Caol Ila 22 1990 Dun Bheagan

So we’re still at Via Allegro, the restaurant that purports to have many whiskies and never can serve them when I order them, thus it’s also the last time I’m showing up to spend copious amounts of money on whisky there, and recommend you go anywhere else if you’d like a selection of whisky (the food and wine were very nice).

In what I’ll call lucky, I actually got what I ordered for the last whisky! Yes, I was going to contemplate a $200 Islay or Campbeltown that would be pretty epic, but given the previous order spree and how long it took to get everything while in a mostly empty restaurant, I settled for Caol Ila 22 1990 Dun Bheagan.

If you’d like to see my previous journey to order an accurate whisky, please see my review of the Deveron 18.

So why did I pick Caol Ila 22 1990 Dun Bheagan?

My original plan was to do what I normally do on my birthday: Order from at least 4 regions, typically Lowland (cause I am a slut for good Lowland whisky), Highland (to keep me balanced since it’s my least favourite region overall), Speyside (allows my wife to choose one at random and gives her a vast selection) and then Islay (cause Campbeltown Scotch are rare to find and I do love Islay).

So let’s stick to the plan, right? A double cask of 22-year-old Caol Ila that was released in 2012 and either had the Angel’s as bullies or the lovely people at Dun Bheagan decided to water it down to make more money (my personal money is on the latter).

So how does it taste? Let’s see, shall we?

Price: € 145

Region: Islay

Vintage: March 1990

Bottled: 2012

Cask type: Hogshead

Cask numbers: 3704/3705

Number of bottles: 593

Abv: 48.0%

Colour: 7.5Y 9/6

Nose: Clean linen, charcoal BBQ, leather, brine, hospital, farmy

Bit of an odd nose at first. You get this clean, lemon/fresh linen note, mixed with someone running a BBQ properly (e.g. perfect temp, not a lot of smoke, more of the meat/smoke flavour).

The nose feels like someone is walking you through the different flavours of Islay, but not overdoing it.

Taste: Peat, anise, club soda, hazelnut, brown sugar

On the one hand, there’s some nice balance here with mineral, spice, sweet and nutty/smoke notes.

On the other, astute readers (you’re a great guy Greg) will note I try to only use the flavour note “peat” or “smoke” when a whisky isn’t that complex, as that’s like saying “grapes” when drinking wine (no, it’s not exactly that, it’s like saying “sugar” when eating cake). So again we’re missing some complexity on this whisky.

Finish: Brown sugar, orange, oak, cinnamon, farm

I typically am not a fan of orange in peated whiskies as they tend to have chocolate flavours and the mixture of orange and chocolate is like nails on my taint (not in a good Las Vegas way). However here, as the peat has worn off, it ends up being closer to an orange you have with breakfast, and doesn’t seem as rough.

Water opens up some farminess, which continues that wide but not deep vibe we’ve been getting.

Conclusion: As long as you ignore the age, it’s a pretty alright Caol Ila. Bit youthful. I’m glad I was able to order it without it being out, and I think I get why.

This is one of those whiskies you bought for the label when you were just starting out and wanted something older without breaking the bank. I didn’t expect a high quality dram (given where I was ordering) and ended up with something that shows off a lot of flavours, if very simple. Maybe if they had released this closer it could have had more depth, however I get the feeling these were two dud casks that worked really nice together and this is the best we could get.

Which sums up my last dram nicely.


Scotch review #1518, Islay review #396, Whisky Network review #2227

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