For anyone visiting Caol Ila today it might be hard to believe that it was once one of the smaller distilleries on Islay, with the Diageo workhorse now producing almost as much spirit as Lagavulin, Ardbeg, Bowmore and Laphroaig combined! Despite this, Caol Ila still isn't as globally recognisable as its Islay stable-mates, due to the majority of its production being used for blends, such as Johnnie Walker. In fact it wasn't until the early noughties that it was marketed seriously as a single malt, but its quality and rock solid consistency have won it a dedicated fan base that will surely continue to grow.
The other trick up Caol Ila's sleeve is its versatility. During the downturn in the fortunes of the whisky industry in the 1980s, demand for traditionally heavily peated Islay whiskies was particularly low. Caol Ila's ability to produce an unpeated, Highland style whisky for blending helped it weather the storm; a legacy which is still honoured today in the form of its special, annual release of unpeated malt.
It seems like the Diageo distilleries are playing pass the parcel with their Distillers Edition cask maturation processes. The 2017 Feis offering from Caol Ila has taken a leaf out of Talisker's book, and opted for a double maturation in Amoroso wood.
Age: 12 years old
Cask Type: Amoroso wood
55.8% ABV / 70cl
Bottle Number: 1100 / 1500