expect ? ) full, woody side that goes well with the peat. however, where the ardbeg Ubigail ( sorry if I butchered that name ) provided a decent mouth and an amazing finish, this whisky evolves less to me. It circles more around the peat, and offers little outside of that. Definately not undrinkable or anything like that, just not for me.

  10. Bomshanka scored this whisky 88 points Expert Junior

    Review from a bottle open for 2 years, but with sufficient content to avoid losing the quality of the liquid. Considering this is a 12 year old Islay standard, its often vastly under appreciated and under priced too. Probably the best value for money younger age stated Islay. (I paid 33€ for 1 liter in 2018.)
    • Nose
      89 89
      Cold ashes of a bonfire. Stewed, sugared lemons cuts cleanly through. One of the cleanest lemon noses in town. Freshly cut peat, honey on toasted bread. Hint of anise and maybe even jalapeño pepper.
    • Taste
      88 88
      Sweet stewed lemons again, this time they have been through the bonfire. Smoke is clean and spicy. Malty, grainy, honey notes mingle. Clearly not old whisky, but very wholesome for its age.
    • Finish
      87 87
      Drying out on peppery smoke and lemon zest.


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