Pronounced 'cull-eela' and referring to the stretch of water which separates Islay from the island of Jura nearby, Caol Ila recalls an age when fishing and cutting peat were traditional pastimes, along with the making of this fine malt. Founded in 1846 by local entrepreneur Hector Henderson, barley, coal and empty casks were brought by boat to the distillery, returning with Caol Ila whisky on the return trip.
An island whisky without the full-blown island smokiness, Caol Ila is subtle example of the West Coast style. Distillery manager Billy Stitchell is one of a few whose families have worked here for generations. They use locally malted barley from Port Ellen and pure spring water from Loch nam Ban to create the delicate straw colour and light fragrance this malt is famed for.
How to Enjoy
Serve the 12 Year Old neat in a rocks glass, then add ice or top up with water to taste.
The 18 Year Old, meanwhile, has smouldering smoke undertones with hints of sea salt and mineral oil – it’s ideal supped neat. Caol Ila Distillers Edition is created from a second maturation of the whisky in casks formerly holding Moscatel, a sweet wine produced in the Douro region of Portugal. This double ageing adds rich fruit and spice to a mix of intense flavours, creating one of the most highly regarded Distillers Edition whiskies.
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Grab a bite
Get some grub in before or while you’re drinking – it slows alcohol absorption.