The stills at Caol Ila look out over a spectacular view across the Sound of Islay to the Paps of Jura, undoubtedly one of the finest views from any distillery. The whisky distilled in these stills obviously enjoys the view, incorporating flavours of the peat bogs and the salty sea air. For more than 100 years small coal-fired “puffers” like the SS Pibroch brought barley, coal and empty casks to the distillery, returning her whisky to the mainland through the Sound of Islay. Built in 1846, the distillery was modernised in the 1970’s when the present modern appearance and picture windows arrived. Today, Caol Ila’s secret bay is only known to true Islay devotees. The barley used here is still malted locally at Port Ellen and pure spring water still rises from limestone in nearby Loch nam Ban, then falls to the sea at Caol Ila in a clear crystal stream, just as it always has, in general, as it is lesser known but wonderfully consistent. A must-try!
Pale straw in colour. Subdued, citric fruitiness; a whiff of bath oil and dentist’s mouthwash. A fresh and appetising bouquet, with little or no trace of smoke. Smooth, pleasant mouth-feel: firm with a light to medium body. The palate shows natural strength; sweet start; pleasant, light fragrant smokiness. Sweet smokiness in the lingering, slightly sour finish.