Signatory Review – Caol Ila 2010

Today the sun was shining, the temperatures are slowly rising, and I heard the ocean calling me. So, I set out for the shore, for a nice long walk on the beach with my dogs. On the way back I stopped at Slijterij & Wijnhuis Zeewijck to bring my fiancée a treat as well, as she sadly had to work and couldn’t join the rest of us beach bums. I bought her a bottle of Sortilège and once home (without the need to drive anymore) I poured myself this lovely Signatory Vintage Caol Ila 2010 – a sample I received from my drambuddie Michiel (@whisky_in_a_labcoat) – to unwind some more after an already lovely afternoon.

Signatory is one of the biggest Independent Bottlers out there and within their range of whiskies you won’t come up short on choice. In my collection I have several bottles from their Un-Chillfiltered Collection, but they reserve the really good stuff for their Cask Strength Collection. Having never tried one of them before, I got very excited when Michiel shared a sample of his bottle with me. I only now realise that the Murray McDavid was a Caol Ila as well, which makes this two Caol Ila reviews in a row. But when the spirit is as good as this, I can’t say that I mind it all too much. Plus, with the Murray McDavid still fresh in my memory, I’m eager to find out how they stack up to one another. Let’s find out!

Tasting Notes: Signatory Vintage – Caol Ila 2010

ABV: 58,2% (116,4 proof)

Age: 10 years old

Distillery: Caol Ila

Owned by: Diageo

Category: Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Chill-Filtered: No

Natural Colour: Yes


There’s nothing better than the drive home from the beach, while you see the setting sunlight break and shatter on the rolling waves. I find there are few things that relax me more than the sight of it. As you may imagine, this puts me in an excellent mood for a review. So, without further stalling, I poured the Caol Ila 2010 neat into my Glencairn, and set about writing.


Instantly the contrast to the Murray McDavid from last Sunday is immense, where the peat still managed to reach you at arm’s length. Here you really have to dive your nose deep into the glass to notice it at all. The fact that it was fully matured in a Refill Sherry Butt played a huge part in this. Much more than peat, I’m finding dried fruits. Such as strawberries, figs and dates. And the peat that is there is much less coastal than the Murray McDavid was, instead it gives of scents of old leather and refined meats. A note of Peking Duck is one of the more curious I found, yet absolutely love. Adding some water does bring forth a bit of coastal influence to the dram, with fresh saltwater and smoked halibut coming to mind.


On the palate it is just as powerful as the Murray McDavid, yet in a completely different way. The first thing that pops out of the glass is the Peking Duck I also found on the nose, which is enough to make me fall in love with this dram alone. But then there’s also honey, the dates reappear, and molasses covers it all in a rich and sweet coating. The mouthfeel is almost sticky, it’s that syrupy. It brings to mind a BBQ-sauce for some home grilled spareribs. The best BBQ-sauce ever! A little bit of tannins come into play as well here, which makes me think of slightly charred oak. It makes for a very pleasant sidenote to an otherwise lovely sweet and savoury dram. Water pushes the dram more to the sweeter side of things, with a strawberry lemonade quality coming to mind. Some more brine pops up after adding water as well though.


The finish of this dram is long, and it’s the charred wood and dried fruit that sticks around the longest. It’s almost like a spoonful of thick apple jam (Rinse appelstroop for the dutchies), paired with raisins and dates. Served up on a slightly charred wooden plate. This is one that lingers wonderfully. Adding water only lengthened the finish of this dram further and introduced a salted liquorice note for me. An extremely pleasant one at that I might add.


I can’t even begin to describe how grateful I am to Michiel for letting me try a sample of this marvellous whisky. This dram turned out to be such a lovely combination of sweet and peat that it makes my mouth water simply by recalling the texture and flavours of it. I can safely use this as a reference point if people ever wonder what my cup of tea is when it comes to peated drams. Sipping this was pure joy! For some reason I am left with a hankering for a good old-fashioned BBQ, specifically with some BBQ-sauce glazed ribs!



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