Caol Ila

Caol Ila distillery

Caol Ila is located on the northeast shore of Islay, just a short distance from Port Askaig. Prior to the distillery, the site had been used previously for smelting lead from ore that was mined a short distance away. The distillery was built in 1846 by Hector Henderson. It was struggling to cope with demand in the late 1960s and was closed in 1972 for an expansion programme. It closed with two stills and opened in 1974 with six. Caol Ila was for many years used only as a component for vatted and blended whiskies, most commonly Johnnie Walker. It was only in 1989 that it became available for sale in its native form. It is now available in a young edition with 7 year old whisky as its base, a 12 year old and various finishes and limited editions. Each May a special release is made of between 1000 and 3500 bottles to coincide with Feis Ile Islay celebrations. Current production is 5,000,000 litres per year on a five days a week working pattern and it consumes 200 tons of barley per week. Of this, 85% goes into blended whisky and 15% into single malts. Its capacity is 6,500,000 litres per year.

The distillery currently mashes 12½ tons of mash 3-4 times a day. Two washes at 65°C and 85°C create 58,000 litres of wort, which is fermented in one of ten wash backs. The current offerings are a 12-year old aged in all refill casks, Moch which is an 8-10 year old spirit, Distiller's edition which is 12 years in refill and 3-6 months in Muscatel, the 3000 limited edition which is first-fill bourbon, refill bourbon and then finished in red wine casks. There's also an unpeated 15 year old at 61.5% in refill bourbon and then European oak.

Tour guide was Emma and we were joined by Ruth. Six stills.


Caol Ila limited edition 3000Cail Ila 25 year oldCaol Ila feis Ile 2018