Caol Ila 18-year-old

Overall rating
Whiskybase ID
Single Malt
Distillery Bottling
Stated Age
18 years old
43.0 % Vol.
700 ml
Added on
11 Dec 2013 9:54 am

Average value

€ 114.31

94 × in wishlist

1170 × member ratings

2998 × in collection

Whisky Reviews for Caol Ila 18-year-old

97 users have left a review for this whisky and scored it an average of 86.39 points

  1. hs305 scored this whisky 90 points Connoisseur

    This is the review of the very first release of the standard 18-years old Caol Ila from 2002 (hence distilled in 1984).

    [August, 2019] Tonight is the night to do a long-planned old versus new head-to-head of the standard Caol Ila edition, 2015 release (NEW, WB id 96997) 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 the two are really significant. Of course, both present the lovely Caol Ila DNA but OLD indeed offers a complex and bold old-stylish profile while NEW rather goes for the modern wood-driven whisky "zeitgeist" that is much more simple and (to me) rather boring. Do not get me wrong, still the new 18-years old Caol Ila is a nice dram to drink but its profile lacks a lot of personality compared to its 2002 sibling.

    [June, 2021] I re-tasted this dram tonight and fully confirm my old review and score. What a difference to the newer batches, and by the way: Angus from whiskyfun scored a sample from this very bottle 90 points too.
    • Nose
      89 89
      The colour of OLD is one shade darker at old gold while NEW is at yellow gold (despite they use caramel to adjust it). The nose of the two drams is very different: Old offers a truly old-stylish profile with lots of nice OBFs , fruits, honeys, waxes, oils, herbs and significant maritime peaty aromas. This is the adorable sweet-peaty profile from the best years of Caol Ila (simply check the ratings of older vintage 1984 bottlings - 2002-18=1984). Contrary to OLD the NEW release shows much more bitter-herbal wooden notes but misses both the fruity-sweet and maritime flavours almost completely. What a difference!
    • Taste
      90 90
      The taste of OLD is layered and greatly chewable so it offers all its delicious flavours like in a parade. The sweet fruits and barley sugars, the maritime peaty notes , the spicy wooden flavours and many more impressions are in a perfect balance without any flaw. Great stuff to quaff! NEW's taste is not layered, unfortunately and dominated by bitter-peaty flavours with the sweet notes playing a minor role only. It gets rather drying-astringent over time - but again: still NEW is a fine dram that I like to drink. Nonetheless it is a three points difference to OLD.
    • Finish
      90 90
      The initial mouthfeel of NEW is warming and just a little coating without distracting moments while OLD arrives absolutely charming and instantly coats the whole of the mouth. Of course it shows no distracting moments either. OLD's finish is long and vanishes in several fading waves without any distracting moments again. All stays harmonic and balanced and the old-style waxes and earthy notes form a grand finale. The finish of NEW is shorter but still medium to long and stays on the bitter-astringent side (with additional eucalyptus notes, just like the end of the taste was). Again, this is enjoyable but a huge difference to the 2002 edition. Water is not recommended on NEW as it just flattens the dram. OLD is a better swimmer but still I like it best when neat.

  2. Slàinte Mhath scored this whisky 89 points Super Administrator

    With a natural preference for the independent bottlers, one tends to overlook how good some of the official bottlings can actually be. More settled and complex, the years have tamed this Caol Ila 18 quite a bit. Leaning towards smoldering bonfires, sea spray and sour apples, the nose unfolds with buttermilk, lemon and hints of aniseed. A wonderful combination of peaty, salty-sweet and acidic flavors dance on the palate, raw and yet elegant. Herbal tea, dry peat smoke and a touch of miso soup characterize the long finish. This malt is worth every penny!

    RATING: 4.2/5.0 stars ≙ 89 pts → FIRST-CLASS [+]
    • Nose
      89 89
    • Taste
      91 91
    • Finish
      88 88

  3. WhiskyLovingPianist scored this whisky 86 points Connoisseur


    Early this year I wrote [with regards to an 11yo Caol Ila WB] ‘I’m reminded how much I love Caol Ila almost everytime I have it‘. It’s weird then that I rarely buy it,… maybe because it’s always there? I bought this because the price was insanely good. Let’s see where the official 18yo is at in 2018/19.

    N: Dry yet moorish cereal-sweet barley with subtle onion-y > > pickled onion-y, peaty & husky desiccated coconut-y aromas.

    T: Dry-not-dry husky creamy smoky < barley with oily/buttery coconut topped off with a herbal/candle wax, vanilla essence-d icing and a curious combo of boot polish and pub style pickled whelks, a splash of cider and an even smaller splash of lager-lime top. How very 19,… you choose the decade.

    F: Light-smokey barley, dirty lemon-y oily garage floors, some coppery > iron fillings,… concluding with husky peaty dry barley with light black tea, remnants of nicotine and just a hint of menthol-y Jif/Cif-like dry lemon. Finishes true on sweet malted barley.

    C: Over time it showed itself as a dependable deliver-er and yet totally unmoving as if the life had left it before it had even reached the bottling plant. It did however really improve after being poured into an empty glass with the remnants of an Old Elgin 8yo [WLP]. It was the caramel banana > molasses that gave it some body/balls. Maybe this and Deanston 12 would work for a Douglas Laing Double Barrel?

  4. TeddyKGB scored this whisky 87 points Member Senior

    Caol ila 18.

    I want to charm friends. To impress them. I need an elegant, fragrant scotch, neither too strong nor too diluted. Sobriety but respondent ... to discover the magnificence of peat scotches of Islay without disgusting them too much.
    Anyway, are you available tonight?

  5. Archer scored this whisky 87 points Connoisseur

    Usually, I only use a simple Glencairn glass for a tasting, to ensure a stringent evaluation of different whiskys for me. For the Caol Ila 18, I used the 1920s Professional Blenders glass for once, as I had the impression that the Glencairn does not quite live up to this whisky. And it turns out that the 1920s can tease out even more flavors from the whisky. Actually, I do not use this glass anymore, because I had a lot of whisky too concentrated and alcoholic in the nose.
    In any case, the Caol Ila 18 is a gentleman who is at peace and gives you the feeling that he does not have to prove anything to you. Either, you get involved in it, or you just pass by - which would be a pity, because you would miss a very pleasant representative of Islay's north coast.
    • Nose
      87 87
      Since one thinks first of all, to have an unpeated Caol Ila in the glass, so reserved, so subtle is the smoke - and it does not even show up from the beginning, but she has to literally work forward, past the Overripe bananas, gooseberries and pineapple slices. Sweet and fruity, it presents itself in the nose, with a pinch of salt and sea scent. Dried orange slices, honey, milk chocolate. Everything is very gentle, very smooth and dignified.
    • Taste
      88 88
      Mild approach, in which from the beginning - which contrast to the nose - a dry smoky touch on the tongue lays. Creamy and dry in equal parts, with coffee beans, crème brulée, toffee, malt. With its 43% it glides pleasantly over the tongue. Nut brittle and chopped almonds, marzipan bread. The wood content is pleasantly balanced.
    • Finish
      87 87
      Medium to long finish, dry. The dry oak planks are intensified in the finish, salt and smoke attract again clearly, plus a pinch of pepper and mild spices.

  6. Horror_Vacui scored this whisky 87 points Expert Senior

    Caol Ila 18yo (Batch L7255)

    You notice first of all that the smoke here is much more restrained. A campfire on the beach, with moist wood and seaweed, whose scent is carried from a distance to the nose. Where he has lost smoke, he has gained fruit. The green apple is joined by red, while the citrus is juicy peach. Licorice, some freshly grated nutmeg, the wood is noticeable. Fine herbal scents: thyme, a little coriander.
    A complex nose that invites you to take a long time to sniff, the smoke does not show any medical notes here.

    In the mouth, it is initially slightly astringent. The 18-year-old is also much more fruity and the smoke is finely integrated in the form of a light ashiness. Apples, peaches, a little pear compote, almond slivers, rum grapes, a few drops of brine, olives, herbs and oak spice.

    Long, only slightly ashen, for the first time the oak dominates. Light grape sweetness.

    Very well balanced, a malt without blemish and blame. The cultivated smoke is good for him, the fruitiness and the oak spice in the finish as well. Only that the price jump from 12 to 18 is quite high, is a bit steep.

  7. PatSch23_12 scored this whisky 85 points Expert Senior

    Good. Not more, not less.
    • Nose
      Tart and sour grapefruit, fresh, mineral-chalky, comparatively little (campfire) smoke perceptible, thyme, warm potting soil, some pine needles, very subtle vanilla
    • Taste
      oily on the tongue, cold, ashy smoke, tingling tart citrus notes (again the grapefruit), candied ginger, sourish, slightly salty, smoldering hay (with a few flowers, delicate floral)
    • Finish
      bitter green tea

  8. whiskyinstitut scored this whisky 87 points Connoisseur

    For me as Coal Ila haters a real surprise.
    • Nose
      Cold and ashy smoke, lime skin, a slight dill note in addition, slightly mineral, dirty, engine room
    • Taste
      Sweet smoke, vanilla, sage pepper, creamy, oranges
    • Finish
      Ostensibly the cold smoke, slightly dry oak, lots of sweetness, pleasantly interwoven

  9. hs305 scored this whisky 90 points Connoisseur

    [May, 2017]  I had this dram during the Manager's Masterclass tasting at Caol Ila open day (Feis Ile).  So it is the most recent batch.

    When this 18 year old was first released in 2002 I instantly loved it for its boldness and rich flavours.  And the price was very okayish back then with just 55 Eurobucks.  Since then I regularly try new batches and still they are all good.  But there are significant differences too, so the newer batches became more woody and drying due to heavy tannins (obviously they fell victim to the cask supply shortage too as many other standard whiskies did).  Nevertheless a very nice and easy-to-drink dram with a charming peaty-sherry-vanilla profile.
    • Nose
      88 88
    • Taste
      86 86
    • Finish
      85 85

  10. pianoman scored this whisky 88 points Connoisseur

    • Nose
      Subtle aromatic smoke. Bright fruits, lemons, grapes. Vanilla. Coffee, earth.
    • Taste
      Gentle smoke. Fruity, then a little sharper. Chocolate with chili. Liquorice. Pleasant warming.


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