Caol Ila 11 North Star (2009-2020)

I am yet to be disappointed by a bottle of Caol Ila. It’s a very reliable distillery for independent bottlers looking for that Islay dram to include in their range. It is by far the largest distillery on the island in terms of spirit produced, with a theoretical capacity of 6,500,000 litres per year. Laphroaig comes in second with almost half that at 3,300,000 litres.

I am also yet to be disappointed by anything I have tasted that has been bottled by North Star Spirits. You always seem to get decent value for your money and it appears a great deal of care goes into only bottling good stuff.

This Caol Ila was part of their single cask series 011, released towards the end of 2020, with series 012 following closely behind. The spirit spent 11 years in a single first fill Oloroso sherry butt with 410 bottles produced. It has been bottled at a cask strength of 58.2%, with natural colour and is non-chill filtered.

Nose : Sweet, smoky and medicinal. A can of cola spilled inside a first aid box sums up the initial impact for me. Earthy petrichor with mint and some sage.

Palate : Sweet, fruity and juicy. Raisins, dark espresso coffee, smoked bacon, vanilla, more herbal sage and a good amount of sea salt. The initial sweetness turns more towards bitter with medicinal flavours and a peppery spice lingering for some time on the palate.

Conclusions : I have spent more than a month with this and it was very good from the word go and has only improved with some time open. It is everything you would want from a sherried Islay whisky. The sherry works well with the spirit rather than overpowering it and there is plenty of complexity that makes this worthy of a very decent score. A whisky I will be savouring until the last drop.

Score : 9/10

Vital statistics
ABV : 58.2%
Non-chill filtered : Yes
Natural Colour : Yes
Maturation : From a single first fill ex-oloroso sherry butt
Region : Islay
Colour : Deep Gold

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