Caol Ila 12YO
Caol IIa, is a lively whisky, peaty and full in flavour, without being as intense as its more famous counterparts. Its availability is limited, and with a name that is difficult to pronounce, Caol Ila has remained an almost secret Islay malt. The name – pronounced ‘culleela’ is gaelic for ‘Sound of Islay’. The distillery is appropriately hidden in a cove near Port Askaig, overlooking the Sound of Islay, across which the ferry chugs to the nearby island of Jura.
Caol Ila was built in 1846 by Hector Henderson who also owned the old Camlachie distillery in Glasgow. Over the next 80 years the disillery had various owners until it was shut down in 1930. It restarted in 1937 only to shut again at the outbreak of World War 2. These were the only periods Caol Ila was silent; despite the many changes in ownership Caol Ila has been in production almost constantly since 1846. After World War II, things proceeded relatively uneventful at Caol Ila for a few decades before it was rebuilt and extended from two to six stills between 1972 and 1974. The distillery was completely rebuilt in order to meet increased demand from the blenders, only the warehouses (still filled with maturing whisky) were spared. After 1974 Caol Ila started to buy their malted barley from the Port Ellen maltings.
The Caol Ila distillery became part of the United Distillers conglomerate in 1986. In 1989, the first ‘semi-official’ bottling was released in the ‘Flora & Fauna’ range. This would be the only official bottling in a long time. Although the profile of Caol Ila as a single malt has been enhanced in recent years, the main function of the distillery is still the production of malt whiskies for the Johnnie Walker blends. Among single malt whisky lovers, Caol Ila is known as a relatively clean peated whisky
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