So much whisky, so little time | Singapore | Tasting Notes

Caol Ila 18yo Sestante 57% Sherrywood (circa 1978) vs Caol Ila 14yo Sestante for Novocento 64.3% (1978)

This is whisky from a closed distillery. No, Caol Ila is very much open for business. But this Caol Ila was distilled at the old distillery before it’s 1972 complete reconstruction. Old Caol Ila was a smaller simpler affair, with 2 stills and sitting off a bumpy twisty country road up from Port Askaig. New Caol Ila is a malt machine with 6 stills though it still sits off the same bumpy twisty road. Tanker trucks plying the route simply wait for each other to pass at the widened rest stops placed every 200m or so, and with 6 stills and no on site maturation (the warehouses are full of Lagavulin) you do need a lot of tanker trucks.

I have been scrubbing the internet for picture of the old Caol Ila distillery, but managed just these two, which I must give the fantastic whiskystory.com credit for.

Caol Ila old distillery

Caol Ila old distillery 2


**EDIT – I have been informed that these 2 were bottled in 1988 rather than 1978. I see conflicting information online, but 88 does sound more plausible.**

Caol Ila 18yo Sestante 57% Sherrywood, bottled circa 1988

Caol Ila Sestante 18

Nose Nose: Rather subtle for 57% I think. But integration is up there. Cough syrup, tarred rope, pine smoke, some resinous rich incense. Tobacco leaf and old wax rubbed into old oak. Fair amount of maritime scents too, salty briney, puffer smoke engine oil, touch of citric sourness. Something in that does say new Caol Ila too.

Taste Palate: Yes. It is all that, wonderful in parts and as a whole. Say no more. Alright maybe more ash and cured meats on the tongue. Resinous, smoky, gently maritime. Is rather a tad light for its 57%

Finish Finish: Long, tar and oiled hemp, salty nets. Dried resinous smoke.


First things first, less overtly peaty and smokey than modern Caol Ila, but again the styles are rather different! A rich but medium phenolic depth here amazing stuff.


Caol Ila 14yo Sestante 64.3% bottled after 1988 

**EDIT: Unsure about dating on this one. If indeed later than 1988, then this distillate is from the new distillery.**

Caol Ila Sestante 14 64.3

Nose Nose: Ouch. Massive at 64.3. Straight razor sharp and lemony clean grassy green sappy notes. Crystal clear and slightly green as well. Water soothes it a bit, but nothing’s changed. Clean and barley sweet lots of candied lemon. A glass of seawater and an old candle.

Taste Palate: Don’t drink this neat. Intense peppery explosive. What’s that about Talisker? What you get when you distill mace and cold revenge. 10,000 lemons, with branches and sappy leaves. Water: Releases some almond oil, and shows it to be a bit more viscous than lava hot. But still completely steely and sharp. This will cut a steak and greasy fries into a thousand digestible chunks.

Finish Finish: Medium long, sharp crystalline clear.


What?! Completely different from the 18yo, its a surprise to say the least. This is brutal stuff that could really be in a Rare Malts bottle no problem. Or a freak cask? Shows a much tougher side of old Caol Ila.

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This entry was posted on May 26, 2016 by in Caol Ila and tagged .
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