Caol Ila

In 1846 Hector Henderson built the Caol Ila distillery near Port Askaig on the island of Islay. In 1854 he sold it to Norman Buchanan. Today, Caol Ila (which is Gaelic for ‘Sound of Islay’, the dangerous crossing between Islay and Jura) is the largest distillery on the island with a mash tun of 13 tonnes, 8 washbacks and 6 stills. In 1863, she became the property of Bulloch Lade & Co, whisky merchants from Glasgow. They went bankrupt in 1920. In 1927 Caol Ila was reopened by the Caol Ila Distillery Company Ltd, that would later become part of DCL, a precursor to Diageo. The distillery was closed again from 1930 to 1937 and again during the Second World War. Since 1974, the malt is purchased from the Port Ellen Maltings. They produce about 3.8 million litres of spirit per annum. It would take until 2002 before the first bottle of official Caol Ila single malt was released. Before that, all production went into blend, primarily Johnnie Walker.