The Ultimate Firkin Islay Whisky

This is the story of two islands Islay & Sicily and how they produced an award-winning whisky. 

Firkin Islay combines the peaty smokiness of Caol Ila 2008 with the Muscat grape sweetness of Marsala. The flavours fuse together in our custom cask.

Our unique process mellows and softens the peat. Firkin Islay is a new take on a classic Islay whisky!

Salty peat & smoke with a touch of sweetness. 


Firkin Islay Caol Ila won a gold medal in the Whiskies of the World awards in the peated whiskies category. But that doesn’t come as a massive surprise. 

History of Caol Ila Distillery

The island of Islay lies off the west coast of Scotland and is the home of big, smoky, peaty whiskies. The Caol Ila distillery (pronounced Cull-Eela) is on the northeast tip of the island. 

The distillery has majestic sea views and a stunning location. Caol Ila translates as the ‘Sound of Islay’ in Gaelic. 

Hector Henderson founded Caol Ila in 1846 and it didn’t get off to a great start. Henderson sold it to Buchanans, the Whisky brokers in Glasgow, after only eight years.

But then Coal Ila thrived. The blending houses, who pioneered the global success of Scotch, needed peated whisky. Coal Ila was exactly what they needed

In 1871 the census revealed the closeness of families on the island. Douglas Johnstone was the distiller at Caol Ila, his uncle was at Lagavulin, and his cousin was at Laphroaig. 

Christmas Day must have been glorious for the Johnstone family.

The whisky at Caol Ila is famous for its lighter peat style, some floral notes and a touch of pepper. So how come it’s a more delicate style when it has a very similar malt bill to its cousin at Lagavulin? If you’ve not had Lagavulin (where have you been?!) it’s like licking the inside of a BBQ. Delicious! 

The key to Caol Ila’s lighter style are the stills. They are filled to around 33% of capacity. Under-filling the stills allows more reflux and which produces a delicate peat style. 

Why Marsala? Is it a type of salad? 

We chose marsala because it shares some of the depth of Caol Ila. It’s a complex wine with notes of stewed apricot, Vanilla, Tamarind and soft brown sugar. 

The taste profile comes from a maturation system like the solera system from Spain. The wine is transferred from cask to cask as it ages, intensifying the flavour and complexity. The wine ages and develops a unique sweet flavour, that’s also a bit spicy.

Our casks use American first-fill bourbon and new French Limousin oak staves. After we combine the staves, we burn the inside to make custom char. Our double oak cask creates an exceptional flavour profile with Marsala wine.

Tasting Notes

Firkin Islay Whisky Cartoon

Kapow! Smoke! Call the Fire Brigade! A waft of peat & smoke.

You only need to dig a bit for the malt and creamy oak which holds it together. This whisky has everything: big burning embers, smoky bonfire and a tad of mellowed sweetish oak. It's a peppery and lively spirit.

So chewy, so smoky, so Firkin Islay.

Try Some Firkin Awesome Whisky

The Firkin Whisky Co. doesn't take itself too seriously. When your single malt is this good, you don't need to be pretentious about it.

The whisky speaks for itself.

Written by Mike Collings & Evan Hirsch

Mike founded The Firkin Whisky Co. and Imperial Tribute. Over his 40 years in the whisky industry, he created Johnnie Walker Blue & Green Labels, The Classic Malts, Rare Malts, Distillers Edition, Flora & Fauna series, Cardhu and Royal Lochnagar.    

Evan co-founded TopWhiskiesTopWhiskies helps you find the best whisky from unique and independent brands.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published