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The Whiskies of Caol Ila

Long enjoyed by devotees for its Islay character, distinctive spiciness, and surprising drinkability.”
Michael Jackson on Caol Ila
from his book Michael Jackson’s Complete Guide to Single Malt Scotch

Capturing and expressing both smoky depth and spicy fruit freshness is no easy task. Few strike that balance as well and consistently as Caol Ila. You'll find that telltale balance in today’s two single barrel offers - yet both enjoy that something extra, an additional facet that enriches the whole. Both are gems, and both were discovered by and handpicked exclusively for Binny’s Beverage Depot.

When we find the best of the best, we claim them as our own and call them Binny’s Handpicked Casks.
Each is a limited release, so buy now!


Classic young Caol Ila from the start. Brine, clean smoke, and bright cinnamon with hints of citrus and snap peas on the nose. Quite sweet on the palate: lemon candy, white frosting, light vanilla; water enhances this even more. Smoke character is very clean and less briny that expected. Just a bright, fresh, classy dram.


Hints of smoke and classic Caol Ila fresh cinnamon waft through bright fruit notes, with green apple most prominent. Palate is rich and sweet, with vanilla and custard supported by a spicy backbone driven by black pepper, menthol, and more of the signature bright cinnamon.  The balance makes this one of the more complex young Caol Ila's to grace our shelves.

On Islay and Caol Ila

Islay peat - comprised largely of sphagnum, seaweed, and other shore plants - differs from almost all others. Unlike the wood-derived compounds found in the peat of the inland moors, Islay peat is rich with phenols. When burned for malting, such peat produces a distinctively dense and pungent smoke whose medicinal, salty and even tarry notes will inevitably find themselves in the distillate. Those pungent, smoky notes can overwhelm all other flavors, and demand a deft hand in the distillery to strike a balance with the barley’s spice and fruit notes.

Mindful of this, the distillers at Caol Ila ferment at a deliberately gradual pace (80-odd hours for weekday fermentations, 120 hours over the weekend) to capture the estery, floral-fruit notes in the malted barley. The stills at Caol Ila enjoy not only a fill that is just a whisper above half their total capacity to encourage a healthy reflux for finer and more pure flavors; moreover, the distillers cut early at 75% abv and take it off early at 65% abv. The smaller charge and the early cuts in turn yield a distillate with higher alcohols, and a dram whose fruit sweetness and estery notes acts as a balance to the peaty pungency found in all Islay malts.

The Whiskey Hotline hit the road this year. We’ve been all over the country and all over the world in search of casks of the finest spirits around. When we find the best of the best, we claim them as our own and call them Binny’s Handpicked Casks. Watch for these selections over the next few months:


Brett’s annual late spring trip to Scotland yielded some excellent single cask single malts. Several values and a couple of hidden gems from the independent bottler’s extensive archives are in bottle, and word is they’ll be on the water soon.

1792 Ridgemont Reserve

Sifting through a collection of samples, we found five barrels we especially loved. Never content to just let things be, we started playing with them, and guess what we made….

Rhine Hall
Rhine Hall
Rhine Hall

Sometimes hitting the road means going just down the road – to Chicago’s Rhine Hall, for example. We picked three barrels of apple brandy. The variety of toast and age yielded three drastically different bottlings, all bottled at higher proof than Rhine Hall’s usual bottles.

Few Spirits
Few Spirits
Few Spirits

...Or hitting the road could mean visiting sunny Evanston, Illinois, to dig through Few’s super secret barrel warehouse. Watch for Binny’s Handpicked vattings of Few’s top-notch bourbon and rye, plus maybe a single barrel rye. You know who to ask.

Whistle Pig
Whistle Pig

We’re excited to continue the Handpicked WhistlePig tradition with two more excellent additions to the series. But the highlight here might be two new custom WhistlePig blends, starting with their Old World components as a foundation, and maybe a special fourth ingredient we can neither confirm nor deny…

Buffalo Trace
Buffalo Trace
Buffalo Trace

Over the summer, we hit the road to Kentucky, and stop number one was Buffalo Trace. We’re stocking up on five single barrels of Old Weller 107, plus a vatting of Weller Special Reserve. Plus several barrels of Blanton’s. Here’s the cool part: this round puts total Binny’s Handpicked purchases from Buffalo Trace over 400 barrels. Thank you, Mark, Kris, Elmer, Ronnie, Beau and Harlan!

Four Roses
Four Roses
Four Roses

Next up, Four Roses. Due to production restrictions at the distillery driven by your thirst, we buy all the Four Roses single barrels we can get. In this case, it means at least five new barrels over the next few months, with more on the way.

Angels Envy
Angels Envy
Angel’s Envy

We couldn’t help but visit the old Angel’s Envy warehouse and facility – and we’re looking forward to seeing the new space when construction is complete! The fruit of visit is two more custom Binny’s blends, bottled asSt. Someobdy and St. Somebody Else, pending labelling approval and canonization. Always a treat.

Copper & Kings
Copper & Kings
Copper & Kings

That’s right, brandy from the heart of bourbon country in Louisville, Kentucky. Copper & Kings is churning out brandy for whiskey lovers, and there’s no better place to start than the Binny’s Handpicked cask, arriving soon. We’re dialing it up by having it bottled at a vivid 120 proof.

Be sure to keep an eye on the Whiskey Hotline as these Binny’s Handpicked Casks roll in over the next few weeks and months!

Passing Shots

Knotter BourbonOur friends from Galena are laying down bourbon. It just isn’t very old. Yet. But it’s wonderful. Thing is, they refuse to release it until it rests to a proper age. In the meantime, they happened upon a parcel of aged bourbon they couldn’t let go. Thus, Knotter Bourbon, a  great dram to sip white we wait for what Matt and Mike Blaum have in store.


Whiskey in a box? Whiskey in a box .


One of the last projects of gin legend Tom Nichol before his departure from Tanqueray. Paying homage to the history of his longtime distillery by resurrecting this historic recipe from the 1800’s, this special bottling is named after the neighborhood… er, neighbourhood in London that held the original distillery location: Bloomsbury .


One of the most iconic bottles in tequila goes pink for breast cancer awareness: Clase Azul Reposado . A portion of the sale of every beautiful decanter goes toward the ongoing fight against breast cancer. As always, the tequila inside the decanter is stunning.


If you love La Pinta Pomegranate Infused Tequila (and you should) then check out the new Happiness Pack. It’s exactly the same bottle with an extra 200 mL thrown in to sweeten the deal.


BenromachThe newest aged expression from Speyside stalwart Benromach is 15 years old , and it’s a worthy addition to their already solid lineup of everyday releases.


Have you tried Slow & Low Rock and Rye ? It’s deliciously sweet, and it couldn’t happen without a solid foundation of blended straight ryes. Coincidentally, those blended straight ryes are now available on their own in a badass retro bottle.


Mate? It’s the latest, hottest, herbal beverage. Antioxidant and all that. Anyway, it’s at the core of this Argentine gin .


AmaroDriven by this wonderful cocktail renaissance, amaro is hot. The latest to hit Binny’s shelves is Amaro Sibona , a balanced example of amaro, with a round palate to balance out the slight bitterness. Try it in this delightful autumn cocktail.


Donegal Estates marks a new, beautiful, light and fruity entry into the Irish whisky category.


Finally, something affordable from Amador Whiskey Co. Double Barrel Bourbon is rich sourced bourbon further finished in Trinchero wine barrels.


One for serious bourbon collectors: Garrison Brothers Cowboy Bourbon was one of the most anticipated releases back in 2013, but was limited to Texas only. The second release is finally available, in limited quantities, crafted from some of the oldest stocks from this Texas upstart.


Eleven WellsSpeaking of whiskey upstarts, check out Eleven Wells . This Minnesota producer goes a little nuts in controlling every factor of production: grains, distillation, wood, everything. The result is the Prototype Series, showcasing different grain types.


Also, don’t skip their rums. Made in the same vein in two different styles, a blackstrap made with molasses, the other Agricole style made from fresh cane syrup.


Know someone special with a birthday ending in zero this year? We have newly arrived vintage releases from two of our favorite Armagnac producers, Dartigalongue and Delord, with ages reaching 20, 30, 40 and even 50 years old.


Hudson spirits: now in normal 750 mL bottles . That’s twice the Hudson AT THE SAME PRICE.


Balblair’s sweet spot is in the mid to late teens, and the newly released 1999 vintage hits that spot beautifully.


Last Feather RyeLamenting the loss of Journeyman’s delicious Ravenswood Rye? Grab a bottle of the new Last Feather . Same juice, new name. Also new to Binny’s, batch two of their single malt, Three Oaks.


For fans of Jameson: Jameson Caskmates , finished in casks that previously held a local craft brewery’s stout. Our guess is Franciscan Well? Not to brag, but we were drinking this in Ireland way back before it was cool.


Finally, don’t miss two newest releases from Ichiro’s Chichibu distillery . Both show growth and maturity since Ichiro’s first, including his first peated available in the U.S.

*Supply is limited on a lot of this stuff. That's part of what makes it so exciting. If you don't see something here at your favorite Binny's Beverage Depot location, be sure to ask. And you can always reach the Whiskey Hotline by email or by calling (888) 817-5898.

Binny's Spirits Blog
Breaking news and reviews on your favorite spirits.
Contact or call 1-888-817-5898 with questions, comments, & special requests.

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