Our first ever bottling of Caol Ila!
|Distilled in: Port Askaig, Islay (Scotland)||Bottled in: 2021|
|Distillery: Caol Ila||Cask type: Bourbon Hogshead|
Tasting notes: Floreal, Peaty, Briny
|Estimated shipping date: September 2022|
The Caol Ila distillery was founded in 1846 near Port Askaig on the island of Islay by Hector Henderson. As is often the case, the distillery gets its name from its immediate surroundings: Caol Ila means “Sound of Islay” in Gaelic, with reference to the stretch of sea in front of the distillery that separates Islay from nearby Jura.
Less than a decade after its founding, Caol Ila ran into financial difficulties resulting in the distillery’s ownership passing first in 1854 to Norman Buchanan (owner of the Isle of Jura distillery) and later in 1857 to whisky blender Bulloch Lade. Lade would go on to improve the distillery’s operations by building a pier providing an access for receipt of raw materials and shipping of finished product.
In 1927 Caol Ila was absorbed into the Distillers’ Company Limited (DCL), which would become Diageo at the end of the 20th Century. The distillery experienced a major overhaul in 1972 when the old premises were demolished and replaced with a brand new distillery, followed by an upgrade to the washbacks in 2011 which resulted in a total annual capacity in excess of 6 million litres.
As for all Islay distilleries, Caol Ila is mostly known for its signature peated whisky but it has also experimented with non-peated spirit for use in blending.
The distillery uses the same malted barley as Lagavulin but the end product differs considerably as a result of Caol Ila’s distillation regime characterized by long fermentation (60 hours) which gives the wash some of the tasting notes associated with the whisky: green olive brine, lemon zest and a sweet smokiness comparable to that of Austrian Rauchbier. Caol Ila’s lighter peatiness vs. Lagavulin is also due to the larger size of its pot stills which gives greater surface contact with the spirit which ultimately reduces the heavy phenols.
This whisky was aged for 15 years in a first fill bourbon hogshead before being bottled at cask strength. Its nose is mildly smoky and spicy. On the palate the initial peatiness opens up to butter, herbs and yellow fruit. The finish is creamy with peppery.
This Caol Ila expression works well as a pairing with oysters, squid ink risotto and other oily seafood preparations as it will help bring out the sea.