Distiller: Bulloch Lade & Co
Owner: United Distillers
Caol Ila (pronouncee `cull-eela`) is Gaelic for `the Sound of Islay` (the strait separating that island from the Isle of Jura). The distillery was built in a cove overlooking the sound in 1846 by Hector Henderson, who had been in Partnership at Littlemill Distillery. The site was chosen for its abundent supply of good water from Loch Nam Bam - of which Alfred Barnard wrote, `over which ever and anon the fragrant breeze from the heather and myrtle is wafted` and which, more prosaically, was used to power the distillery`s generator as well as to make its whisky. Henderson soon went out of business. The distillery was bought in 1857 by Bulloch Lade & Co, which, among other things, built a mission hall at Caol Ila, where each Sunday a seminary student from Edinburgh or Glasgow preached to the distillery workers and their families. In 1927, its management passed to DCL. The distillery remained in production until 1972, when it was decided to demolish the entire structure (apart from the warehouses) and build a larger distillery in the same architectural style as the original, but with new and better equipment and another pair of stills. Production resumed in 1974. Today Caol Ila obtains its malt from Port Ellen, and the whisky once despatched by DCL`s own vessel from the distillery`s private pier now travels by road and ferry from Port Askaig and Port Ellen. For many years, Caol Ila was only available in idependent bottlings, but it has been bottled by its owners since 1988-89.
Extract form Charles Maclean`s SCOTCH WHISKY a Mitchell Beazley Pocket Guide