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. 

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.

Caol Ila distillery details

Address: Caol Ila Distillery, Port Askaig, Isle of Islay, Argyll, PA46 7RL

Website: https://www.malts.com/en-gb/visit-our-distilleries/caol-ila/

Telephone number: +44 1496 302769