Showing posts with label 20 Years. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 20 Years. Show all posts

Caol Ila 1995 (Douglas Laing) Review

“Have Yourself a Peaty Little Christmas”  

Whisky Review # 849

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Caol Ila 1995 (Distilled in January 1995)
Bottled by: Douglas Laing (Old Particular Series) in August 2015 - 282 Bottles
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Scotch Whisky - Cask # DL 10870
Age: 20 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 51.5%
Maturation: Refill Hogshead
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: Around US$ 170 (December 2019)
Price/Quality Ratio: Okay - 20 Year old Single Malt can't be cheap.
Buying Advice: 😐It's good but there are better Caol Ila options at this price.

Colour: Chardonnay (Natural Colour)


I love the coastal Aromas of well-matured Islay Malt. This Caol Ila is still quite fresh for a 20 year old Single Malt. I wouldn't say that cask # 10870 was a very active one though. The Nose is slightly underwhelming. There's a bit of Alcohol in the air so don't poke your Nose in the middle of the glass. The Nose is good but not great.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Slightly Burnt Toast, Coastal Peat (Wet Earth), Cold Smoke, Ash, Soot, Iodine, Fish & Shellfish, Gas Station, Vanilla, Banana-Flavoured Yogurt, Tropical Fruit like Pineapple & Papaya and Green Vegetables.     
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Honey, Salted Butter, Tar, Wet Grass, Farmyard, Band-Aid, Wet Sand, Apple-Vinegar, Menthol, Rubber, Leather, Olive-Oil and Dried Herbs.


Sweet and only ever so slightly Sharp. All the Flavours of mature Islay are there for you to enjoy.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Toasted Barley, Vanilla, Salted Butter, Wax, Cold Cigar Smoke, Wet Peat, Ashes, Soot, Brine, Toasted Oak, Fish & Shellfish on the BBQ, Lemon, Tobacco, Banana-Flavoured Yogurt, Aniseed and Menthol.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Honey, Caramel, Tar, Iodine, Band-Aid, Caffe Latte, Dried Herbs, Olive Oil, Apple- Vinegar and Pepper.       


Quite Long and remarkably Sweet. Medium-Dry. A light Bitterness of the Oak. It invites you to have another sip! I find Sweet Toasted Barley, Soft Wet Peat, Cigar Smoke, Ashes, Soot, Tar, Iodine, Brine, Vanilla, Salted Butter, Caffe Latte, Wet Stones, Lemon-Pepper, Leather, Diesel, Aniseed and Menthol.

Drinking Advice:

Added Water does not improve this Caol Ila. Better sip it neat.

Rating: 86

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Quite Nice.


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.

Well-Matured Islay Malt is certainly one of my favourite types of Scotch Whisky. Therefore, it won't come as a surprise that I liked this Caol Ila. I liked it but I didn't love it. I believe this could have been a great Single Malt when a First-Fill Bourbon cask would have been used. There are enough of those around so I can't quite follow the reasoning for using a Refill cask to mature a good Islay Spirit for 20 Years. I'm just saying! It' s still a very enjoyable Single Malt but I would choose other Caol Ila options at this price level.

I would like to wish all readers of Best Shot Whisky Reviews a very Merry and Malty Christmas. May the good Spirit always be with you!


Jan van den Ende                                                              December 24, 2019

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2014

Miltonduff 1987 (Private Cellar) Review

“The Heart of Ballantine’s”

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Miltonduff 1987
Bottled By: Forbes Ross & Co Ltd, Rutherglen (Private Cellar Series)
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 20 Years
ABV: 43% 
Chill-Filtration: No 
Whisky Review # 597
Buying Advice: 😒  Negative. Too expensive for what it offers.

Colour: Golden (Natural Colour)

Nose: Based on Colour and Aroma I assume that this Miltonduff matured most likely in Refill Ex-Bourbon Casks. Be sure to give this Malt enough time in the glass as the Aromas are liberated quite slowly. My first impression is Strawberry Yogurt and that's quite unusual. On the Nose this Miltonduff is quite Light and a bit Introvert. The casks have not been very active. I further find traces of Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Honey, Vanilla, Pancakes with Maple Syrup, Citrus Peel, Apple, Pear, Banana, Pineapple, Peach, Resin, Floral Perfume, Grass, Nutella, Oak, Wax and Cinnamon.  

Palate: The Delivery is on the Light side. This Malt would have been better when bottled at 46%. On the Palate this Miltonduff is Bitter-Sweet and presents some Toasted Cereals, Barley Sugar, Vanilla, Caramel, Salted Almonds, light Honey, Lemon, Grapefruit, Oak, light Licorice, light Aniseed, Pepper, Cinnamon, light Tobacco, Wax, light tropical Fruit (Pineapple or perhaps Banana) and Cocoa.   

Finish: Rather Short, Bitter-Sweet and slightly Herbal with some Acid - and Metallic tones as well. I find Toasted Cereals, Salted Almonds, Grapefruit Juice, Vanilla, Oak, light Tobacco, Dried Herbs, Pepper, light Menthol, light Aniseed, light Licorice, Lemon and, after a while,  Strawberry-Flavoured Milk Chocolate. 

I added a little Water and on the Nose you will get more Malty and Floral notes. Some Banana Ice Cream as well. Palate and Finish do not improve however.

Rating: 83.5 

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21 - Finish: 20 - Overall: 21

General Remarks:

This distillery was founded in 1824 and is located in Elgin. A huge reconstruction of the distillery took place in 1974. It changed hands various times over the years but since 2005 it is owned by Chivas Brothers (Pernod Ricard). Most of the production is destined for the Chivas blends. More specifically, Miltonduff and Glenburgie form the heart of Ballantine's. You don't encounter many official Distillery Single Malts so you need to look for Indies. Forbes Ross was founded in 1953. Their current status is dissolved however. You can still find this Malt on the Internet. I've seen prices in the US Dollar 100/150 range (February 2017).

Drinking Experience Neat: Good but without any Wow factor.

Conclusion: I'm not impressed by this Miltonduff, especially when you consider the current price level. It's not bad but it misses character and personality. I can see why most of the output of the distillery disappears in the Ballantine's Blend. Not at all my favourite Blend by the way. Some excellent casks could have given the Spirit a Face lift. I must conclude however that the casks weren't very active. This was only my first mature Miltonduff so unfortunately I can't make any comparisons. I will try to get some additional samples from more renowned Independent Bottlers like Gordon & MacPhail. Maybe that can change my mind about this Distillery. For the time being however I can't recommend this Single Malt as it is currently too expensive for what it offers.

Jan van den Ende                                                               February 24, 2017

Bunnahabhain 1991 (Berry Bros & Rudd) Review

“Restrained Power”

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Bunnahabhain 1991 (Berry Bros & Rudd - Berry's Own Selection) 
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 20 Years
ABV: 46.1 %

Colour: Golden Straw (Natural Colour)

Nose: Sweet and Discrete. Very Light Peat and Smoke in the background. The Alcohol is not totally integrated. I find Sweet Barley, Butterkekse, Grass, Hay, Toffee, Brown Sugar, Vanilla, Orchard Fruit, Melon Juice, light Mandarin, Oak, Toasted and Salted Nuts, light Spices and hints of Marzipan, Chocolate and Banana-Flavoured Candies. It's remarkably Fresh for a 20 Year Old Single Malt. The bottle does not state in what type of Cask this Bunnahabhain matured but I'm pretty sure it was a good, medium-toasted Ex-Bourbon barrel. It's a very clean and pleasant nose but I would have expected more complexity after 20 Years in the cask.   

Palate: Sweet, moderately Spicy and a little Waxy. Good Balance. Still quite Fresh although the Oak is there of course. I find Sweet Toasted Barley, Grass, Straw, Vanilla, Toffee, Apple, Banana, Melon, Mandarin, Herbs, Salted Nuts, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Mint and a touch of Smoke and Licorice. The Alcohol is nicely integrated at this stage.
Finish: Middle-Long, Malty, Creamy and moderately Spicy. Dry towards the end. The quality Oak is more noticeable now but it certainly does not dominate. I find Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Toffee, Straw, fresh Herbs, Apple, Melon, ripe Banana, Mandarin, creamy Milk Chocolate, Pepper, a little Salt, Cardamom, Licorice and Cinnamon. The faintest hint of Smoke gives some support.
I only had a small sample and just smelled and tasted it neat.

Rating: 86.5  

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 22 - Finish: 21.5 - Overall: 21.5

General Remarks: The Single Cask Bunnahabhain I'm tasting today was distilled in 1991. It matured for 20 years in Cask # 5525 and was bottled at CS in 2012 by Indie Bottler Berry Bros. & Rudd. It is Non Chill-Filtered and is sold at around 90 US Dollars.

Bunnahabhain (Mouth or Foot of the River) Distillery was founded around 1881 and is located close to Port Askaig. Usually, the Distillery dries the Malt with hot air or light Smoke, giving their whisky a more subtle flavour then most of its Peated neighbours on the island.

Drinking Experience Neat: Very Nice.  

Conclusion: I really enjoyed this Bunnahabhain, especially on the Palate. The Nose is pleasant but quite discrete given its age. It's on the Palate that this Malt shows its hand. Not overly complex but well-balanced and with a restrained Power. Quite liked it. The Finish is still good but the Oak is more noticeable by now. If you can find it at 90 US Dollars you can safely buy it. You won't regret it. This Bunnahabhain shows that Islay Whisky can be so much more than just Iodine, Peat, Tar and Brine. Well done! 

Jan van den Ende                                                                    March 17, 2016

Visit May 2014 (Closed Unfortunately)