Caol Ila 1988 (Carn Mor) Review


“Isn’t It a Pity”

Whisky Review # 874

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Caol Ila 1988 (Distilled on December 1, 1988)
Bottled By: Morrison & MacKay
Bottled for: Carn Mor (Celebration of the Cask Series) on August 18, 2015
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Scotch Whisky - Cask # 4213
Age: 26 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 57% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon Hogshead - 135 Bottles
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 350-390 (May 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎Too expensive for what it offers
Buying Advice: 😐 It's good but it lacks Balance and Complexity.

Colour: Golden (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Be sure to give this Caol Ila enough time in the glass before Nosing. The first impressions are Smoke, Earthy Peat, Wood and a few Burnt notes. The Alcohol is present so you will need to find your way around it. I do not find an awful lot of complexity here. I must admit I'm slightly disappointed as I expected more after 26 years.

Main Aromas:

Malted and Toasted Barley, Burnt Toast, Salted Butter, Burnt Heather, Charred Oak, Dirty Smoke, Wet Clay mixed with Cow Manure and Straw, Cigar Ashes, Soot, Toasted Pineapple, Roasted Coffee, Lemon, Olive Oil, Leather, Aniseed, Herbal Tea, Licorice, Pepper and Ginger.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Vanilla, Brine, Iodine, Tar, Burnt Rubber, Varnish, Toasted Nuts, Bacon and Shellfish on the BBQ, Wet Rocks, Grapefruit, Apple-Vinegar, Yeast, Mango, Tobacco, Cinnamon and Cloves.


Palate:

My favourite part of this Caol Ila. I find the Nose rather on the plain side and the Finish slightly Messy and quite Woody and Spicy. On the Palate, Coastal notes, Smoke/Peat, Wood, Spices and Fruit are a bit more in line.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Burnt Heather, Dirty Smoke and Earthy Peat, Soot, Cigar Ashes, Mix of Straw and Cow Manure, Charred Oak, Lemon, Grapefruit, Toasted Pineapple, Leather, Pepper, Aniseed, Menthol, Licorice and Ginger.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Toffee, Honey, Brine, Iodine, Smoked Bacon, Fish & Shellfish, Apple-Vinegar, Wax, Cherry-Flavoured Mints, Tobacco, Herbal Tea, Cinnamon and Nutmeg.

     

Finish:

Middle-Long/Long. Sweet with additional Bitter, Salty & Sour notes for balance. The Alcohol remains quite present. Lots of Wood and Wood Spices as well. I find Toasted Barley, Salted Caramel/Butter, Vanilla, Dirty Smoke, Earthy Peat, Soot, Tar, Brine, Iodine, Ashes, Wet Rocks, Roasted Coffee, Dark Chocolate, Charred Oak, Grapefruit, Lemon, Smoked Salmon, Roasted Nuts, Herbal Tea, Tobacco, Leather, Toasted Pineapple, Apple-Vinegar, Pepper, Menthol, Cinnamon, Aniseed and Ginger.

Drinking Advice:

I added a bit of Water and the Alcohol retreats on the Nose and gives way to a few Fruity notes like Apricot or Peach. Banana perhaps. The Malt also becomes easier on the Palate and in the Finish although Menthol and Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup start to dominate the latter. Considering it all my advise would  be to add a few drops of Water in this case.

Rating: 87

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 22.5 - Finish: 21.5 - Overall: 21.5

Drinking Experience Neat: Good. I expected more though.

Conclusion:

The Caol Ila Distillery was founded in 1846 and is located close to Port Askaig on Islay. It was bought by DCL in 1927 and through some mergers is now part of Diageo. The distillery was rebuilt in 1974 and only one old Warehouse reminds us of former days. Traditionally, Caol Ila is an important component of Blends like Johnnie Walker, Bell's and White Horse. But during the last 15 years Diageo has made great efforts to position the Distillery as a Single Malt as well. Caol Ila is beautifully located alongside the strait between Islay and Jura. The Core range includes the 12, 18 and 25 Years, the Distiller's Edition as well as the NAS Moch. We enjoyed both our visits to the distillery in 2014 and 2017 respectively despite the fact that you're not allowed to take pictures.

In general I love well-matured Islay Whisky and Caol Ila is one of my favourite distilleries. But despite the fact that this Carn Mor expression is a good Single Malt, it failed to meet my high expectations and it won't rank amongst the best aged Caol Ila Malts I've tasted so far. There's too much Alcohol, Wood, Spice and Smoke to really consider it as being well-balanced. It probably overstayed its time in the cask a little bit. It's still a good Whisky of course but at today's prices I can't really recommend it. What a pity! I was really looking forward to taste this one!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                     May 25, 2020

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2014

No comments: