Only 352 bottles of this single malt whisky, which was matured for over 17 years, were ever produced.
The southernmost of the Inner Hebridean Scottish Isles, the island of Islay (pronounced EYE-lah) is just 240 square miles and home to only 3,457 people. Still, the island is one of just five distilling regions in Scotland whose identity is protected by law.
Islay's unique climate and geography impart signature characteristics to Scotch distilled and matured on the island. Despite its small size, the island boasts 130 miles of coastline, and the warm Gulf Stream from the Atlantic Ocean provides for cool winters and mild summers. In addition, the island is largely composed of peat, a phenolic compound that emits smoky aromas when burned. The salty winds and peat bogs of Islay result in Scotch that has a signature salinity and is balanced by a touch of smoke.
Nestled in a hidden cove near Port Askaig, Caol Ila Distillery (pronounced "Cull Eela,") was founded in 1846 by Hector Henderson. It borrows its name (which means "The Sound of Islay"in ancient Gaelic) from the sea sweeping past its dramatic and almost hidden location — it is situated between a steep cliff and the eastern shores of the Sound of Islay. For over a century, small coal-fired boats known as puffers navigated the Sound and brought barley, coal and casks to the distillery. Although the puffers no longer exist, Caol Ila continues to distill whisky using locally malted barley, along with pure spring water sourced from Loch Nam Ban (the water travels through limestone and peat before reaching the distillery).
Once the barley has been malted and fermented, it is distilled through Caol Ila's copper-pot stills. "The stills were designed to replicate the original stills installed in the 19th century," says Billy Stitchell, the distillery manager (Stitchell began working at the distillery in 1974, and is the fourth generation of his family to be employed at the distillery — his father, both grandfathers and one great-grandfather all worked at Caol Ila). Unlike other distilleries on Islay (particularly Lagavulin), Caol Ila distills the wash in copper-pot stills that are less full in order to maximize copper contact. As a result, the whisky is less peaty and smoky than traditional Islay whiskies.
Caol Ila 17 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky (Signatory Bottling) was distilled on September 3, 1996 and matured for 6,224 days in a hogshead cask (Cask #12568). On September 18, 2013, over 17 years after it was initially matured, the whisky was bottled at cask strength.
As a result of this maturation, the whisky has a sweet aroma of vanilla, honey and malt. The aroma gives way to notes of toasted almonds, orange zest, nougat and toffee and leads to a long, warming finish.
Only 352 bottles of this whisky have ever been produced. Pick one up today!
92 (46% ABV)
Caol Ila Distillery
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Sweet aroma of vanilla, honey and malt. Notes of toasted almonds, orange zest, nougat and toffee and leads to a long, warming finish.