Caol Ila Unpeated 1999 / 18 Year Old Special / Bottled 2017
70cl / 59.8%
Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
One of the best Unpeated Caol Ila's so far (as of 2017), this is a stunning whisky, distilled in 1999 and aged in first fill ex bourbon American oak casks.
Caol Ila is the Gaelic name for the Sound of Islay, which separates the island from Jura in one of the most remote and beautiful parts of Scotland's West Coast.
Nestled in a hidden cove near Port Askaig, the Caol Ila (pronounced “Cull Eela”) distillery sent its whisky to market by sea for over a hundred years.
Sniff the air over a glass and smoky, sea-fresh aromas recall an age, not so long ago, when fishing and cutting peat were the traditional occupations in this part of Scotland. Few men make a living cutting peat on the island today, but the old traditions live on in the skills of our distillery workers and in the ingredients they still use at Caol Ila.
Caol Ila™ has remained undiscovered by many but has become much-prized by malts lovers across the world. Those lucky enough to visit us will have experienced the wonderful Islay setting that is brought to life through the range of Caol Ila whiskies, led by the 12 year old expression.
“A wonderful aperitif” – Michael Jackson, Malt Whisky Companion 2006
For more than 100 years small coal-fired “puffers” like the SS Pibroch brought barley, coal and empty casks to the distillery, returning her whisky to the mainland through the strait that divides Islay and Jura, the Sound of Islay – in Gaelic, “Caol Ila”.
That tradition has passed. And other changes have taken place – like when the old distillery became outdated and was replaced by a new, £1 million building in 1974. Craftsmen faithfully reproduced the six stills from the original design to ensure the distinctive quality of Caol Ila™ remained.
However, there are many things that have not changed. Caol Ila is the only distillery on Islay to face due east, and every morning the six stills are the first to feel the dawn of the day on their copper faces.
The barley used here is still malted locally at Port Ellen and pure spring water still rises from limestone in nearby Loch nam Ban, then falls to the sea at Caol Ila in a clear crystal stream, just as it always has.
Then there are the descendants of generations past who keep traditions alive. Billy Stitchell is the manager of the distillery and has worked there for years, as did his father, both his grandfathers and his great-grandfather. Their unbroken line is proof that tradition and expertise matter around here.
The result of their craft and skill is an easy-going single malt whisky of dry, sea air aromas and pleasing smoky-smoothness. Anyone who visits this magical island soon finds that Islay is home to some of the great malt whiskies. Caol Ila™ is certainly one of them, whose discovery is one of life’s great pleasures.