Coal Ila is a typical Islay whiskey that is very popular for its characteristic, fresh, fruity flavors and strongly peated character. Some examples from the Caol Ila range are the Caol Ila 12 years old, the exclusive Caol Ila 30 years old and the Caol Ila Rare Malts Selection 21 years old. The Caol Ila distillery is located on the eastern shore of Islay, with a beautiful view of the island of Jura. Between Jura and Islay flows a strait called The Sound of Islay, translated into Gaelic “Cao Ila”.
The Caol Ila distillery was founded in 1846 by Hector Henderson, who unfortunately failed to make the distillery a success. Henderson sold Caol Ila to Norman Buchanan, the owner of the Jura distillery. In the years that followed, Caol Ila changed hands several times, but the distillery continued to produce fairly continuously despite these irregularities.
Around 1930, Caol Ila was taken over by Scottish Malt Distillers (Diageo), who had the distillery demolished and reconstructed in 1974. New washbacks were installed, the number of stills was expanded from two to six and production capacity increased to meet the growing demand for Islay single malt whiskey. The distillery also let go of the malt floors and from that moment on, the required malt was imported from Port Ellen Maltings. According to some whiskey connoisseurs, this particular development would have drastically affected the taste of Caol Ila Single Malt Whiskey, creating a separation between the whiskeys from before and after the expansion of the distillery. But despite these changes, Caol Ila managed to triple the production capacity and become a success.
Towards the end of the 20th century, the global demand for Scottish single malt whiskey declined, forcing many distilleries to close down. However, Caol Ila only stopped production for a few weeks, after which production resumed, little by little, until the old production capacity was restored.
Caol Ila is currently one of the highest producing distilleries in the world and is headed by distillery manager Billy Stitchell.Read more