Another of the lesser-known Distilleries on Islay, Caol Ila (Gaelic for 'Sound of Islay', and pronounced 'cull-eel-a) distillery is also one of the largest whisky producers by volume. They produce in a week what some smaller distilleries produce in a year, but around 90% of their whisky goes into blends, such as Chivas Regal and Johnnie Walker. Their single-malt whiskies are well balanced, usually lightly peated, but they have also produced some unpeated bottlings, but we're not too interested in those! They primarily bottle at 43% ABV, although there is a cask-strength bottling out there if you can find it, and it is fantastic! Likewise their Distiller's Edition is very good, finished in Moscatel casks, but their mainstay is the standard Caol Ila 12 year old.
Distillery location: Eastern Islay, near Port Askaig, Scotland
Producing since: 1846
General Whisky Style: Lightly peated, smoky, medicinal and maritime flavours.
I would like to see more Caol Ila bottled as a single-malt, by the distillery, and I say that because there are many, many different independent bottlings of single-cask Caol Ila available, where an independent bottler has purchased the cask from Caol Ila, then matured and bottled it themselves, usually at cask strength. If only the distillery would do more of that! They do produce great whisky, and although considered one of the 'lighter' Islay whiskies, Caol Ila hold their own in a big way, get out there and try it!