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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.

Bunnahabhain 11 Year Old 1997 (Adelphi)

35cl, 58.6%
Bunnahabhain

Beautifully packaged, cask strength Bunnahabhain - an Islay distillery known for its fruity nature, and gentle peat. This was distilled in 1997 and matured for 11 years before bottling in 2009 by…  More info

Bunnahabhain 11 Year Old 1997 (Adelphi)

Port Ellen 30 Year Old 1979 - Old and Rare Platinum (Douglas Laing)

70cl, 53.3%
Port Ellen

An amazing single cask Port Ellen, the legendary defunct Islay distillery. This was distilled in November 1979 and aged for a massive 30 years before bottling by Douglas Laing in August 2010. A…  More info

Port Ellen 30 Year Old 1979 - Old and Rare Platinum (Douglas Laing)
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Laphroaig 12 Year Old 1997 - Rare Auld (Duncan Taylor)

70cl, 54.9%
Laphroaig

A single cask Laphroaig, bottled by Duncan Taylor for the Rare Auld series at cask strength in February 2010. This was distilled in July 1997 and matured in cask number 56375. Part of a release of…  More info

Laphroaig 12 Year Old 1997 - Rare Auld (Duncan Taylor)

Bruichladdich 10 Year Old (1990s Bottling)

70cl, 40%
Bruichladdich

An old 10 year old Bruichladdich from before the recent spate of dumpy bottles. This is rare stuff, bottled during the 1990s.  More info

Bruichladdich 10 Year Old (1990s Bottling)

Port Ellen 22 Year Old 1978 - Rare Malts

70cl, 60.5%
Port Ellen

A cask strength, very rare Port Ellen. This was distilled in 1978 and matured for 22 years before bottling as part of the Rare Malts range.  More info

Port Ellen 22 Year Old 1978 - Rare Malts

Ardbeg 1975

70cl, 43%
Ardbeg

Michael Jackson (whisky writer, not moonwalker) scored this 1975 Ardbeg with a 9 out of 10. An earthy, peppery, citrussy Ardbeg.  More info

Ardbeg 1975
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Port Ellen 30 Year Old 1979 - Old Malt Cask Commemorative (Douglas Laing)

70cl, 55.6%
Port Ellen

A rare 30 year old bottling from the Douglas Laing 'Old Malt Cask' range.  More info

Port Ellen 30 Year Old 1979 - Old Malt Cask Commemorative (Douglas Laing)

Ardbeg 1978

70cl, 43%
Ardbeg

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

Ardbeg 1978
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Laphroaig 30 Year Old (43%)

70cl, 43%
Laphroaig

A recent 30 year old release, this is very well-aged by Laphroaig standards. This is rich and powerful, age has brought balance. This won Gold medals at the International Spirits Challenge and the…  More info

Laphroaig 30 Year Old (43%)
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Laphroaig 27 Year Old Oloroso Cask (2007 Release)

70cl, 51%
Laphroaig

Part of a release of just 972 bottles from Laphroaig. This 27 year old was distilled in 1980 and aged in 5 casks used previously to hold Oloroso sherry.  More info

Laphroaig 27 Year Old Oloroso Cask (2007 Release)

Caol Ila 25 Year Old 1978

70cl, 59%
Caol Ila

The oldest official bottling from the Caol Ila distillery, this 25 year old Islay single malt was released as one of just 6,000 bottles, distilled in 1978 and bottled in 2003 at cask strength.  More info

Caol Ila 25 Year Old 1978

Celtic Nations from Bruichladdich and Cooley

70cl, 46%
Bruichladdich

A vatting from Bruichladdich featuring both Irish and Scotch whisk(e)y, this features both Cooley whiskey and Bruichladdich single malt.  More info

Celtic Nations from Bruichladdich and Cooley

Bruichladdich 1984 Redder Still (22 Year Old)

70cl, 50.4%
Bruichladdich

This bottling from Bruichladdich has been so-named 'redder still' for its scarlet hue, this single malt is a limited release of just 4,080 bottles, distilled in 1984, it has attained its colour from…  More info

Bruichladdich 1984 Redder Still (22 Year Old)

Bruichladdich 20 Year Old ‘Flirtation’ (2nd Edition)

70cl, 46%
Bruichladdich

Mourvèdre is a strong, rich red grape, grown all over the world. This is a specially finished 20 year old from Bruichladdich.  More info

Bruichladdich 20 Year Old ‘Flirtation’ (2nd Edition)
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Bruichladdich 1998 Manzanilla Sherry Cask Matured

70cl, 46%
Bruichladdich

Just 6,000 bottle of this single malt were released. This was distilled in 1998 and matured for 10 years in Manzanilla dry sherry casks and the label features a rather dramatic 'Picasso esque' print…  More info

Bruichladdich 1998 Manzanilla Sherry Cask Matured

Bruichladdich Infinity (2nd Release)

70cl, 52.5%
Bruichladdich

The second edition of the Infinity bottling from Bruichladdich, this one boasts a slightly higher peating level and has been matured in Bourbon casks before being finished in Rioja casks.  More info

Bruichladdich Infinity (2nd Release)
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Bowmore 16 Year Old 1990 Sherry Matured

70cl, 53.8%
Bowmore

A 1990 vintage from the Bowmore distillery, bottled at cask strength, this 16 year old was matured in Oloroso sherry casks and the sherry notes really shine through with enough strength to match up…  More info

Bowmore 16 Year Old 1990 Sherry Matured

Bowmore 37 Year Old 1968

70cl, 43.4%
Bowmore

A 37 year old offering from Bowmore, matured in ex-bourbon casks and presents a rare bottling from an outturn of just 708 bottles. A spicy, oily, slightly vegetal whisky of excellent depth.  More info

Bowmore 37 Year Old 1968

Bowmore Black Bowmore 42 Year Old 1964

70cl, 40.5%
Bowmore

A very rare 42 year old from the Islay distillery, Bowmore. This single malt has been matured in Oloroso sherry casks and is part of a limited release of just 827 bottles. A legendary dram.  More info

Bowmore Black Bowmore 42 Year Old 1964
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Bruichladdich 1970 (32 Year Old)

70cl, 44%
Bruichladdich

A 32 year old bottling from the Bruichladdich distillery, this single malt was distilled in 1970 and has been solely matured in first fill American hogsheads and exudes some lovely ripe orchard fruit…  More info

Bruichladdich 1970 (32 Year Old)

Bruichladdich 15 Year Old (1st Release)

70cl, 46%
Bruichladdich

Matured largely in American oak, with a little Spanish oak. An increasingly rare first edition, the 15 year old is a great, fresh, lightly-peated offering from Bruichladdich.  More info

Bruichladdich 15 Year Old (1st Release)

Laphroaig 25 Year Old (45.1%)

70cl, 45.1%
Laphroaig

The 25 year old Laphroaig, released in 2007. This is a surprisingly mellow dram from the distillery.  More info

Laphroaig 25 Year Old (45.1%)

Bruichladdich 14 Year Old - Links Series K Club

70cl, 46%
Bruichladdich

Part of a release of casks selected by Jim McEwan, the master distiller, the label on this 14 year old features a painting of K Club by the famous gold artist, Graeme W. Baxter.  More info

Bruichladdich 14 Year Old - Links Series K Club

Bruichladdich 14 Year Old 1991 - WMD 11 The Yellow Submarine

70cl, 46%
Bruichladdich

This bottling was named for a yellow mini-submarine that was discovered just miles from the distillery, the vessel was clearing mines left from World War Two when a local fisherman discovered it. A…  More info

Bruichladdich 14 Year Old 1991 - WMD 11 The Yellow Submarine
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Caol Ila 1991 (Signatory)

35cl, 43%
Caol Ila

A rare half bottle of Caol Ila from Signatory, these are rather hard to come by.  More info

Caol Ila 1991 (Signatory)

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