Caol Ila 2008 13 Year “Old Particular” 56.9%

K&L Wines Single Sherry Cask Selection

I opted for a sample of this K&L bottle simply because I couldn’t resist this Thompson Bros. 8-Year Caol Ila and I had already purchased peated sherry in the 15-Year Ledaig. I enjoy peat and sherry quite a bit, but Caol Ila has never clicked with me as much as other Islay distilleries so I was reserved in purchasing an entire bottle.

This Old Particular bottling is one of 556 bottles charged from a sherry butt. Distilled in September 2008 and bottled in October 2021 with no coloring added and non-chill filtered. Bottled at a cask strength of 56.9%.

Tasted with about 15 minutes of resting time with minimal dilution in a Glencairn. Sampled a second time with 30+ minutes of rest with upwards of 10 drops of water added.

Tasting Notes

I did not expect this color from sherry even if it’s a refill cask. The color is somewhere around white wine to pale gold. Makes me wonder if it’s a Fino sherry cask or perhaps an STR rebuilt sherry butt. Large bubbles that took ages to dissipate and medium-thin legs in the glass.

Floral, smoky, and chemical nose. Mildly fruity with a wildflower bouquet and herbal quality. White peaches, unripe pear, white grapes, and watermelon rind or cucumbers. It’s a delicate smoke of wood embers, dried grasses, and charcoal. Chemical sanitizer or acetone. Clean stainless steel. Wood finishing oil, bee’s wax sealer on a cutting board, pithy citrus zest. Water brings out more alcohol vapors, furthering those iodine and sanitizer notes. Some spices are coaxed out with some pink peppercorn, anise, and toasted cloves.

The flavors on the palate remind me of a dry Chardonnay. That murmur of smoke on the nose is bold on the tongue. Campfire, driftwood, moss, and smoked kelp. It’s like that initial kindling fire of grasses, leaves, and small twigs. A light sweetness to it of vanilla wafers, pie crust, butter cookies, and shortbread. Lemon-lime shaved ice, and partially that pinewood stick flavor. Astringent oaky flavors with a weird fructose tinge. Herbal scalded white tea that’s slightly bitter. Witbier, hoppy grassy flavors. Almost vegetal. Aniseed and mostly peppercorn spices come out with additional water.

The smoke has now crescendoed into a raging bonfire on the finish. Seafood boil. Salty and savory. Lime zest and meringue. Whisky Sour-like flavor or a dry German Reisling. Herbaceous and grassy and again this slightly scalded white tea note. It’s a park full of clover fields and tall grass. Oats, cereals, granola with honey. The astringency drops off on the finish but so does that malty sweetness I was beginning to enjoy.


While I am not enamored with this bottle, I am intrigued by it. This is probably one of the better Caol Ila expressions I’ve tasted at this age. It is difficult to explain everything as this is rather complex in character.

I do wish it pushed further into the brine and seaweed essence that is only hinted at here. I especially enjoy that salinity in peated whiskies. The vegetation notes would have elevated this further for me with a little touch of that seaside, Islay personality.

Despite my nitpicking qualms, this is an easy bottle to recommend. The price is outstanding and for this complex of a dram, you’re sure to find an enjoyable experience in this bottle.

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