Caol Ila (Gaelic for Sound of Islay) which is pronounced as col eela. The name relates directly to its location, directly on the shore of the Sound of Islay less than a mile north from Port Askaig. Caol Ila Distillery was founded in 1846 by Hector Henderson. The distillery did not fare well, and changed hands in 1854 when Norman Buchanan, owner of the Isle of Jura Distillery, took over.
In 1863 the business was acquired by Bulloch Lade & Co, of Glasgow, traders in whisky stocks. By the 1880s over 147,000 gallons of whisky were produced there each year. In 1920 Bulloch Lade went into voluntary liquidation, and a consortium of businessmen formed the Caol Ila Distillery Company Ltd. In 1927 the Distillers Company Limited acquired a controlling interest in Caol Ila, and in 1930 Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd obtained ownership of all the shares. The company eventually became part of Diageo.
The distillery closed during World War II, from 1941 - 1945, because of wartime restrictions on the supply of barley to distillers. From then, production continued until 1972, when the entire structure of the distillery was demolished. A larger distillery was built in the same original architectural style, and production resumed in 1974. Today Caol Ila is the distillery with the largest production on the island. What Kilchoman produces in a year takes Caol Ila distillery only one week. The distillery is often referred to as a whisky factory and the peaty liquid is often used, for almost 90%, in blend whiskies such as Chivas Regal and others.
November to February
Tuesday - Saturday: 10:00 – 16:00 Tour: 10:30 - Tasting:14:00
March To October
Monday - Friday: 09:00 – 17:00 - Tours: 09:30, 12:30 & 15:30
Saturday: 09:00 – 17:00 - Tour: 09:30
Sunday: 10:00 – 16:00 - Tour: 10:30
Caol Ila Distillery offers a number of special tours. For up to date info please download the current Distillery Leaflet