For over 200 years, Ardbeg has been made on the small, remote Scottish Isle of Islay. Ardbeg has been called “as close to perfection as makes no difference,” by whisky connoisseurs.
A round trip from Lach Mhara is roughly 10 miles (5 miles to Ardbeg), from Port Ellen there is coastal path via Laphroaig and Lagavulin.
Situated at the picturesque Lagavulin Bay, this is an experience not to be missed. Take a tour of the distillery, see the distillers at work and view the unusual pear shaped stills. Peated malt, slow distillation and long maturation together ensure Lagavulin develops a complex, rich, peaty character. Lagavulin is a spirit which likes to take its time.
Lagavulin is one of the three Islay distilleries owned by Diageo (including Caol Ila and Port Ellen)
Laphroaig’s whisky making tradition has been passed down by distillery managers since the first drop rolled off the still in 1815. Each brought their own influence, of course, but all respected the unique elements that make Laphroaig the whisky it is. The Kilbride Stream, hand-cut peat, floor malted barley, cold-smoking kilns, mash tuns, copper alchemy and the subtlety of oak aging. Each and every stage crucial in producing the most richly flavored of all Scotch whiskies.
Port Ellen Distillery was founded around 1825. The distilling plant was silent from 1983 although the maltings and warehouses continued operating. The distillery is currently being refurbished to be reopened in 2020.
Bowmore is Islay’s oldest distillery, and home to the world’s oldest whisky maturation warehouse, the No. 1 Vaults. It’s in this legendary warehouse that Bowmore whisky has been meticulously matured by their master distillers for nearly 240 years.
Conceived, distilled, matured & bottled only on Islay, using 100% scottish barley. Bruichladdich distillery is located on the southwestern tip of the remote hebridean island of Islay where they distil four unique spirits, Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte and Octomore single malt whiskies and The Botanist Islay dry gin.
Port Charlotte & Octomore
Bruichladdich are rooted in the culture and community of Islay. Of the ten distilleries on the island they’re the second smallest, yet are its largest private employer; eighty of their one hundred strong team are based here. This means something.
Bruichladdich believe to be called an Islay malt brings with it responsibilities – responsibilities to the community and to future generations. This is not a mythical land of legend and tradition; Islay is vibrant, dynamic, young and passionate. Port Charlotte single malt is conceived, distilled, matured and bottled only on Islay.
Clinging to the hill high above Port Charlotte on the Rhinns of Islay is the enigma that is Octomore Farm, for Octomore too once housed a distillery. Even older than the beautiful village it overlooks, Octomore is a throwback to the days of fierce independence, when self sufficiency was the only option, and the legality of distillation itself still a revolutionary concept. Octomore is the world’s most heavily peated single malt!
Kilchoman was the first distillery to be built on Islay in over 124 years. The distillery was founded in 2005 by Anthony Wills and is Islay’s only farm distillery, producing Single Farm Single Malt. Kilchoman is one of the few whisky distilleries in Scotland to remain independent. Over a decade into his journey, Kilchoman’s 100% Islay range remains the only Islay single malt produced completely on site, from barley to bottle.
Caol Ila is the principal source of whisky distilled for use in the production of Jonnie Walker. Only 10% of the distilleries whisky is used in its single malt. Caol Ila is a great whisky, IMO the 12y.o. is their best expression, a hard peaty punch. The 18y.o. is more refined but loses some of the raw power of its younger brethren.
Pronounced ‘cull-eela’, the distillery is situated on the North Eastern shores of Islay with magnificent views across the Sound of Islay to the spectacular Paps of Jura. In 1846, Glasgow distillery owner Hector Henderson picked a little bay on the Sound of Islay for his distillery site. He named it for the sound itself, using the Gaelic Caol Ila, and it was across this sound the little puffer ships made their round trips to the mainland – slowly helping to establish the distillery as the biggest on Islay.
The long-held dream of one Scottish family, Ardnahoe will be the ninth distillery on the famous Isle of Islay when it opens in late summer 2018. With a production capacity of just 500,000 litres of alcohol per annum, Ardnahoe will distill a classic peated style of Islay malt, using the finest barley and water from the depths of Loch Ardnahoe itself.
Employing wooden washbacks, Scottish-made stills, traditional worm-tub condensers and the knowledge of one of the whisky industry’s most experienced Master Distillers, Ardnahoe will strive to create one of the most enchanting spirits to come out of the renowned Whisky Isle.
Our beloved Bunnahabhain — which means ‘mouth of the river’ in Gaelic, as it stands at the mouth of the Margadale Spring on the shores of the Sound of Islay — first came into existence in 1883. However its origins can be traced back four years earlier when, in 1879, William Robertson of Robertson and Baxter Blending House, joined with the Greenlees Brothers to create the Islay Distillery Company. And so, with the distillery built on a site close to the Margadale River, in 1883 Bunnahabhain was borne.
In the early years, the distillery relied upon the sea trade. Armed only with a small village, a pier and lots of whisky making know-how, our forefathers received supplies by boat and sent adventuring seafarers back to the mainland along the Sound of Islay with casks of the ‘good stuff’. It’s this daring spirit and coastal living which has made Bunnahabhain what it is today, and which continues to play an important role in the production of the ever increasing range of Bunnahabhain Single Malts.
Bunnahabhain produce a range of malts, from unseated to plated. Their principal brand is lightly peated however, and offers a floral elegance and unique take on an Islay malt.