Caol Ila 2004 Connoisseurs Choice Hermitage Wood Finish 45% abv.

As part of a recent tweet tasting for the Gordon & Macphail to mark the relaunch of its portfolio, I got to try this 2004 Caol Ila from the Connoisseurs Choice range. It is one of the wood finishes for the range, with the Caol Ila matured in a mixture of First fill Bourbon and Refill American Casks. Spending 10 years in these casks before finishing its maturation in Hermitage casks for a further 3 years.

Like all the new bottles from the range the label contains lots of information, from the tasting notes to the story of this spirits journey. This includes the date distilled and bottled, age, cask types and the number of bottles released. So with this in mind how was the experience..


Nose: Initial huge note of struck matches/ sulphur, smoked salmon, red fruits, cranberries, raspberries etc., gentle honey note in the background,a touch of carbolic soap, with some time in the glass a very subtle lemon grass/mint note appears..

Palate: Nice soft peaty note, lots of sweet fruit, cherries,raspberries all drizzled in rich honey, a hint of oak, nice cracked black pepper hit, a very subtle hint of sulphur that actually benefits the experience.

Finish: Medium in length with a light pepper spice, quite gentle for a peated whisky, very moreish..

Ok this is a complex one in many different ways, when I first nosed this the initial note of matches and sulphur isn’t the most pleasant. Yes I know not everyone is going to get this note, if you do though stay with it because it does develop into something quite special. With a bit of time to open the other notes do come through, giving you a much more multi-layered nose to appreciate.


The palate is something else, here in my opinion the matches/sulphur note that almost put me off the dram, work and are a benefit. They are subtle and balance out the sweetness and peat note, making it intriguing and moreish. One that you keep wanting to go back to, looking to see what else you can discover hidden away in the depths. I’m not sure if this will be a Marmite dram, with you either loving or hating it but for my family it has been.

If I’m being truly honest I’d have to say initial it wasn’t looking good for this expression, even though it was probably the one I was most looking forward to. The initial nose was off putting but giving it another go and seeing it develop, well that changed my opinion about it. Its might not be to everyone’s flavour but it does have something about it, that just keeps you hooked..


G&M Connoisseurs Choice Montage 46 CS WF-2.jpg

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