Getting to know the Caol Ila range at the distillery

let’s begin

I got a bunch of grief from industry peers the other day when I answered no when asked if I had tried the Caol Ila cask strength release. A tad unfair I thought but nonetheless it happened so I took to the Caol Ila distillery in order to understand their range in detail.

Their distillery manager, David Wood gave the shortest of tours – mostly stood outside in the courtyard overlooking the water between the Caol Ila distillery and Jura

It was more of a chat than anything else and felt a lot more authentic because of it. This was a bloke who heads the distillery talking us through the story before opening the door and letting those in attendance wander the still room freely for as long as we wanted admiring the view. 

The Caol Ila distillery produces 6.5million litres of spirit per year, double that of Laphroaig yet rarely gets the recognition it so deserves… and the stills were MASSIVE. 

Following a ponder and a wander we headed to one of the warehouses for a tasting of some special Caol Ila products. My notes were light as I wanted to experience all the whiskies properly and enjoy them but here they are… 

Dram One – 63.5% New Make – nice. 

Dram Two – Caol Ila 12 Year Old 43% £40

Oily, chewy, not too much oak influence to be found here, it holds the characteristics of the new make well. 

Dram Three – Distillers Edition – min 12 Year Old 43%

“It, like all our whiskies, should taste like a hello from Caol Ila, if it doesn’t then we have failed”

Peardrops, marmalad, chewy, smoky 

Dram Four – Caol Ila 25 Year Old – 43%

“The Caol Ila 25 Year Old… well, that’s one to keep at the back of the cupboard for when the guests leave”

This was supposed to be a limited edition but they got such great feedback that they made it a permanent part of their core range at ~£177

Nose was all about banana and sweets, palate gave me toffee notes. 

Dram Five – Caol Ila 30 Year Old – 55.1%

Gorgeous liquid and gorgeous packaging depicting a puffer boat going up the sound. This is the oldest bottle ever released by the company. 

Dram Six – 2014 Feis Ile – 55.5%

“This was the first to have my name on it so I’m especially proud of that!”

Hogshead, 1,500 bottles and is all about the peat, I personally preferred this to the 2015 Feis Ile bottle as it was savage in its peaty profile. 

Dram Seven – 2015 Feis Ile – 57.3%

A 17 year old hogshead matured whisky that exudes buttery vanilla notes with smoke on the nose. 

What a great tasting and what a great range… definitely give some of these a go if and when you have the chance to. 

With that I bought a bottle or two, admired the scenery, took a bunch of photos and eventually left… 

Tags: Caol IlaCaol Ila distilleryCaol Ila rangedramDrinkWireseven drams
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My name is Greg, and I’m a brand strategy consultant, writer, speaker, host and judge specialising in premium spirits. My mission is to experience, share and inspire with everything great about whisky, whiskey, gin, beer and fine dining through my writing, my brand building and my whisky tastings.

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