Oily and smoky, with a seaside tang.
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. Built in 1846, the distillery was modernised in the 1970's when the present modern appearance and picture windows arrived. The style of the whisky produced also received modernisation in the 70's. It lost a little of the peppery character but its oily body, highly prized by blenders, intensified.
For a long time, independent bottlers flew the flag of Caol Ila while Diageo merely used it as a filling in Johnnie Walker but in 2002 they launched their own range of three commendable bottlings which are all excellent. Caol Ila is a great malt for giving as a gift to fans of Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Lagavulin or peaty whiskies in general, as it is lesser known but wonderfully consistent. A must-try!