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Ardbeg 10 vs Caol Ila 12: Discover the Better!

Discover the differences between Ardbeg 10 vs Caol Ila 12 in this in-depth review and decide which Single Malt is better for You!

Ardbeg 10

ardbeg-10
  • Nose: Rich in smoke, ash, coal, caramel and spice.
  • Palate: Smoke, tobacco, coffee and bacon.
  • Finish: Looong, caramel, smoke.

Nose is full of smoke, ash and coal but mellows out into a rich caramel scent as you let it develop in the glass.

On the palate, this malt provides a thick creamy body. Flavor brings a blast of smoke, along notes of tobacco, espresso coffee and a meaty bacon note.

Everything is nicely balanced against caramel notes making it remarkably good.

The finish is long and warming, with smoke, sweet caramel and a dash of black pepper.

Ardbeg 10 is a whisky made for seasoned peat and smoke lovers.

This whisky is complex and delicioussmooth and well-rounded, rich in caramel and smoke, along mineral and sweet notes. This is one of the best malts for smoke enthusiasts.

Few whiskies are as full and rich in peat and smoke than the Ardbeg 10. If you are new to this type of whisky you might find it overwhelming hence don’t expect to like it as much as I do on the first date.

Whiskies of this type are an acquired taste that demand practice to be fully enjoyed. Once you come to terms with it you will find a hard time enjoying traditional Scotch whiskies.

If you feel overwhelmed by the Ardbeg add a few drops of water releasing sweet and floral notes making it easier to drink.

I’ve included the Ardbeg among the best 10 year whiskeys which you should consult to consider further options.

Learn how it compares to other malts from this brand by reading my post: Discover the Best Ardbeg Scotch!

There are a few facts worth knowing about the Ardbeg:

  • Bottled at 92 proof (46% ABV).
  • Aged for 10 years in bourbon barrels.
  • Ardbeg was founded in 1815 and produced in the Scottish island of Islay (pronounced “ai-luh”).
  • Won Gold medal in the 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
  • Jim Murray Whisky Bible: 2008 World Whisky of the Year.
  • Ardbeg does not add caramel-coloring to the whisky.

Caol Ila 12

caol-ila
  • Nose: Smoked ham, apple, pear.
  • Palate: Red fruit, caramel, vanilla, lemon zest.
  • Finish: Long, smoke, oak spice.

The nose has a prominent meaty note that brings a smoked ham-like aroma, followed by hints of apple and pear.

On the palate, Caol Ila provides a thick creamy body. Flavor hits with red fruit and caramel, followed by vanilla sweetness and a touch of lemon zest.

The finish is long, with a bit of spice to it, with a pleasant hit of smoke and an earthy and mineral note making it quite pleasing.

Caol Ila 12 is a creamy and well balanced dram, incredibly smooth and subtle on the palate, with a wonderful and unique nose and a satisfying balance of smoke and spice.

This whisky is not as complex and hard to appreciate as other Islay releases, Caol Ila is lighter and more easy-going but still interesting enough.

Caol Ila is less smoky as it distills in copper-pot stills that are less full maximizing copper contact.

But if you still find too peaty add a few drops of water and it will become more floral and sweeter.

Overall, Caol Ila 12 (Review) is the best option for those who want to start drinking peaty whisky but are not ready to deal with the heavyweights such as Ardbeg, Lagavulin or Laphroaig.

Learn how it compares to the Talisker 10!

There are a few facts worth knowing about this single malt whisky:

  • Bottled at 86 proof (43% ABV).
  • Caol Ila is aged for a minimum of twelve years in traditional oak casks.
  • Earned Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • Won Gold 2014 International Spirits Challenge.
  • Caol Ila Distillery was founded in 1846 by Hector Henderson near Port Askaig on the isle of Islay, Scotland.
  • 95% of Caol Ila’s distillery production is used as part of the blend of the Johnnie Walker Black Label. This whisky is a blend of 40 different whiskies and Caol Ila is part of the blend.
  • Caol Ila is owned by Diageo, the British spirits giant who also holds Johnnie Walker among several other brands.

Ardbeg 10 vs Caol Ila 12: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

WhiskyPrice
Ardbeg 10$62
Caol Ila 12$82

Ardbeg 10 vs Caol Ila 12: Which is better?

Caol Ila is an easier drinker

WhiskeyArdbeg 10Caol Ila 12
Nose
Body
Palate
Finish
Value
  • Caol Ila is easier to like making a safer bet for most consumers as smoke is just a secondary note letting you appreciate sweet tasting notes.
  • Ardbeg is a more demanding malt as it welcomes you with a high smoky note, along cigar ash, to later reward you with entirely satisfying sweet notes.
  • Ardbeg is non chill-filtered whisky, with no artificial caramel-coloring making the better choice for old-schoolers.

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