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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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Distilled at Caol Ila on the 13th November and matured in cask number 5387 for 25 years before bottling by Bladnoch on the 23rd March 2010. A release of 263 numbered bottles at cask strength.  More info
Distilled at Bowmore in 1994 and matured in refill sherry casks for 14 years before bottling by Murray McDavid at the Bruichladdich distillery in 2009. An outturn of 486 bottles.  More info
7 year old Bowmore, bottled for Murray McDavid. This was distilled at the Bowmore distillery in 2002, aged in bourbon barrels and then finished in casks from First Growth Bordeaux winery Château...  More info
Selected by Jim McEwan, this was distilled at Bunnahabhain in 1997, and aged in bourbon casks before a finish in Premier Cru Sauternes casks from Château d'Yquem. Bottled at the Bruichladdich...  More info
A release of 755 bottles, distilled at Bunnahabhain, matured in bourbon barrels and taken to Bruichladdich for bottling in 2009. A cask strength 19 year old bottled by Murray McDavid.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (2.5/5)
$113.83
Vintage Bunnahabhain selected by Jim McEwan (Master Distiller at Bruichladdich). This was distilled in 1978, matured in Oloroso casks for a whopping 30 years, and bottled at the Bruichladdich...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.5/5)
Two casks of Bunnahabhain, packaged beautifully. This was distilled in 1976 and matured for 31 years in two Fino Sherry casks, numbers 1028 and 1134, before bottles at cask strength by Murray McDavid.  More info
From the Murray McDavid Mission series of casks selected by Jim McEwan and bottled at the Bruichladdich distillery. This was distilled at Caol Ila in 1990, matured in bourbon barrels for 17 years and...  More info
A wonderfully unique Caol Ila, this was distilled in 1991 and initially aged in bourbon barrels. Jim McEwan, Bruichladdich Master Distiller, selected the cask and then transferred the whisky into...  More info
A 10 year old Laphroaig, bottled by Murray McDavid. This was distilled at the Laphroaig distillery in 1999, and aged in bourbon casks before it was specially selected by Bruichladdich's Jim McEwan. It...  More info
A 12 year old Islay malt from the Caol Ila distillery. This was bottled for the exceptional new Alchemist range.  More info
A 15 year old from Scotland's most innovative distillery, Bruichladdich. This was bottled for the new range from Alchemist.  More info
This stunning Port Ellen was distilled on the 2nd of February 1983 (just a few months before the distillery closed for good) and was aged in wine treated butt number 231 for 27 years before bottling...  More info
27 year old Port Ellen distilled in 1982. This is rare whisky, aged in Bourbon casks and finished in ChÔteau D'Yquem sauternes barrels. This was bottled at the Bruichladdich distillery in 2009, and is...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.5/5)
Signatory's Un-Chillfiltered collection is range of single malts from some classic distilleries, none of which have been chill-filtered, or artificially coloured. Just pure, unadulterated whisky, as...  More info
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

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