by Cadenhead) from the first half of the eighties are all excellent (I
scored them 90 points and above) I wonder if it is the vintage as such
or rather the long maturation time that makes them so extraordinary
good. That is why I check a slightly younger Caol Ila from the same
period (1984) https://www.whiskybase.com/whisky/23103/caol-ila-1984-sv. The make it more interesting I do this in a head-to-head
to this Caol Ila of the same age (1989).Colour: The 1984 is around two shades darker (old gold) than the 1989 (pale gold).
Texture: The 1984 has a few late, slow and tiny legs and tears. Same with the 1989 so both show about the same oiliness.
Nose: The 1989 offers a medium peaty profile with sweet (vanilla)
and autumn floral aromas (haystacks on a dried meadow). Some citrus too
(lime, orange). The 1984's nose is more rich and balanced than the
1989 despite the higher abv and with less peaty/smoky notes. It reminds
a little of the 30+ years bottlings mentioned above but compared to
these it shows much less comlexity (yes, maturation time is
important!). Nevertheless it offers more aromas and flavours than the
1989 (obviously the vintage years make a difference too, probably Diageo
changed the Caol Ila distillation regime during the whisky crisis of
the eighties...). I like the 1984 better...
Arrival: The 1984 arrives bold on the palate and instantly coats the
mouth with some peppery/hot moments due to the high abv. Again it
reminds a little of the 30+ years bottlings. The 1989 comes smooth and a
little adstringent (cold ashes). It is by far not as coating as the
1984. This round wins the 1984 again.
Body: The 1989 shows a rather light body mainly on bourbon-sweet
(demara sugar, vanilla) and peaty flavours that is comparable to the
nose. Some additional spices pop up after a while. The profile of the
1984 is again much more complex and rounded with significant more peaty
flavours than in the nose. The barley sweetness emerges over time and
is complemented by nice wooden notes. Some maritime aromas too (salt,
seaweed). Again it shows a comparable profile to the 30+ years
bottlings that are, of course, even richer and more complex than this
one. But the 1984 is significantly more delicious than the rather just
Finish: Long finish with the 1989 that comes in different waves and
still sticks to your throat even after minutes, I like that. But still
it is somehow simple and not very complex - an easy to drink but easy
to forget dram too. The 1984's finish is of medium length and adds even
more sugars to the profile. I vote for a draw in this round.
Water: With some water the 1984's opens up more and the mouthfeel
gets smoother (no hotness anymore). But the palate and the finish
flattens a little bit, so I like the 1984 best when neat. No water is
needed on the 1989 (it gets even more sweeter: this drives it out of any
Both are nice and easy drams to sip but the 1984 is a clear winner
due to a much more complex, rich and balanced profile. This reminds of
the great 30+ years bottlings from the same period (vintage counts
here!) that are nevertheless at least one class better (extra maturation
time counts too!). It seems that Caol Ila from the early eighties
matures in dignity...