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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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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
$60.96
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
$60.96
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
$93.74
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
$72.20
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)
$73.48
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
$132.96
Smoky and rich, this is a full-bodied, powerful Caol Ila with notes of Latakia. Distilled in 1980 and bottled in 2011 by Berry Brothers and Rudd. Cask 4938.  More info
$179.92
This Bunnahabhain was distilled from peated malt in 1997 and aged for 13 years in a refill sherry cask before it was bottled by Adelphi. This was bottled in aid of the genesis research trust, and...  More info
The second release in the Lg range of Elements. An interesting alternative to the distillery's standard bottling.  More info
$76.98
The penultimate part in the Young series from Ardbeg, spanning the development of Ardbeg, from Very Young, all the way up to 10 years. This was distilled in 1998, and offers lots of complexity and a...  More info
$154.87
Cask strength Bowmore, this was distilled in 1991, and aged solely in port pipes. A release of 18,000 bottles.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
Distilled in 2001, this is a 9 year old Caol Ila, bottled at natural cask strength by Adelphi.  More info
An intense 31 year old single cask Bunnahabhain. This was distilled in 1979 and it was bottled at natural cask strength by Adelphi.  More info
An unpeated variant of Caol Ila, this is aged for 8 years, and bottled at a staggering 64.9% abv!  More info
Bottled for the Boisdale Bar and Restaurant, this was distilled at Laphroaig in 1998, and aged in hogshead number 700218 before bottling in 2011. Selected by Doug McIvor.  More info
$82.88
Distilled at Caol Ila in 1983 and bottled in 2011 at cask strength by Berry Brothers and Rudd.  More info
$125.14
25 year old Bowmore, this was distilled on the 22nd November 1985, and aged in a single bourbon barrel (number 32212) before bottling on the 24th November 2010. A release of 279 numbered bottles at...  More info
Batch three of Laphroaig's new cask strength 10 year old. This is a stunning whisky with oodles (literally oodles) of complexity and flavour.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
A 27 year old Port Ellen from a single cask! This was distilled in the Winter 1983 and aged in cask 6000 (a refill hogshead) before bottling in Spring 2010 for the Provenance range.  More info
Distilled in Laphroaig in November 1990, aged in refill hogshead for 16 years and bottled in December 2006 for Douglas Laing's Old Malt Cask range. A release of 295 bottles.  More info
A 26 year old from perhaps Islay's most legendary distillery, Port Ellen. This was distilled in Spring 1983 (just a few months before the distillery was shut down permenantly), and it was aged in...  More info
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