Single Malt Scotch Whisky – Islay
Islay (pronounced ‘EYE-lay’) is the southernmost of the Western Isles of Scotland and, apart from the single malt Scotch whisky produced in Speyside, it is definitely the most popular regions to buy single malt Scotch from. Islay boasts the highest concentration of single malt Scotch whisky distilleries on any of the other islands with around 8 distilleries. Because of this and because of the unique single malt whisky produced Islay is classed assingle malt whiskey a whisky producing region in it’s own right. Whiskies produced in Islay are usually associated with a strong peaty flavour. Islay produces some of the best single malt whiskies from the whole of Scotland. It was probably on Islay where whisky distillation was first started in Scotland.
Single Malt Scotch Whisky Distilleries on Islay
Let’s take a short tour of some of the most well know distilleries on Islay, starting with the north and working our way south.
The Bunnahabhain (Pronounced ‘BOON-a-havn’) produces one of the milder Islay single malt whiskies and has a very unique taste, different to that of other Islay whiskies. It has been producing whisky since 1881.
Bowmore. The oldest distillery on the island and one of the most popular Islay single malt whiskies being the second best selling whisky behind Laphroaig. The single malts produced are peaty – not as light as Bunnahabhain and not as intense as Laphroaig and Lagavullin. Most of the barley used is locally sourced, with some also being imported from the mainland. They produce many limited editions whiskies, with the most expensive being the Bowmore Trilogy – three rare whiskies which cost around £15,000.
Lagavulin. The single malts distilled here are some of the most intense smokiest whiskies a person will taste. The peat is taken from a local peat bog which has very dark peat. The single malt whisky is one of the slowest distilled, with the first distillation taking around 5 hours and the second 9 hours. Most of the whisky is for sale as single malt and only about 2% is kept for blending. It is one of the six classic malts. It used to be the best selling Islay malt until Laphroaig took over.
Laphroaig. (Pronounced ‘La-FROYg’) Currently the best selling Islay whisky and it has an almost cult following. There is certainly not another single malt whisky which compares to Laphroaig. It has an very pungent flavour. It also has royal connections, with the 15 yr old single malt being the favourite of Prince Charles. They also produce 27- 30- and 40- year old single malts which are rare and expensive.
Bruichladdich. (Pronounced ‘brook-lad-ee’) This Bruichladdich distillery has established itself over the past years as a producer of great single malts. This is the only independent distillery on Islay and they have the oldest working still in Scotland. When it was built in 1881 it was a state-of-the-art whisky distillery, being purpose built – rather than evolving from farm distilleries. It has gone through many changes of owners over the many years it has been in production. Then in 2000 it was purchased by a group of private investors. It was dismantled and reassembled in 2001 and it retains it’s original Victorian decor and equipment. Most of the original machinery is still in use today.
Single Malt Scotches From Islay – In Conclusion
Islay single malt scotch whiskies represent some of the best single malt whiskies available. They have all the elements that people expect from single malts with very pronounced peaty tastes, although some of the more pungent ones might be a little to strong for some people.