1996 Caol Ila 20 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky (750ml) SKU #1298483

$129.99

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Tasting Notes

Caol Ila's whisky can be as transitive and unpredictable as the Islay weather itself; sometimes it's light and breezy, while other times powerful and thunderous in its character. At cask strength, the salt, smoke, and peat aromas often leap out of the glass, but when tempered the creaminess and fruitiness of the spirit itself is allowed to shine, fat and unctuous in its texture. With this cask of 20 year old Caol Ila, we have the best of both worlds: a full proof, no-water-added single barrel whisky that has naturally proofed itself down to 46% after two decades in wood. The nose is an absolute dream: sweetly-tinged smoke, burning embers, with faint aromas of peach and apricot in the background. The palate is simply perfect: sweet vanilla intermixed with peat, salt, and ash, but always with a roundness of texture that's a product of the distillery's wide-necked pot stills. It's a perfect Caol Ila specimen, highlighting the strengths of the Islay distillery's personality, each with equal concentration and intensity, all in harmony and balance.

Staff Reviews

  • Andrew Stevens
    By: Andrew Stevens
    11/22/2017
    K&L Staff Member
    If you are a fan of Islay whisky just buy this, seriously this is just absolutely beautiful Islay at a wonderful age. I have said on more than one occasion that Caol Ila may be my favorite Scotch once it has had a chance to age because it just always seems that somewhere right around the 20 year mark this whisky just all comes together and sings. This bottling is no exception and the price is fantastic for what you are getting. Light fruit, honey, ash and smoke on the nose lead to an incredibly balanced palate. Here an immediate strong core of just doused campfire smoke carried the young sweet fruit, honey, and seaside notes effortlessly. The balance is amazing and the finish is surprisingly soft and mild. Just delightful!
  • Jeffrey Jones
    By: Jeffrey Jones
    11/22/2017
    K&L Staff Member
    This cask of Caol Ila was a lucky find because it has so much to offer. There are pleasant smoke aromas that should please any fan of single malts from Islay. My first though when I tasted it was that this cask is really something special. There is such a nice mixture of smoke, sea like flavors and malt , and it is concentrated and intense. I tasted this with no additional water because it was 46% alc/vol. when bottled which probably helps explain the lovely concentrated flavor.
  • Andrew Whiteley
    By: Andrew Whiteley
    11/22/2017
    K&L Staff Member
    It's my favorite time of year here at K&L. Not only are we hitting our stride in the busy season for wine, but it's finally whisky season. I wait all year to see what David has hidden up his sleeve. As the market for fine malts gets tighter and tighter we still manage to procure things like this. 20 glorious years in barrel has brought the full proof down, integrated the smoky and salt, and let the barley shine through. The end result is one of the most approachable and lovely Islay whisky's I've tasted this year. The big brash smoke of Caol Ila's youth has been tempered with age into an assertive and confident dram, the salt air of Islay permeates the glass. Fresh fruits of a distant land waft in and out. The palate is smooth and lingering. There is a touch of sweetness on the back end and a little piquant spice. This is a no brainer for the whisky lover in your life during the holidays...even if that whisky lover happens to be yourself.
  • Alex Schroeder
    By: Alex Schroeder
    11/16/2017
    K&L Staff Member
    This might be the deal of the holiday season in Scotch whiskeys. After tasting it, I’m almost tempted to use the word “perfect” to describe it. It showcases the beautiful Islay brininess and smoke as a subtle undertone to the rich, sweet malt profile. The flavor punch from the full strength, single cask is incredible but balanced and fully integrated. Definitely my top pick for holiday Scotch.
  • David Driscoll
    By: David Driscoll
    11/15/2017
    K&L Staff Member
    One of my all time favorite whiskies was the old distillery edition of the Caol Ila 18 - a beautiful rendition of the Islay single malt that packed equal weight and richness of texture with all that peaty goodness. It wasn't a cask strength edition, which is what really made the difference for me. If a distillery can manage to find the sweet spot with water, I'm all for reduced spirits in bottle. The beauty of this 20 year old Caol Ila is that it's at cask strength, but has naturally reduced itself to the perfect 46% ABV (exactly where many distilleries will reduce to). The result is the closest thing I've ever tasted to that legendary 18 year bottle that is now just a memory. The nose is simply haunting; an enticing combination of vanilla, creme brulee, and campfire embers. The whisky rolls over your tongue with creaminess and texture, but it leaves a trail of peat smoke in its wake. If you want the perfect Islay whisky, this is it. It doesn't get much better than this. Buy three if you can afford it.

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