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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 litre bottle of Lagavulin's classic 16 year old. A must have Islay malt, with oodles of complexity. The definition of smoky whisky…  More info
This was distilled at Laphroaig in 1995, it was aged for 16 years in a single bourbon barrel, and it was bottled by Signatory in 2011. A release of 140 bottles.  More info
This was distilled at Laphroaig on the 1st July 1999. It was aged in two hogsheads for 11 years before bottling on the 2nd June 2011. A release of 715 bottles.  More info
What a very handsome and shiny wooden box this comes in. Behold it and marvel at its fine craftsmanship. The whisky contained within was distilled on the 15th September 1970 and aged for 40 years in...  More info
This was distilled at the Bunnahabhain distillery on the 19th September 1979, it was then aged for 31 years in a single refill sherry butt. It was bottled by Signatory on the 14th March 2011. A...  More info
$186.52
This was distilled at the Caol Ila distillery on the 8th November 2011 and aged for 27 years in hogshead 5283 before bottling on the 2nd February 2011. A release of 243 bottles.  More info
A 9 year old, single cask, cask strength Bunnahabhain. This was distilled on the 21st September 2001, it was aged in a first fill sherry butt, and was bottled on the 14th March 2011. A release of 583...  More info
$79.91
Distilled at Caol Ila on the 15th September 1999 and aged in two hogsheads before bottling on the 8th April 2011. A release of 926 bottles.  More info
$60.84
This Caol Ila was distilled on the 18th November 1999, and was aged in hogsheads before bottling on the 2nd June 2011. A release of 936 bottles from Signatory.  More info
$59.36
This cask strength, heavily peated Bunnahabhain was distilled on the 11th December 1997, and it was aged for 13 years in two hogsheads before bottling on the 16 May 2011. A release of 594 bottles.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
$71.25
Distilled at Bunnahabhain from heavily peated malt, this is an unusual expression from a distillery known for its gentle, fruity malts. 13 years old, and made from a vatting of two hogsheads. Bottled...  More info
$77.04
A fabulous cask strength release from Caol Ila, this was bottled for the 2011 Feis Ile (Islay Festival). We first tried this in the cold and rain at Caol Ila's blustery distillery day. It was just...  More info
An incredible high strength Caol Ila, especially when considering the age! This was distilled in 1975, and was bottled for Diageo's Rare Malts series. These old Rare Malts are well worth a try, as you...  More info
A 30 year old Bowmore, packaged in a handsome opaque black ceramic decanter bottle, with a beautifully painted sea dragon on the bottle. It has a dragon on it, so you know it must be good.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
$849.13
This was distilled at Bowmore in 2002, and it was initially aged in bourbon casks. It was then taken to Bruichladdich, where it was finished for a few years in Chateau Latour casks. A release of 2,100...  More info
$64.46
This was distilled at the Caol Ila distilled in 1990, and originally matured in bourbon casks. Then Murray McDavid took it to the Bruichladdich distillery, and reracked it into Chateau Haut Brion...  More info
A very rich, charactered 12 year old Bowmore, bottled by top bottlers, Alchemist. Very distinct, and uniquely Bowmore.  More info
$66.15
This Bowmore was aged in a sherry cask for 9 years. It was taken for additional maturation at the Bruichladdich warehouses, before bottling in 2009. A release of 1,600 bottles from Murray McDavid.  More info
$66.15
Aged for 3 years in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels, this is a wonderful expression from Kilchoman. This is made 100% on Islay, using nothing but local ingredients  More info
$101.72
Released in Spring of 2011, this is the 6th official release from Kilchoman, and it was created by vatting three and four year old casks of whisky (all first and refill bourbon).  More info
$78.35
A staggeringly rich 40 year old Bunnahabhain, bottled by Duncan Taylor for their Lonach range.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.5/5)
Distilled at Bunnahabhain in February 1979, this was aged for 32 years in cask number 1774 before bottling at natural cask strength in June 2011. A release of 499 bottles from Duncan Taylor.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
1997 vintage Caol Ila, bottled as part of Diageo's superb Distillers Edition range. This was finished in Moscatel wine casks, and the result is a nuttier, fruitier whisky. Well worth a try.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.0/5)
$79.74
Bowmore 29 Year Old 1982
(70cl, 47.30%)
An astounding 2011 edition from Bowmore. This was distilled in 1982, and comes packaged in a very handsome wooden box, with its own leather strap. Each bottle comes with a certificate of authenticity...  More info
Distilled at Caol Ila on the 13th November 1984, this was aged for 25 years in hogshead 5390 before bottling on the 8th July 2010 for the Bladnoch distillery forum. Natural cask strength and no added...  More info
$144.28
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