Let’s whisk you away to the wonderful world of Scottish Whisky. Located off the west coast of Scotland, Islay (pronounced as eye-lah) is home to some of the much-loved distilleries in the UK, eight to be exact. In today’s blog post, we’ll (virtually) take you around where these whiskies are made with love, care, fertile soil and heaps of barley. Grab a dram and let’s start our tour of Islay.
200 years - that’s how long Ardbeg has been making great whisky on the Argyll and Bute island. The Ardbeg distillery has been producing whisky since 1798 and began commercial production in 1815.
Whisky connoisseurs describe Ardbeg as “as close to perfection as makes no difference.” Ardbeg speaks for itself as the whisky has won numerous awards over the years including World Whisky of the Year, Scotch Whisky of the Year and World’s Best Single Malt. Ardbeg has the title of THE MOST HIGHLY AWARDED SMOKY SINGLE MALT WHISKY IN THE WORLD and we would highly recommend trying ARDBEG GUARANTEED 30 YEAR OLD - A vintage rare old Ardbeg distilled way back in 1966 and maturing whilst the distillery was going through a troubled time.
Ardbeg Distillery, Port Ellen Islay Argyll PA42 7EA
The original distillery built in 1779 and home to the oldest Scotch whisky maturation warehouse in the world. The Bowmore Distillery was established in 1779 by a local merchant, John P. Simson, before passing into the ownership of the Mutter family, a family of German descent.[ If you like your whisky a little bit fruity and a wee bit floral then Bowmore is the one for you! What is amazing is they have a "malting floor," where the barley is turned and stirred by hand. Unlock layers of peat smoke and sweetness in their BOWMORE 100 DEGREES PROOF 1 LITRE, give it a try and have a taste of Scottish whisky history!
Bowmore Distillery, School St, Bowmore Isle Of Islay PA43 7JS
Inside this distillery, you will find four unique spirits which are made here including Bruichladdich itself, Port Charlotte, Octomore Single Malt and The Botanist Dry Gin. Bruichladdich was built in 1881 by the Harvey brothers—William (32), John (31) and Robert (23)—on the shore of Loch Indaal, on the Rinns of Islay, the westernmost part of the island. They use 100% Scottish barely and they believe it’s called “Scotch” for a reason. Bruichladdich is living proof that the traditional whisky regions of Scotland make no sense. Bruichladdich was specifically designed to produce the purest unpeated spirit possible and even though none of the 19th-century spirits survives, they still celebrate it inside their fine array of whiskies including the FEIS ILE 2015 BLACK ART VALINCH.
Bruichladdich Distillery, Isle of Islay Argyll Scotland PA49 7UN
Bunnahabhain is Gaelic for ‘Mouth of the River’ and it stands at the mouth of the Margadale Spring on the shores of the Sound of Islay. The Bunnahabhain is one of the milder single malt Islay whiskies available and its taste varies greatly from other spirits to be found on the island of Islay, off the west coast of Scotland. What sets Bunnahabhain apart is their signature unpeated style, and the rich, complex layers of each cask matured in the bay. Bunnahabhain is the only distillery on the island to use pure, spring water and you can taste the difference in whiskies by having a dram of their 16-YEAR-OLD AMONTILLADO.
Bunnahabhain Distillery, Distell Group Ltd. Port Askaig Isle of Islay, PA46 7RP
5. Caol Ila
Cull-Eela is how you pronounce the name of this distillery. Sheltered in a hidden bay just north of Port Askaig, is set amongst stunning scenery is now the largest malt whisky distillery on Islay. This distillery is the largest on Islay, producing up to 3 million litres per year of a whisky that's as light as it is flavourful. Caol Ila is one of the lighter Islay whiskies, pale in colour, with peaty, floral and peppery notes. Why not try their 35-YEAR-OLD SPECIAL RELEASE with a mixture of refill American-oak hogsheads, and both refill American- and European-oak butts.
Port Askaig, Isle Of Islay, Argyll, PA46 7RL
The picturesque Kilchoman Distillery sits nestled amongst the traditional buildings of Rockside Farm on the north-west coast of Islay. The distillery is unique in many ways, most notably for our 100% Islay range, Islay’s only Single Farm Single Malt – from barley to bottle. The distillery began production in June 2005 and was the first to be built on the island of Islay in 124 years. The distillery uses barley grown on site at Rockside Farm and malted at the distillery, as well as malt from the Port Ellen Maltings and releases separate bottlings depending on the source of the grain. Try their MACHIR BAY 2015 bottling, you won’t regret it!
Rockside Farm, Isle of Islay, Scotland PA49 7UT
Situated on the picturesque Lagavulin bay, this is an experience not to be missed! The standard Lagavulin single malt is 16 years old (43%), though they regularly release a 12-year-old cask strength variety, a Distiller's edition finished in Pedro Ximénez casks, and 25- and 30-year-old varieties. On a small bay near the south coast of Islay near the ruins of Dunyveg Castle, Lagavulin Distillery is thought to be one of the longest established distilleries in the country. Records show that John Johnston and Archibald Campbell were distilling their own whisky—with or without the law—all the way back in 1742, how about that! Full of flavour that you won’t forget, taste their 1980 DISTILLERS EDITION!
Lagavulin Distillery, Port Ellen, Isle of Islay, Argyll, PA42 7DZ
Last but certainly not least, Laphroaig (pronounced La-froyg) is a lovely Gaelic name, meaning "the beautiful hollow by the broad bay.” The Laphroaig distillery was established in 1815 by Donald and Alexander Johnston. The Johnstons who founded Laphroaig were from the Clan Donald and are likely to be from the MacIain of Ardnamurchan branch of the clan. The family anglicised their name to Johnston.
Prince Charles of Wales awarded it the Royal Warrant of HRH. It’s one of the most divisive Scotch whiskies, loved by those who enjoy its medicinal, smoky flavour. Their 10-YEAR-OLD PRE ROYAL WARRANT is a fine malt worth tasting!
Laphroaig Distillery, Port Ellen, Isle of Islay PA42 7DU
We hope you’ve enjoyed your little tour of Islay’s whisky distilleries here at Old & Rare Whisky and we’ll see you soon for our next whisky adventure together!
In tribute of Father’s Day, Old & Rare has put selected or top 5 drams for dads to give you some inspiration when it comes to the whisky that’ll earn you some brownie points with dad.