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Article: Caol Ila

Caol Ila

Caol Ila

Cao Ila is a master of consistency, gaining the distillery the title 'Mr Consistent'. The distillery always gets its maturity and character right regardless for official or independent bottlings and does not slack in terms of sheer volume.


Caol Ila combines fresh pear note, grassiness, a hint of juniper and distinct notes of lobster shells, crab creels and gentle smoke. Unpeated variant exists and is equally delicate with a fresh, estery and almost floral lift.

History of Caol Ila whisky distillery

Caol Ila is a scotch whisky distilled near Port Askaig on the island of Islay, off Scotland. The name is derived from Gaelic, with "Caol Ìle" meaning "Sound of Islay", and is a reference to the distillery's location overlooking the strait between Islay and Jura.

The distillery was originally founded back in 1846 by Hector Henderson. But, its early days were rocky with the distillery being bought out in 1854 by Norman Buchanan, owner of the Isle of Jura Distillery. In 1863 the distillery changed hands again when it was acquired by Bulloch Lade & Co, of Glasgow, who were whisky traders. In a nice window into the times, the 1871 census lists Duncan Johnston as the Distillery Manager; Duncan was the nephew of John Johnston of Lagavulin and cousin to the Laphroaig Johnstons. 

In 1920 Bulloch Lade went into voluntary liquidation, and a consortium of businessmen formed the Caol Ila Distillery Company Ltd. In 1927 the Distillers Company acquired a controlling interest in Caol Ila, and in 1930 Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd obtained ownership of all the shares. The distillery closed during World War II, from 1942 to 1945, because of wartime restrictions on the supply of barley to distillers. From then, production continued until 1972, when the entire structure of the distillery was demolished. A larger distillery was then built, designed by George Leslie Darge in the same architectural style as many of his others with his trademark glazed curtain walls to the still houses, and production resumed in 1974. The company eventually became part of Diageo, where the distillery remains today. 

Islay Region

 This island with only 8 unique distilleries is often lashed by sea winds and rain, which most certainly influences the characteristic of the whisky produced here. It has a very flat surface that consist largely of peat, which plays a huge role on the flavour of the whiskies produced here.
The flavour of Islay whiskies are the strongest of all Scotch whiskies and are famous for their strong peaty smokiness which comes from the peat fuel which they use for malting the barley. Islay whiskies has a very strong character consisting of being very smoky and medicinal, salty and sea weedy with a dry finish and sometimes with quite a bite. If you like smoky whiskies this is definitely your go to region.

Whisky from Caol Ila

As one of one Diageo's work horses, much of the whisky distilled at Caol Ila has historically ended up in blends.  Today, there are a few Caol Ila expressions direct from the brand including no-age-statement Moch, 18 year old and 25 year old, a finished Distiller’s Edition and annual special releases.

Caol Ila's distillery character is a combination of pear, grass, juniper and coastal notes with gentle smoke. Although it receives the same malt as its sister distillery Lagavulin, Caol Ila’s distillation regime (longer fermentation, higher cut point, taller stills) reduces the heavy phenols. Maturation for the single malt is typically in refill casks. While much of their whisky is peated, Caol Ila do also produce unpeated whisky, which is equally delicate, with a fresh, estery and floral character. 

Buy a cask of Caol Ila whisky

The Single Cask has some great Caol Ila casks in our warehouses.  If you're interested in buying a cask of Caol Ila, please contact us today for a free, no obligation quote.  We can also offer a range of bottling services, making the whole process of creating your very own whisky easy.

Sell a cask of Caol Ila whisky

The Single Cask has a great history of buying and bottling single cask Caol Ila whisky.  Often we buy our casks direct from the distillery, but we are also pleased to buy Caol Ila casks from private individuals.  If you have a Caol Ila cask that you're looking to sell, please contact us today for a free, no obligation, quote on how much we could pay you for your cask.


Whisky Type

Single Malt

Distillery Status






Fermentation Time

Minimum 55 hours

Grist weight (T)


Malt specification

Heavily peated

Mash Tun Material


New-Make Strength


Spirit Still Charge (L)


Spirit Still Size (L)




Wash Still Shape


Washback Size (L)




Yeast type


Condenser type

Shell and tube

Filling strength


Heat source


Malt supplier

Mostly in house

Mash Tun Type


Single Malt percentage


Spirit still shape




Wash still charge (L)


Wash Still size (L)


Washback type

8 wood, 2 steel

Water source

Loch Nam Burn

Parent company


Current owner



+44 1496 302769



Caol Ila Distillery
Port Askaig
Isle of Islay, Argyll 
PA46 7RL
United Kingdom

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