Caol Ila
Founded in 1846
There is a narrow gap between the Islands of Islay to the left, and Jura to the right, in the Irish Sea. Less than 200 feet across at some points, this gap is called the Sound of Islay.

The Caol Ila Distillery sits on a rocky shore below verdant hills, at nearly the narrowest point of the gap -- where the Feolin Ferry crosses to land on Islay, at Port Askaig.

It was founded in 1846, by Hector Henderson, and struggled financially from day one. It was sold in 1854, then again in 1863 when it was acquired by Bullach Lade & Co. They were Whisky traders who knew how to get product to market. So the business got its footing and was at full production by the mid-1880s.

The Bulloch Lade company decided to dissolve, and reap the rewards of their work, selling off all of their assets, including Caol Ila, in 1927. It was sold again in 1930, but closed, like a lot of Scottish distillers during World War II.

It reopened in 1945, and ran well under the leadership of Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd. through 1972, when the facilities were deemed outdated. So the Whisky was sent into storage and the entire site demolished. A larger, more modern set of buildings were erected on the same site.

This process took two full years, and production returned in 1974. Diageo liked the results of all that hard work and purchased the distillery a few years later.

Caol Ila is a giant among single malt producers, yielding upwards of 7 million liters per year. Most of this production goes into the various blends in the Diageo portfolio -- including Johnnie Walker and Black Bottle.

A good portion is also set aside for official and independent single malt releases. These releases cover a wide range of agings and strengths, to appeal to a broad range of Islay Whisky fans -- from 12YO through 25YO, and cask-strength special editions up to 55% and higher.

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Flavour Spiral™

About The Flavour Spiral

What does Caol Ila taste like?

The Flavour Spiral™ shows the most common flavours that you'll taste in Caol Ila Scotch. It's based on all Caol Ila drinks in our large database and gives you a chance to taste Caol Ila before actually tasting it.

We invented Flavour Spiral™ here at Flaviar to get all your senses involved in tasting drinks and, frankly, because we think that classic tasting notes are boring.

Distillery Details

  • Country
    United Kingdom, Scotland
  • Region
  • Established
  • Owner
  • Type
    Single malt
  • Number of stills
    3 wash, 3 spirit
  • Visitor center
  • Status
  • Address
    Caol Ila Distillery, Port Askaig, Isle of Islay PA46 7RL, United Kingdom
  • Phone
    +44 1496 302769
  • Website
Dog Dogson
Dog Dogson's
Caol Ila is named after the body of water it sits on. Its name translates from Gaelic as "Strait of Islay."
Islay - Home to the peated beasts.

The southernmost island of the Southern Hebrides is is the fifth-largest Scottish island. Whisky-wise, it's characterised by malts that are pungent with peat, smoke and salinity, revealing their complexity layer after layer. There are eight working distilleries on Islay.

Even the island’s name is shrouded in complexity; the proper pronunciation of Islay is ‘eye-la’.
Flaviar Times

Scotch from Caol Ila