From two absolute Scottish whisky legends – the Caol Ila distillery in Port Askaig and independent Bottler Signatory Vintage, this month a classic 11-year-old non-chill-filtered Islay spirit/bourbon single malt for the ages – From their ‘Un-Chillfitered Collection’ – The Signatory Vintage Caol Ila 2012!

The Signatory Vintage Caol Ila 2012 is distilled in the Caol Ila distillery in Port Askaig, Islay. It is a blend of 5 ex-bourbon hogsheads, all laid down together in June 2012 and bottled (without chill-filtering) in July 2023 giving an 11 year old, sublimely peated whisky.

Signatory Vintage is recognized as one of the world’s leading independent bottling labels. Their ‘Un-Chill Filtered Collection’ is particularly notable for its dedication to preserving the natural flavours and characteristics of whisky by avoiding chill filtration, a common process in the whisky industry.

Signatory Vintage Caol Ila 2012

Chill filtration is used by many whisky producers to remove compounds that can cause cloudiness or haziness when the whisky is chilled or diluted with water. While this method improves the visual clarity of the whisky, it also strips away some of the flavour and texture components that enhance the overall drinking experience.

In contrast, the Signatory Vintage Un-chill Filtered Range skips chill filtration, allowing the whiskies to retain their full flavour profile and mouthfeel. This approach results in whiskies that may exhibit greater depth, richness, and complexity, as well as a more robust texture on the palate.

Signatory Vintage Caol Ila 2012

OUR TASTING NOTES

Nose: Sometimes the nose is gloriously all about the peat. And this is one of those times. Lovely tarry notes, kelp-ey iodone and campfires a-plenty. But there’s a lovely salted toffee note there too which both subdues and yet also ‘pops’ the peaty notes.

Palate: This is remarkably tame on the palate. Beautiful crisp and clean spirit, with lovely integration of the alcohol at this abv, with no spiky edges at all! And yet there’s certainly no lack of flavour here; lovely vanilla and citrus pie notes and a surprising jube-lolly burst as well. And of course more of those lovely peaty notes, and let’s be honest… that’s why we’re here, isn’t it!

Finish: Caol Ila never fails to deliver a fantastic finish. It’s one of the things that really defines this distillery for me. And this is no exception. Smokey, tarry, salty and sweet and just so persistent and delicious on the palate it’ll stifle conversation (until someone says ‘can I have another’? !

This is one of those ‘classic’ whisky combinations. Caol Ila aged in ex-bourbon casks. No complicated finishing program, no ‘weird’ oaks, no ‘left field’ flavour profiles. Just classic, clean, and most definitely peated Caol Ila spirit in best quality American oak. Sometimes a ‘classic’ just hits the spot. And this is very much one of those whiskies.

  • PRICE : $135

  • ABV : 46%

  • BOTTLE : 700ml

  • REGION : SCOTLAND (ISLAY)

  • PEATED : YES

  • CHILL FILTERED: NO

Signatory Vintage Caol Ila 2012

A 7+7 triple maturation (Apera, then first fill Apera, then maple syrup) release from Indy Bottler, Whisky in Isolation

FROM SIGNATORY VINTAGE

Tasting Notes:

NOSE: Peppery crackers and bonfires on the beach. A hint of peanut butter on toast
TASTE: Milky tea, soft smoke and dried mango. Some vanilla-y influence in the background
FINISH: Lingering filo pastry and coastal air notes

Signatory Vintage Caol Ila 2012

ABOUT SIGNATORY VINTAGE

Signatory Vintage are an independent bottler founded in 1988 by Andrew and Brian Symington. The name ‘Signatory’ was derived from the initial intention to find a person of suitable standing to sign the labels for bottles drawn from a single cask. The first cask bottled was a 1968 Glenlivet which quickly sold through long before any suitable signee could be found.

Signatory currently bottle at three strengths: 43%, 46% Unchillfiltered (UCF) and Cask Strength. To add proof of authenticity to their cask strength bottlings, Signatory always include the cask numbers, date of distillation, date of bottling and number of bottles produced. Signatory Vintage’s aim is to offer as wide a range of whiskies as possible, some of which are not even bottled by the proprietary distillery. This allows malt enthusiast to sample the huge variety of subtle differences which occur between casks.

In 2002 Signatory Vintage expanded their business operations by acquiring the Edradour distillery in Pitlochry from Pernod Ricard. For what is one of the smallest distilleries in Scotland, Signatory manage to produce a huge variety of Edradour bottlings, including a vast selection of Straight From The Cask finishes, as well as a heavily peated Ballechin.

ABOUT CAOL ILA

Founded in 1846 by Hector Henderson, Caol Ila has changed hands several times, even with some silent periods through the 30’s and 40’s. It was completely knocked down and rebuilt in 1974 by it’s current owner Diageo. Interestingly, the original still designs were replicated for the new distillery – and the number was increased from 2 to 6 stills – effectively tripling production.

Today Caol Ila produces around 3.5 Million litres of raw spirit annually, which is a lot of whisky. Up until 2002, the ‘modern’ Caol Ila concentrated on making whisky for the blended Scotch whisky brands that Diageo produced. Caol Ila is the core of Johnny Walker Black Label and also plays a major role in building Bells, White Horse, Scottish Leader and Black Bottle blended Scotch whiskies.