Single malt whisky - tasting notes

16 Dec 2013

Caol Ila Stitchell Reserve

Tasting notes by Ruben Luyten - Posted in Caol Ila

Caol Ila Stitchell Reserve is named after Billy Stitchell, the distillery manager who is retiring this year after almost 40 years. It is the eight edition of unpeated Caol Ila in Diageo’s Special Releases and the most affordable offer in the whole series.

This NAS cask strength Caol Ila was matured in a combination of American oak, rejuvenated American oak and European ex-bodega casks.


Caol Ila Stitchell ReserveCaol Ila ‘Stitchell Reserve’
(59,6%, OB 2013)

Nose: sweet and fudgy, but with a surprisingly grassy, almost tannic profile. Corn flakes, some vanilla. Lots of lemons, both zesty and candied ones. Some resinous notes and varnish. Liquorice. Mouth: oily mouthfeel, very sweet again (icing sugar, toffee, fruit jelly candy), but very grassy / oaky as well. Liquorice and herbs. Lemons and yellow plums. Raisins, especially with a few drops of water. Freshly sawn oak, a bit too much if you ask me. Pine sap. Finish: long, grassy with plenty of wood spices alongside the sweet malt and lemon zest.

I’m not entirely sure about this one. It has an attractive sweet side, nice lemon and the firm Coal Ila character (even without peat), but the wood spices are firmly kicking around. There’s little development as well. Around € 75.

Score: 83/100

Caol Ila Stitchell Reserve 3 Ruben Luyten 2013-12-16
  • pb

    This had some very conflicting tastes. Without ice, I found it almost unbearable (maybe my palate isn’t ready for 60% ABV)…but, without ice, there was a strong burn. With ice, the profile changed—just not sure if it was for the better. There was definitely a strong citrusy taste, with grassy okay aftertaste. But, there was this lingering spicy taste, which is what was conflicting against the initial grassy citrusy. Would I buy again? NO.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Why are you drinking this with ice? WTF!
    Guaranteed to kill most of the flavours.

  • Charlie Byrd

    Billy Pilgrim…on behalf of experienced whiskey enthusiasts everywhere: thank-you! When getting to know a whiskey, a few carefully measured drops of (good) water; as you get to know it won’t hurt (to see if it likes water…Talisker Storm for example, ironically; DOES NOT)…Once you know, go from there, but Never add ice…yes different flavors emerge with ice but rarely- very rarely; does it ever improve it. Temperature is of great importance…dilution or not…temp is a major factor…to get the most out of your whiskey, five things: 1) experiment with different paletting techniques. 2) Hand-warm to explore the nose…the glass should never feel noticeably warm in the hand, and should never feel cold- nose at close intervals during hand-warming or you’re likely to miss many undertones and nuances…for 1 and 2 try different levels of water as well as straight. 3) never add ice unless really really bored and don’t mind wasting good liquid. 4) get a variety of glasses to play with- it makes a difference- mainly on the nose but palette as well (olfactory connects aromas to taste buds). 5) ask the store keep for the driest whiskey he has in your price range- if you can’t palette it in a way that brings out the hidden sweetness, then you’ve failed step one: try it again…and again…there’s sweetness in every whiskey no matter how dry it may seem…it’s there- find it and you’ll find many other flavors that were hiding from you…that or chase a better experience by shelling out more cash.



March 2015
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1751 notes by Ruben

WhiskyNotes - Ruben LuytenThis blog is my personal collection of impressions, written while searching for the ultimate single malt whisky.