Having recently seen several varieties of Kilchoman at a “big box” liquor store in Central Illinois (is no secret safe?) I was inspired to finally share my memories of how the names of the various Islay distilleries are pronounced. While I do not claim 100% accuracy (and am not Scottish), I feel that I do have a fairly keen ear for language and sounds. Here we go!
Caol Ila: kull-EE-lah
Bonus (city names)
Port Askaig: por-tus-KEHG
Port Ellen: por-TELL-in
Feel free to gently roll your r’s on the front of your tongue for extra authenticity! Of course there are many more Gaelic (which is apparently pronounced GAL-ik on Islay) names for various whisky varieties which I can barely remember; my favorite (and this spirit is apparently no longer available) was Bunnahabhain Cruach Mhona, pronounced kruch-VOH-nah and meaning “peat stack.” Ardbeg and Bunnahabhain definitely take first place in giving their expressions difficult-to-decipher Gaelic names… who can forget their first dram of Ardbeg Corryvreckan or Uigeadail, never mind Bunnahabhain Ceòbanach, Eirigh Na Greine or Toiteach (the latter apparently sounds quite Klingon)? Perhaps all of these names are easier to pronounce a few drams later – as was the case on the longest day of 2014 when Tom and I shared quite a few at the State Bar in Glasgow. Slàinte to you!