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All the classic blended Scotch whiskies contains a proportion of Islay malt whisky, it is regarded as absolutely necessary to add that "bite". The White Horse blend and its Lagavulin malt being the most famous.
Islay in the past had 23 Legal distilleries, plus many more smugglers bothies, at the turn of the century (2000) the count was only 7 distilleries remaining, providing one of Scotch whiskies most prominent tastes. However the addition of the Kilchoman farm distillery is now in production
The southshore distilleries of Ardbeg Lagavulin and Laphroaig with Caol ila produce the power palate whiskies associated with Islay.
Bowmore Bruichladdich and Bunnahabhain are milder with less peat reek than the others and are the ideal introduction to the Islay Single Malt whisky.
Ardbeg Single Malt Scotch Whisky Distillery
One of the original Kildalton distillleries.Situated on the southshore coast of the Island, The present distillery was built on the site of an earlier distillery in 1815 by Alexander McDougall.
The water supply comes from Loch Arinambeast and Uigedale.
This is one of the heavy peated malts from the island.
Bowmore Single Malt Scotch Whisky Distillery.
Founded in 1779 by John Simpson and so has claim to being the oldest "legal" distillery on the island.
Located on the east shore of Loch Indaal facing Bruichladdich across the bay the distillery is kept in immaculate condition by its owners Morrison Bowmore (Suntory)
Bowmore is a complex dram with slight smoke and is sweetly aromatic this positions Bowmore taste wise nicely between the gentler Bunnahabhain In the north and the Southshore distilleries of Ardbeg Lagavulin and Laphroaig.
Bruichladdich Scotch Whisky Distillery
This distillery is on the beautiful western shore of Loch Indaal. Production started in 1881 by the Harvey brothers
Distilled on Victorian machinery for purity. Unpeated barley gives the floral character. Tall, narrow-necked stills provide a medicine-free, medium weight body. American oak casks introduce vanilla notes. Naturally bottled for maximum flavour and rich texture. Recently released peated versions provide the smoke.
Bunnahabhain Scotch Whisky Distillery.
The distillery is the most northerly distillery on the island, facing The Isle of Jura across the Sound of Islay.
Regarded as the lightest of the Islay whiskies. This may be due to the fact that the water used is drawn from a underground spring before it has run through the peat, also the narrowness of the cut taken from the second distillation.
A Key ingredient of Black Bottle blend, the malt its self is known for being virtually unpeated, which is unexpected of an Islay, but retains that salty tang of the sea making an Ideal introduction to the Islay region.
Caol Ila Single Malt Scotch Whisky Distillery
Just North of the ferry terminal at Port Askaig, lies the Caol Ila Distillery founded by Hector Henderson in 1846.
Regarded as a full bodied, pungent, delightfully smoky whisky has long been a favourite amongst blenders. Caol ila malts are used in Bells and Johnnie Walker Swing.
Kilchoman Single Malt Scotch Whisky Distillery
Kilchoman (pronounced kilhoman) is a farm scale distillery and the first to be built on Islay for 124 years. Kilchoman gives everyone the opportunity to see all that is best in the grass-roots traditions of whisky production - from barley to bottling.
Lagavulin Single Malt Scotch Whisky Distillery
The distillery, Like all those on Islay were built on the shoreline to make possible the easier receipt of supplies and dispatch of whisky in small coastal vessels. Situated on the southshore line of the island between Ardbeg and Laphroaig.
A distinctively Islay malt, powerful and demanding, complex with a dominant aroma of sea salt, peat and sherry. Palate: A dry smoky flavour with oily grassy notes complimented by a trace of sherry sweetness.
Laphroaig Single Malt Scotch Whisky Distillery
Lying just west of Lagavulin on the southshore. The Laphroaig distillery was started in 1815 by The Johnson family.
In 1847 the Founder died after falling into a vat of whisky.
With tasting notes of medicinal, TCP mouthwash, phenolic. Iodine-like, seaweedy, tar smoke and peat with a hint of estery sweetness. This is an Islay whisky at industrial strength. Even if the tasting notes are for Diesel This malt whisky is one of the best five sellers in the UK.
Port Charlotte Scotch Whisky Distillery
Bruichladdich distillery plans to rebuild the Port Charlotte Distillery. in the village of Port Charlotte, 2 miles from Bruichladdich. This was the site of the Lochindaal Distillery built in 1829 where it dominated the village for a hundred years before closing in 1929 due to the down turn in world markets aggravated by American Prohibition.
Port Ellen Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Located 1 mile west of Laphroig the distillery was founded in 1825. But was closed down in the 1930 slump in trade. It was reopened in 1967 by DCL (present Owners) until being mothballed in the great Whisky cull of 1983.
Port Ellen has been closed for 23 years so bottlings of this rare and Iconic Islay malt are becoming very short in supply.
Lightly phenolic, peat smoke with iodine, Gentler than the other 3 southshore distilleries. Complex, oily, peppery, salty, herbal, medicinal, clean and firm.