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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 cask strength release from the Islay distillery, Bowmore. This 'Claret' finish whisky has been matured for 16 years, with a finish in a Bordeaux Wine Cask - the label is emblazoned, accordingly...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
Ardbeg 1978
(70cl, 43%)
A rather rare release from Ardbeg, this 1978 vintage represents single malt from the prodigious Ileach distillery at its most balanced and poised. Superb.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (3.5/5)
A Bowmore from Kilchoman? Sort of... Kilchoman uses the MacBeatha name to market their single cask bottlings from other Islay distilleries. This is the fourth edition in the range, a single cask...  More info
$146.11
An 18 year old single cask Ardbeg, this was matured in a refill hogshead, distilled in March 1991 and bottled in September 2009 by Douglas Laing with an outturn of 316 bottles.  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)
$112.61
A 13 year old Laphroaig distilled on the 12th May 1998 and aged in hogsheads 5554 and 5555 before bottling for Signatory's Un-Chillfiltered Collection on the 27th April 2012. A release of 666 numbered...  More info
$79.89
This is the first sherry matured whisky from Kilchoman, and despite being a mere five years of age it's a very characterful dram from an Islay distillery that's producing some wonderful whisky.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (3.5/5)
$83.13
This was distilled at the Laphroaig distillery on the 4th April 1995, and it was aged for 16 years in bourbon barrel 47 before bottling by Signatory for its Cask Strength Collection on the 25th...  More info
$124.20
An old 10 year old Bruichladdich from before the recent spate of dumpy bottles. This is rare stuff, bottled during the 1990s.  More info
This very special Bowmore was distilled on the 14th June 1999 and it was aged in sherry, bourbon and wine casks in warehouse 6 before bottling in 2009 for that year's Feis Ile. A release of 900...  More info
$209.85
This is a "Strictly Limited" single cask Bunnahabhain from Carn Mor. It was distilled in 2001 before a maturation in a single sherry puncheon. Bottled in 2012, there are just 785 bottles available.  More info
$69.33
A delicious 16 year old, 1996 vintage from Wemyss Malts' range of superbly appropriately named whiskies - this is Lemon Smoke... It comes from a secret distillery on Islay - let's just say it's C Ila...  More info
Kilchoman Feis Ile 2010
(70cl, 62.20%)
This was distilled in 2007, and bottled especially for the Islay festival in 2010. A wonderful release of Kilchoman, aged for three years in fresh bourbon barrels. Bottled at Natural cask strength.  More info
$579.33
A 9 year old Bowmore from Douglas Laing's Provenance range. This whisky was distilled in Summer 1999 and bottled in 2009 after maturation in a single refill hogshead.  More info
$74.82
A peaty, smoky 8 year old whisky, this Laphroaig was bottled for Douglas Laing's Ceramic Premier Barrel range. A release of 371 decanter bottles.  More info
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)
Bowmore 16 Year Old 1989
(70cl, 51.80%)
A cask strength 16 year old, a rare edition from a vatting of 134 casks of 1989 vintage Bowmore, most of the casks were ex-bourbon. The resultant single malt is thick and exudes fruit and floral...  More info
The rare first release of the bourbon matured expression from the Bruichladdich distillery, this 18 year old then enjoyed a further finish in Willi Opitz Pinot Noir casks and exhibits some crisp...  More info
$108.83
A superb and very rare 12 year old Bunnahabhain at natural cask strength, matured in an Amontillado sherry cask. This was bottled especially for the 2012 Feis Ile (Islay Festival) and there are just...  More info
$503.76
A beautiful single cask Bunnahabhain from Duncan Taylor's Octave cask range. This was distilled in 1979 and finished in smaller "Octave" casks, the result of which is an increased maturation and added...  More info
$295.84
A big, punchy cask-strength Laphroaig bottled by Signatory as part of their Single Cask Series.  More info
$131.72
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)
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
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
$101.69

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