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Caol Ila 12 vs Clynelish 14: Discover the Better!

Discover the differences between Caol Ila 12 vs Clynelish 14 in this in-depth comparison and decide which Malt is better for You!

Caol Ila 12

NoseSmoked ham, apple, pear
PalateRed fruit, caramel, vanilla, lemon zest
FinishLong, smoke, oak spice
Alcohol content86 proof (43% ABV)
How to drinkNeat or add water
Similar toBowmore 12, Oban 14

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 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.

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

  • Caol Ila is aged for a minimum of 12 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.

Clynelish 14

NoseCitrus, baking spice, smoke
PalateHoney, pepper, ripe fruit, smoke
FinishLong, bittersweet, mineral
Alcohol content92 proof (46% ABV)
How to drinkNeat or add water
Similar toOban 14, Talisker 10

The nose is subtle and pleasant with hints of citrus at first, followed by cinnamon, nutmeg and a touch of smoke.

On the palate, the Clynelish feels waxy. Flavor hits with a bit of pepper up-front, yet nothing severe, and as you let it develop honey and ripe fruit appear, along subtle smoke.

The finish is long and bittersweet with a mineral touch to it.

Clynelish 14 is a nice and tasty easy drinker. It is complex, creamy, rich in malt, smooth, striking a nice balance between fruity and spicy notes.

It has a subtle taste and warmth which pleasantly lingers giving a touch of peat in the after taste.

Its mouthfeel can be a bit peppery at times but I strongly suggest to take your time with this Scotch, let it develop in the glass and add a bit of water.

The Clynelish becomes remarkably better with just a few drops of water as it opens-up nicely.

Overall, Clynelish is a Highland Whisky, displaying some of the peaty notes that you would expect to find in an Islay Whisky and the sweet and smooth notes from a Speyside Scotch making it particularly interesting.

There are a few facts worth knowing about the Clynelish 14:

  • Aged for 14 years in bourbon and sherry barrels.
  • The original Clynelish distillery was built in 1819, next to the present operational Clynelish distillery, which was built in 1967.
  • Clynelish is the successor to Brora which closed in 1983.
  • This brand is owned by Diageo, the British spirits giant, who also owns Johnnie Walker among several other brands.
  • 95% of Clynelish distillery productions goes into Johnnie Walker’s blends and is major contributor to the Gold Label.

Caol Ila 12 vs Clynelish 14: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

Caol Ila 12$84
Clynelish 14$75

Caol Ila 12 vs Clynelish 14: Which is better?

Similar whiskies light on the smoke

WhiskeyCaol Ila 12Clynelish 14
  • The Caol Ila 12 is marginally better as it delivers a more pleasant finish, although it’s a bit pricey for a 12 year old Single Malt.
  • The Clynelish requires water and a bit of patience to fully be enjoyed as it can feel peppery on the first sips.

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