Caol Ila is the largest distillery on Islay. It is the Gaelic name for “the sound of Islay”. Can you hear it. Can you hear it….. hey hey hey my my. I don’t care how it sounds, but my God it tastes great! The Caol Ila 1996 is independently aged and bottled by Gordon and MacPhail.
I was refurbished in 1974 keeping the style of the original stills of 1846, when the distillery was founded by Hector Henderson. The modern incarnation is designed to produce large volumes of whisky for blending by Dia Geo, the company that owns such well know brands as Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff, Jack Daniels. Despite it having 6 stills very little gets allocated as a single malt. It seems a crime! Other than JW, It is the key ingredient of these famous blends: Bells, White Horse, Scottish Leader and Black Bottle.
The barley is malted nearby at Port Ellen, and the water drawn from the local Loch Nam Ban. Being a limestone loch, the water is very minerally, and it lends to the oily, lanolin mouth feel of the whisky. Very Yummy. Port Ellen dry the barley with different quantities of peat. This is certainly peaty, but is by no means a peat monster. It is perfect balanced with the rich Christmas cake and dried fruits that come through from the ageing in sherry hogsheads. The combination is truly delightful.
The Caol Ila 1996 is not a whisky for the feint of heart. It is a big and powerful and strong, yet delightfully well balanced.