When I bought some samples from couple well respected e-shops, including several from Archives series (bottling label from Whiskybase - e-shop and huge whisky notes and information archive), I was wiling to try not only several old malts, but also well esteemed Caol Ila malts from Archives and other bottlers. So I took two from them and one from Mackillops.
This time I start from the oldest one, cause it has least strength (all three are CS this time, I love it!). So I take a sip of Caol Ila 1982 (Archives), then Caol Ila 1990 (Archives) and Caol Ila 17 Year Old 1990 Sherrywood (Mackillops). Interesting coincidence this time – latter two are of the same strength (56,3%), despite the fact they have different age (but the same vintage) and are from different casks.
So I start with the oldest, lowest in alcohol - Caol Ila 1982, 30 year old. Surprises me well on its aroma and the taste – typical zesty and peppery character is complimented with nice fruity notes. Very delicate and worth attention and time. I enjoy it slowly and for a long time (I have less than 20ml only!).
Another, from the same series (Archives), bit younger, but similar in character. I do not find the fruitiness I had before. More salt, more maritime. Also salted fish, anchovies. I have several friends who love these “salt bombs”.
Grabbing third I’m hoping to have some variety – this one is sherry matured. Even the alcohol level is the same as with the previous, this one is bit harsher. Besides nutty notes I couldn’t find other significant typical sherried whisky notes. With some time and water this malt opened as typical Caol Ila – with salty and zesty notes.
I had to little malts tasted (I think around 400-500 for now), that I could generalize without a caution, but according experience I have, that mid-aged malts from Caol Ila (18-29 year old) usually have lots of salty character with lemon notes. If you fancy more smoke, you should always look to younger ones. If variety, interesting character and fruity notes are the option, it’s worth looking for older ones. Nice fruitiness with zesty notes in Caol Ila 1982 archives mesmerized me..