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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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Ardbeg Whisky Distillery
Origin Gin
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Tasting Sets
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Master of Malt Single Cask Whisky
Matured 100% in ex-bourbon casks, this 16 year old single malt proffers the chance to sample raw Bruichladdich, this bottling was launched to commemorate the 75th anniversary since US Prohibition was...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.0/5)
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
Bunnahabhain 30 Year Old
(70cl, 45.40%)
A super-limited release from Bunnahabhain in a very fetching 30 year old salmon-pink presentation case. Complete with a scroll of authenticity and a silver Quaich.  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
A rare single cask Laphroaig, distilled in February of 1986, and aged for 25 years in a refill hogshead before bottling for Douglas Laing's Old and Rare Platinum Selection in December 2011, an outturn...  More info
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SMWS' first bottling from the Port Charlotte distillery! This is a super rare little whisky, which was distilled in December 2001 and aged in a single refill barrel for 8 years before bottling. It's...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
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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)
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This was made using something called "Cask Evolution Exploration". One suspects that means "finishing it in something exotic-sounding." This was aged in bourbon casks, before a finish in Tempranillo...  More info
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This was distilled at the Bowmore distilled on the 22nd November 1985 before a 25 year maturation in hogshead 32207. It was bottled by Signatory for their Cask Strength Collection on the 25th October...  More info
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Bruichladdich Peat
(70cl, 46%)
A newer release to replace the 3D bottling, a more peat rich single malt from the Bruichladdich distillery with phenol levels of 35ppm, though it does not overbear the typical 'Laddie characteristics...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
Batch 2 of the excellent cask strength Laphroaig 10. This was bottled in January 2010 and it's incredible; full of classic Laphroaig flavour, cranked up to 11…  More info
A Mackillop's Choice bottling of 30 year old single cask Caol Ila. This was distilled in 1981 and bottled in early 2012. It's cask strength and non-chill filtered.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.5/5)
A single cask, independent bottling of Ardbeg, likely to sell out before I finish typing this sentence! It was distilled in 1993 and aged for 18 years in a bourbon cask before bottling at the...  More info
This was distilled on the 22nd November 1985 and matured in hogshead number 32203 for 23 years before bottling by Signatory on the 13th January 2009. A release of just 234 bottles of cask strength...  More info
The ninth release in the Links series of casks selected by Jim McEwan, the master distiller, the label on this 15 year old features a painting of Birkdale by the renowned golf artist, Graeme W...  More info
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Some 25 year old single cask Bowmore. This was distilled in March 1983 and aged in a refill hogshead. Bottled by Douglas Laing in March 2008, with an outturn of 259 bottles.  More info
Bowmore Darkest
(70cl, 43%)
A rich, sherry-matured Bowmore. Very similar to the world famous Black Bowmore, though much younger. Very intense and fruity.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.5/5)
A big, punchy cask-strength Laphroaig bottled by Signatory as part of their Single Cask Series.  More info
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This Natural Cask Strength single malt bottling from the Caol Ila distillery is a surprisingly smooth dram. Oily with pungent smoke and malt.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.5/5)
This is the latest release from Bruichladdich. An un-peated sixteen year old bottling from an American Oak cask.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.0/5)
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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The 2010 Lagavulin Special Release from Diageo. This 12 year old is a vatting of refil American oak casks, and it marks the 9th in the series so far. Sweet and intense.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.5/5)
This was distilled in April 1992 and aged in refill hogshead number 3932 for15 years before bottling in October 2007 as an "Advance Sample" from the Old Malt Cask range.  More info
Ardbeg Uigeadail is a 'dark and mysterious' expression from the popular Islay distillery, a rich and smoky single malt with incredible balance and depth of flavour. This one has a slightly damaged...  More info
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A 31 year old Caol Ila distilled on the 2nd May 1979 and aged in cask 5305 before bottling in June of 2010 for the Mackillop's Choice range.  More info

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