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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 Whisky

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A 30 year old single cask Caol Ila from Signatory's excellent Cask Strength Collection. Just 253 bottles of this Islay whisky were produced, distilled in December 1982 and bottled in May 2013.  More info
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Smoky, fleeting, and somewhat ethereal. Delicious single cask Bunnahabhain from Wemyss.  More info
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An 18 year old red wine finished Caol Ila from superb bottler Gordon & MacPhail.  More info
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This is a single malt whisky bottled by Wemyss Malts. Wemyss originally dealt in wine, as such they are taking a vintner's approach to selecting whisky.

Wemyss name their single malt whiskies after...  More info
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A 13 year old Bowmore distilled in May 1997 and aged in a single refill hogshead before bottling by Douglas Laing in February 2011. This comes from the Old Malt Cask range, and there are just 297...  More info
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This was distilled at Bowmore on the 13th June 1997, and it was aged for 14 years in hogsheads 1906 and 1907 before bottling on the 13th June 2011. A release of 779 numbered bottles from Signatory.  More info
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A 24 year old single malt from the Caol Ila distillery on Islay and bottled in 2008 by the Vintage Whisky Co. as part of The Coopers Choice range.  More info
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Since December 1991, two casks of single malt Bunnahabhain whisky sat waiting for the day when it would become part of the Signatory Un-Chillfiltered Collection. 15 years later... that day has come!  More info
$76.69
This is a smoky, rich 21 year old Caol Ila from the Vintage Malt Whisky Company's Coopers Choice range. It was aged in a single cask (number 9056) before bottling in 2012.  More info
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Cask strength Bunnahabhain - unpeated - from Signatory. Distilled in October 2001 and bottled in September 2012, shortly before it had spent 11 years in cask 1766.  More info
$82.26
This Bruichladdich was distilled before the distillery was moth-balled and reopened. Berry Brothers and Rudd of St James', London, bottled this particular Bruichladdich in 2011.  More info
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This was distilled at Bowmore in Autumn of 2000 and aged for 10 years in a single refill hogshead before bottling for the Provenance range from Douglas Laing in Autumn of 2010. Deliciously malty...  More info
$82.01
This was distilled at Caol Ila on the 14th December 1982 before a 29 year maturation in a single cask (hogshead 6485). It was bottled at natural cask strength in December 2012, and it comes from...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
$258.76
Bere barley is one of the oldest cereal crops in Britain. It may have been brought over by the Vikings in the 9th century and has been grown ever since, having been used in single malt whiskies before...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
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This Bunnahabhain was bottled from an ex-sherry cask by Douglas Laing for their Old Malt Cask range.  More info
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A smoky single malt distilled at Bowmore in 1994 and bottled by BBR.  More info
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Honey Spice from Wemyss Malts is a tasty Bunnahabhain matured in first fill sherry casks and bottled at 46%.  More info
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A sherry-matured 10 year old Bunnahabhain from Douglas Laing's Old Malt Cask range. This was distilled in December of 2001 and bottled in 2011 at the "preferred strength of 50%". Lovely stuff.  More info
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And old (and by proxy, rare) bottle of Bunnahabhain 12. This was bottled back in those heady times when whisky came in 75cl bottles.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.5/5)
Caol Ila is Islay's biggest producer in terms of volume. By jingo it's good though. Oh yes.  More info
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A young and punchy 11 year old single cask peated offering from Caol Ila distillery, bottled by Adelphi in early 2013.  More info
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A very rich, charactered 12 year old Bowmore, bottled by top bottlers, Alchemist. Very distinct, and uniquely Bowmore.  More info
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This is a sherry-matured Caol Ila from Gordon and MacPhail's Connoisseurs Choice range. It was distilled in 1998 and bottled in 2010.  More info
$68.19
This is a very tasty single cask, sherry-matured Bunnahabhain from the Vintage Malt Whisky Company's Coopers Choice range. It was distilled in 2001 and was aged in sherry butt number 3196 for 10 years...  More info
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An utterly fabulous on-going annual release of Lagavulin, from Diageo's Special Releases. 2011 sees this cask strength monster offering up oodles of complexity thanks to its maturation in refill...  More info

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