Major Expansion at Islay's Caol Ila Distillery

Islay's famous whisky industry received a major boost with the announcement last week that Diageo, the world’s leading premium drinks business, is to invest £3.5million in expanding and upgrading its Caol Ila distillery. Caol Ila distillery produces will see its production capacity increased by 700,000 litres per year from 5.7 million litres per annum (mla) to 6.4mla. The extension of the distillery will see two new 62,000litre washbacks installed in addition to the eight which are already onsite. It is the new washbacks that will drive the increased production capacity. The refurbishment of the distillery will see key equipment upgraded, including the replacement of the distillery’s mash tun – a crucial piece of equipment in the distillation process – and a new control system installed in the stillhouse. Caol Ila's six large onion-shaped copper stills, overlooking the Sound of Islay, are not part of the refurbishment project.

The investment is a major boost to local contractors who will benefit from work on the site as well as generating a knock-on financial benefit to the local economy from contractors who will have to be brought on to the island to carry out aspects of the work. The Caol Ila project builds on £3million which Diageo has already invested in upgrading and developing its Port Ellen Maltings on Islay over the past three years. Continue reading...

The refurbishment work is scheduled to take six months beginning in June, following the Islay Festival. The distillery will be closed to public tours for that period; however, the distillery shop will remain open to visitors. Kevin Sutherland, Diageo’s Senior Site Manager on Islay, welcomed the investment as a major boost to the island’s whisky industry. He said: "This is great news for Caol Ila and great news for Islay. An investment of this scale is fantastic for the local economy and it signals Diageo’s deep-rooted commitment to the Islay whisky industry. Bryan Donaghey said: The expansion of Caol Ila demonstrates our commitment to another of Scotland’s great whisky-making locations. The success and growth of our Islay distilleries is central to our ambitions for the Scotch whisky industry and demonstrates again our confidence in and commitment to the future of Scotland and Scotch."

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