Caol Ila is pronounced “Cull Eela”. It’s the Gaelic name for the Sound of Islay, which separates the island from Jura. For some, the distillery’s pronunciation is as remote as its location, sitting as it does on the rugged western coast, where it has remained hidden from view since 1846. However you say it, the fine, smoky whisky produced by generations of islanders is worth exploring.
Various expressions of Caol Ila single malt whisky have been rated highly in competitions. The 12 year old received two double gold’s, three golds and one silver medal between 2005 and 2010 at the San Francisco World spirits Competition.
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. 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. Like sea air and peat fires, the distinctive Islay smokiness makes Caol Ila whisky a reference point for connoisseurs of Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky the world over. It’s dry, sea air aromas and pleasing smoky-smoothness evokes a certain sense of place for the drinker – whether you’ve visited this magical island or not.