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Islay Whisky

Islay (pronounced ‘eye-luh’) whiskies are among Scotland’s most powerful, thunderous drams. Often with plenty of peat and smoke, brine and medicinal flavours, of all the whisky regions of Scotland Islay has attained a truly iconic status. When compared to the various drink producing regions of the world, be it the Grande Champagne designation of Cognac or the first growths of Bordeaux, or that distant island, Madeira, there is something magical about the illustrious Scottish Isle, some 35 miles from the coast of Northern Island.

There are some nine distilleries on the Isle. To the North there lies Bunnahabhain and Caol Ila, to the west of Loch Indaal sits Bruichladdich and further west, the newly founded Kilchoman - Scotland’s most westerly distillery. To the centre of the isle sits the mighty Bowmore, but it is from the southern coast, not far from Port Ellen and the closed distillery of the same name, that the most pungent whisky emanates, produced by the trio of leviathan Ileach distilleries; Ardbeg, Lagavulin and of course Laphroaig. There is a defined power to the whisky, peat being the obvious attribute, certainly the best associated. Smoke is both a flavour of its own, but is intrinsically linked with peat. The peat flavour is imparted during the barley malted process, the smoke used to dry out the barley is produced by burning peat.

There is a marked reduction in peaty power to the far north; the malts of Bruichladdich and Bunnahabhain are comparatively soft. In Bruichladdich’s case it is due to the relative shelter from the elements that the Rhinns proffers. For Bunnahabhain it is the unpeated malt and the water source, the Margadale springs, cutting their course in stoic avoidance of the peat beds of Islay. Islay single malts also have a refined salinity; there is a profusion of seaweedy, kelp-rich whiskies.

This is often attributed to the terroir. The Islay distilleries possess a relative close proximity with the sea, all of which save for Kilchoman, the only inlander. The sea spray is said to whip across the warehouses, the salty air penetrates the barrels and flavours the maturing whisky. Of late, whiskies from Islay have become increasingly sought after.

Islay Whiskey

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Tasting Sets
A 27 year old Port Ellen from a single cask! This was distilled in the Winter 1983 and aged in cask 6000 (a refill hogshead) before bottling in Spring 2010 for the Provenance range.  More info
Batch three of Laphroaig's new cask strength 10 year old. This is a stunning whisky with oodles (literally oodles) of complexity and flavour.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
25 year old Bowmore, this was distilled on the 22nd November 1985, and aged in a single bourbon barrel (number 32212) before bottling on the 24th November 2010. A release of 279 numbered bottles at...  More info
Distilled at Caol Ila in 1983 and bottled in 2011 at cask strength by Berry Brothers and Rudd.  More info
$135.74
Bottled for the Boisdale Bar and Restaurant, this was distilled at Laphroaig in 1998, and aged in hogshead number 700218 before bottling in 2011. Selected by Doug McIvor.  More info
$89.90
An unpeated variant of Caol Ila, this is aged for 8 years, and bottled at a staggering 64.9% abv!  More info
An intense 31 year old single cask Bunnahabhain. This was distilled in 1979 and it was bottled at natural cask strength by Adelphi.  More info
Distilled in 2001, this is a 9 year old Caol Ila, bottled at natural cask strength by Adelphi.  More info
Cask strength Bowmore, this was distilled in 1991, and aged solely in port pipes. A release of 18,000 bottles.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
The penultimate part in the Young series from Ardbeg, spanning the development of Ardbeg, from Very Young, all the way up to 10 years. This was distilled in 1998, and offers lots of complexity and a...  More info
$167.99
Bowmore Legend
(70cl, 40%)
A young, rather gentle Bowmore. Whilst not massively complex or full-bodied, Legend is still a great value for money malt.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (3.5/5)
A peaty Old Malt Cask. This was distilled at Laphroaig in April 1992 and bottled in January 2009 as a release of 691 bottles. This was aged in refill butt number 4825.  More info
A special release from Bruichladdich for the 2010 Islay Festival, this was distilled in 2004 and aged in a fresh sherry butt (cask number 1667) before bottling as part of an outturn of 1060 50cl...  More info
$107.65
Caol Ila Feis Ile 2010
(70cl, 61.90%)
The 2010 Feis Ile (Islay Festival) saw some exceptional special releases from some of Scotland's best-loved distilleries. Caol Ila offered this stunning natural cask strength bottling, filled into...  More info
$187.93
This was distilled not long before the Port Ellen distillery closed for good. Bottled in August 2009 by Douglas Laing, there are 610 bottles of this, from refill butt number 5441.  More info
A 27 year old, single cask Port Ellen, need we say more? Well, just in case we'll add that it was distilled in Spring 1983 (just before the legendary distillery closed for good) and was bottled in...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.5/5)
Lagavulin Distillery Only
(70cl, 52.50%)
A very special Lagavulin, this "distillery only" bottling is made with the remnant of whisky from a previous bottling run of Distiller's Edition. It is then re-casked and left for a few extra years.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
$305.51
Lagavulin Feis Ile 2010
(70cl, 52.70%)
A special release from the Lagavulin distillery, distilled in 1994 and filled into a European Oak Sherry cask (number 3210) on the 1st August 1994, and aged for 15 years before bottling in 2010. Each...  More info
$187.93
12 year old single malt from a secret Islay distillery, the Ileach series is very well-rated by critics and whisky connoisseurs alike, great stuff!  More info
A 34 year old Bunnahabhain selected by Jim McEwan (Master Distiller at Bruichladdich). The Celtic Heartlands range exhibits Jim's incredible originality when it comes to Scotch whisky, and this 1973...  More info
12 year old Bowmore from Duncan Taylor's NC2 range of Non-Chillfiltered, Non Caramel Coloured whisky. This was distilled in 1998 and bottled in 2010.  More info
14 year old Bruichladdich, this was aged for 14 years in bourbon casks before being finished in Kosher wine casks from the Carmel winery in Israel.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (0.5/5)
$65.11
A 14 year old Bunnahabhain aged in Medoc barrels (casks 90281 and 90282) before bottling in 2009 as part of a release of 516 bottles.  More info
A 1989 vintage from the Bruichladdich distillery and a very unusual whisky indeed; this was aged for 18 years in bourbon casks, before a finish in Kosher wine casks from the Carmel winery in Israel...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
A rare and very handsome Bowmore, distilled in November of 1987 and aged for 22 years before bottling in April 2010. This was finished in a sherry hogshead which bore 244 bottles of cask strength...  More info

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