Caol Ila's distillery character manages to combine a fresh pear note, grassiness, a hint of juniper with distinct notes of the seashore – lobster shells, crab creels and gentle smoke. Although it receives the same spec of malt as sister distillery Lagavulin, Caol Ila’s distillation regime – longer fermentation, higher cut point, taller stills, helps to reduce the heavy phenols. Maturation for the single malt is in refill casks. The unpeated variant is equally delicate with a fresh estery and almost floral lift.
Its importance for blends meant that until 2002, when a 12-year-old was released, malt lovers had to seek out independent bottlings. Now there is a range including no-age-statement Moch, 18-year-old and 25-year-old, a finished Distillers Edition and annual special releases.