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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.

Bruichladdich 18 Year Old 1989 Kosher Wine Finish

70cl, 46%
Bruichladdich

A 1989 vintage from the Bruichladdich distillery and a very unusual whisky indeed; this was aged for 18 years in bourbon casks, before a finish in Kosher wine casks from the Carmel winery in Israel.…  More info

Bruichladdich 18 Year Old 1989 Kosher Wine Finish
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Bunnahabhain 33 Year Old 1976 - Mission (Murray McDavid)

70cl, 49.30%
Bunnahabhain

A single cask, 33 year old, cask strength Bunnahabhain distilled in 1976. Bottled for Murray McDavid's Mission range. Fantastic whisky, aged in fino sherry casks!  More info

Bunnahabhain 33 Year Old 1976 - Mission (Murray McDavid)
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Laphroaig 16 Year Old 1990 - Old Malt Cask (Douglas Laing)

70cl, 50%
Laphroaig

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

Laphroaig 16 Year Old 1990 - Old Malt Cask (Douglas Laing)

Bowmore 25 Year Old 1985 Cask 32211 - Cask Strength Collection (Signatory)

70cl, 56.10%
Bowmore

This cask strength, single cask Bowmore was distilled on the 22nd November 1985, and it was aged in hogshead 32211 for 25 years before bottling by Signatory on the 16th June 2011. A release of 257…  More info

Bowmore 25 Year Old 1985 Cask 32211 - Cask Strength Collection (Signatory)
$121.92

Bruichladdich 15 Year Old - Links Series Valhalla

70cl, 46%
Bruichladdich

Part ten in the Golf themed Links series from Bruichladdich. Each bottle is made up of whisky from casks specially selected by Jim McEwan, the Laddie master distiller. This 15 year old features a…  More info

Bruichladdich 15 Year Old - Links Series Valhalla

Bowmore 12 Year Old 1998 (Adelphi)

70cl, 61.90%
Bowmore

This was distilled at Bowmore in 1998, and it was aged in refill sherry cask number 800017 before bottling by Adelphi.  More info

Bowmore 12 Year Old 1998 (Adelphi)

Bruichladdich 15 Year Old (Alchemist)

70cl, 46%
Bruichladdich

A 15 year old from Scotland's most innovative distillery, Bruichladdich. This was bottled for the new range from Alchemist.  More info

Bruichladdich 15 Year Old (Alchemist)

Bruichladdich Octomore 03.1

70cl, 59%
Bruichladdich

A non wine finished Octomore, this was peated to 152 ppm and aged for 5 years. This is the peatiest Octomore yet!  More info

Bruichladdich Octomore 03.1

Laphroaig 13 Year Old 1997 (Murray McDavid)

70cl, 46%
Laphroaig

This was distilled at Laphroaig in 1997, and it was initially matured in bourbon barrels. Murray McDavid then selected it, and took it to Bruichladdich, where it was reracked into incredible Chateau…  More info

Laphroaig 13 Year Old 1997 (Murray McDavid)

Caol Ila 13 Year Old 1996 - Chieftain's Choice (Ian MacLeod)

70cl, 43%
Caol Ila

A 13 year old Caol Ila, distilled in October 1996 and aged in casks 91971 and 91974, this was given a finish in Sauternes dessert wine casks before bottling in March 2010. One of just a handful of…  More info

Caol Ila 13 Year Old 1996 - Chieftain's Choice (Ian MacLeod)

Bunnahabhain 13 Year Old 1997 Heavily Peated Casks 5583 & 5584 - Cask Strength Collection (Signatory)

70cl, 52.90%
Bunnahabhain

This cask strength, heavily peated Bunnahabhain was distilled on the 11th December 1997, and it was aged for 13 years in two hogsheads before bottling on the 16 May 2011. A release of 594 bottles.  More info

Bunnahabhain 13 Year Old 1997 Heavily Peated Casks 5583 & 5584 - Cask Strength Collection (Signatory)
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$51.17

Serendipity 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Ardbeg

Once upon a time at the Glenmorangie bottling plant, very well-aged Ardbeg was accidentally mixed with some young Glen Moray, oops! The result is this rare bottle with a great story behind it, the…  More info

Serendipity 12 Year Old

Laphroaig 11 Year Old 1999 - Un-Chillfiltered (Signatory)

70cl, 46%
Laphroaig

This was distilled at Laphroaig on the 1st July 1999. It was aged in two hogsheads for 11 years before bottling on the 2nd June 2011. A release of 715 bottles.  More info

Laphroaig 11 Year Old 1999 - Un-Chillfiltered (Signatory)

Bunnahabhain 1979 (Berry Bros. & Rudd)

70cl, 54.70%
Bunnahabhain

A fabulously rich, darkly hued sherry cask Bunnahabhain, distilled in 1979 and aged in cask 1795 before bottling by Berry Brothers and Rudd in 2011.  More info

Bunnahabhain 1979 (Berry Bros. & Rudd)
$170.71

Ar2 - Elements of Islay (Ardbeg)

50cl, 60.50%
Ardbeg

This is the second batch of Elements of Islay bottled Ar (who knows which Islay distillery Ar could refer to?!) Serge from WhiskyFun.com awarded this 90 points! This is a cask strength single malt,…  More info

Ar2 - Elements of Islay (Ardbeg)

Lagavulin 1994 (bottled 2010) Pedro Ximénez Cask Finish - Distillers Edition

70cl, 43%
Lagavulin

Perhaps the best of all the Diageo Distillers Edition whiskies (a selection of their classic malts that are finished in wine casks). This delicious 1994 vintage Lagavulin was finished in Pedro…  More info

Lagavulin 1994 (bottled 2010) Pedro Ximénez Cask Finish - Distillers Edition
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Bowmore 1998 - The Coopers Choice (The Vintage Malt Whisky Co.)

70cl, 46%
Bowmore

From the Bowmore distillery, smack bang in the middle of Islay. This single cask whisky was bottled for the Coopers Choice range.  More info

Bowmore 1998 - The Coopers Choice (The Vintage Malt Whisky Co.)

Caol Ila 8 Year Old Unpeated (Bottled 2007)

70cl, 64.90%
Caol Ila

An unpeated variant of Caol Ila, this is aged for 8 years, and bottled at a staggering 64.9% abv!  More info

Caol Ila 8 Year Old Unpeated (Bottled 2007)

Boisdale 1998 Islay (Berry Bros. & Rudd)

70cl, 46%
Laphroaig

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

Boisdale 1998 Islay (Berry Bros. & Rudd)
$64.60

Bunnahabhain 9 Year Old 2000 (Adelphi) 10cl

10cl, 59.20%
Bunnahabhain

A single cask, packaged in a rather unusual looking sample bottle. This was distilled at Bunnahabhain in 2000, matured for 9 years in cask number 947, and bottled in 2010 by Adelphi at cask strength.…  More info

Bunnahabhain 9 Year Old 2000 (Adelphi) 10cl

Bowmore 8 Year Old 2001 (Adelphi)

70cl, 59.90%
Bowmore

A release of 583 bottles of cask strength 8 year old Bowmore, bottled by Adelphi. This was distilled in 2001, and matured in cask number 1126 - a refill butt.  More info

Bowmore 8 Year Old 2001 (Adelphi)

Bunnahabhain 36 Year Old 1974 - Old and Rare Platinum (Douglas Laing)

70cl, 58%
Bunnahabhain

36 Year Old Bunnahabhain distilled in 1974. Early 70's Bunnahabhains are becoming something of a rarity, and releases from independent bottlers will grow more and more scarce over the coming years.…  More info

Bunnahabhain 36 Year Old 1974 - Old and Rare Platinum (Douglas Laing)

Laphroaig 15 Year Old

70cl, 43%
Laphroaig

A now discontinued bottling, this was replaced this year by the 18 year old. The old 15 is becoming rather rare, definitely an investment dram.  More info

Laphroaig 15 Year Old
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Bowmore 8 Year Old 1998 - Provenance (Douglas Laing)

70cl, 46%
Bowmore

An 8 year old Bowmore distilled in Winter 1998. This was aged for 8 years, and it was finished in a Gabriel Meffre Rhone Valley wine cask (number 3895) before bottling in Autumn of 2007.  More info

Bowmore 8 Year Old 1998 - Provenance (Douglas Laing)
$34.98

Port Ellen 27 Year Old 1983 Cask 517 - Cask Strength Collection (Signatory)

70cl, 59%
Port Ellen

A fabulous cask strength Port Ellen aged in a single refill butt (cask 517) for a whopping 27 years. Bottling on the 28th September 2010 by Signatory. A release of 608 bottles.  More info

Port Ellen 27 Year Old 1983 Cask 517 - Cask Strength Collection (Signatory)

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