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Caol Ila 12 vs Oban 14: Head to Head!

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

Caol Ila 12

  • 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 is the best option for those who want to start drinking peaty whisky but are not ready to deal with overpowering smoky notes like in the Ardbeg 10 or Laphroaig.

This whisky is more similar to whiskies like the Bowmore 12 just that better as the latter feels a bit thin and lacking in flavors.

I’ve included Caol Ila in the list of the best single malt whiskies aged for 12 years reflecting how good it is.

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 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.

Oban 14

  • Nose: Ripe fruit, citrus peel, smoke.
  • Palate: Dried fruit, pear, apple, baking spice, smoke.
  • Finish: Long, oak, baking spice, salt.

The nose is quite good as it kicks-off with a ripe fruit note, along citrus peel and a touch of smoke.

On the palate, Oban 14 provides a nice mouthfeel as the body feels creamy. Flavor hits with dried fruit at first, followed by pear and apple shrouded in baking spice and a gentle tad of smoke.

The finish is long and pleasantly warm, leaving an aftertaste of oak, baking spice and salt.

Oban 14 has a very pleasant smoky taste that doesn’t overwhelm other notes making it a good choice for those who want smoke in moderation when compared to Smoky Islay Malts that offer blasts of smoke.

This is a nice and easy sip that you can drink either neat or adding a dash of water bringing additional sweetness and more oak, although I like it as is.

This single malt was aged for 14 years in ex-bourbon barrels and you can tell as there are many bourbon-like notes in it. So if you are fond of this liquor and want to add a tad of smoke Oban is a no-brainer.

Oban is one of Scotland’s smallest distilleries as it only has 2 pot stills, making it a midget when compared to Glenfiddich that has 30.

It dates back to 1794 when it was founded by the brothers John and Hugh Stevenson in the Port of Oban which was named after the distillery and not the other way around!

Overall, this is pretty good single malt Scotch for those who want restrained smoky notes.

Discover how it compares to the Lagavulin 16!

There are a few facts worth knowing about this whisky:

  • Bottled at 86 proof (43% ABV).

  • Oban ages for 14 years in ex-bourbon barrels.

  • Earned a Gold Medal at the 2013 International Wine & Spirit Competition.

What do Caol Ila and Oban have in common?

Both are owned by London-based Diageo

Caol Ila and Oban are part of Diageo’s extensive list of brands that includes big names like Johnnie Walker, Bulleit Bourbon, Talisker among 200 other names.

Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

Caol Ila 12$83
Oban 14$95

Caol Ila 12 vs Oban 14: Which is better?

Both are equally good and frugal on the smoke

WhiskeyCaol Ila 12Oban 14
  • This is one of those few cases in which there is “no better” as these whiskies are equally good, with similar flavor profiles with limited amount of smoke.

  • It might all come down to a matter of price making me prefer the Caol Ila which is a tad cheaper.

The good news is that you can’t go wrong with these malts as they are very similar.

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