malts.com has extra content for Friends of the Classic Malts - join on the website, and get a free tour when you visit the Distillery (and the other 11 Diageo distilleries open to the public)
Caol Ila has a small reception area for visitors rather than a Visitor Centre. The distillery is open for visitors: November to February, Tuesday to Saturday; March to October, Daily. Check website for opening times.
Basic tour £6; other tours available. All tours include complimentary glass and £3 voucher off a purchase of 70cl bottle - check website for times. Booking for tours is advisable and other than basic tour need to be booked an hour in advance.
Caol Ila was established in 1846 by Hector Henderson, but he and Norman Buchanan (owner of Isle of Jura Distillery) who took it over from him both soon ran into financial difficulties and the distillery was taken over by Bulloch, Lade & Co, Glasgow whisky blenders in 1863. They rebuilt and expanded the distillery in 1879 and the distillery prospered for a while. However in 1920 Bulloch Lade were liquidated and the distillery was taken over by a consortium of businessmen - in 1927 it was acquired by the Distillers Company Ltd, a predecessor of Diageo. It has become a very important component of their Johnnie Walker blends, and they completely rebuilt and expanded the distillery - from 2 to 6 stills in 1972-74. Only the warehouse remains from the earlier distillery. There are pictures of the old distillery buildings on the discovering distilleries site.
Traditionally, Caol Ila is a peated whisky, but unpeated spirit has been produced, mainly for blending purposes, for a small part of the year since about 1997.
Already the largest distillery on Islay, it was again expanded during 2011 with additional washbacks and a larger mash tun installed - they have now moved to 7 day a week production.
All current production is tankered away from the distillery to be matured on the mainland - the warehouse at Caol Ila now probably contains Lagavulin, as with the Port Ellen warehouses.
Along with Bunnahabhain, Caol Ila enjoys spectacular views of the Paps of Jura.
Malt Madness, Undiscovered Scotland, Wikipedia, WhiskyMerchants.co.uk SMWS (53)
Click the map's Google logo to go to Google Maps - for Directions, Street View etc.
Open Cycle Map Bing Map Nearby: Bunnahabhain Jura Bowmore
Caol Ila Distillery is about half a mile north of Port Askaig, but you'll have to go up the hill and back to sea level to get there. Take the only road out of Port Askaig, turn right at the top of the hill, keep going and you'll be at the distillery.
Port Askaig is one of the two ports on Islay served by CalMac from Kennacraig Winter Summer). Getting to Kennacraig? - see main Islay page.
The core range is 12yo, 18yo, 25yo, 30yo, the latter having been added recently. A Distillers Edition finished in Moscatel is also now available together with the unaged Moch (Gaelic for "dawn", a lighter style than the 12yo), all are bottled at 43%, except the 30yo at 55.1%. Diageo have also released an annual limited edition unpeated cask strength bottling, ages have varied between 8 and 14yo, strength between 59% and 65%. A distillery only bottling is also available for visitors to the distillery.
Plenty of independent bottles available.
LFW, RMW, TWE
Islay Cycles 07760 196592
Run from the Port Ellen Boatyard in the Business Park (behind the White Hart Hotel). Not a shop as such, but hire, sales, accessories and repairs available - see website/ring for further details.
Brian Palmer describes himself as "the only cycle repairer and spare parts person in Bowmore", and can be contacted via Catherine MacTaggart who hires bikes from Bowmore Post Office (01496 810366).
Bike Hire in Persabus (near Port Askaig on the road to Bunnahabhain) 01496 840753.
Nearest Cycle Shops Lochgilphead (18 miles from Kennacraig), Oban
Nevis Cycles 87 George Street, Oban 01631 566033
David Graham 13-15 Combie Street, Oban 01631 562069
Crinan Cycles 34 Argyll Street, Lochgilphead 01546 603511
Photos on this page were taken by me. Click on photo to enlarge. Full size versions of all my photos of Caol Ila Distillery are available on Flickr.