Caol Ila Distillery was built in 1846, It is the largest of the eight distilleries on the Isle of Islay in the west of Scotland. The distillery sits on the northeast corner of the island. The name “Caol Ila” actually means “Sound of Islay” in Gaelic, and was named after the distillery’s close proximity to Jura.
The road that leads to Caol Ila passes by a row of small houses and curves down towards the sea, allowing for an amazing view of the Sound. This is the road that the management and distillery workers have travelled for years. The workers at Caol Ila have made commitment to the distillery a family affair. The current manager of the distillery, Billy Stichell, has worked there all his life, as did his father, grand father and great-grandfather. Their unbroken bloodline commitment is proof that, traditions still matter here.
Caol Ila has had almost completely consistent production since its opening, having only closed briefly during the Second World War due to regulations placed on the use of barley. Caol Ila changed hands multiple times during the 19th and early 20th centuries, with each new owner contributing to the expansion and development of the distillery. In 1972 the distillery was demolished and rebuilt to be able to function at a higher capacity. This expansion included advancing from two stills to six in order to meet the new high level of demand.