The Distilleries of Islay are a thing of legend around the globe. Famed for its distilling history, Islay once boasted a staggering 23 active distilleries on its shores. The art of distilling began as early the fourteenth century on Islay. A geographical location which is ideal for perfecting whisky, Islay has a rich history in producing the stuff. Take a look at five of the top active distilleries populating Islay today.
Located on the Southside of the island, the Ardbeg distillery is a popular tour on the agenda of visiting tourists. Having recently celebrated their 200-year anniversary, Ardbeg specialises in heavily peated whisky. Ardbeg produces 160 barrels per week, totalling 40,000 bottles every seven days. To reach this volume the distillers work continuously 24 hours a day for 6 and a half days of the week. They also host the infamous Klin Café which uses the Ardbeg produce in a few of its dishes.
The Bowmore distillery is located in the capital of the island. The whisky boasts characteristics of smoke, salt and seaweed in its single malts. Take a tour of Bowmore distillery and you will experience the oldest distilling warehouse in Scotland. The tasting is another experience not to be missed as you enjoy can enjoy a dram overlooking the Loch Indaal. Be sure to visit the gift shop as well which plays home to their most expensive bottle priced at £100,000.
Over on the north of the island, the Bunnahabhain distillery has been around since 1880. The Bunnahabhain is home to some of the milder single malts found on Islay. The distillery hosts the tallest stills on the island. Many whisky drinkers are fooled by the Dram’s smooth, sweet and spicy qualities which differ from most of the whisky found on the shores of Islay.
Situated on the south coastline of Islay, Lagavulin dates back to 1742. The distillery produces peaty whisky with rich iodine qualities. All the barley used in the process is malted in Port Ellen on the island. A relaxed experience, visitors of the distillery can enjoy the standard Lagavulin single 16-year-old single malt.
The newest distillery on the island, Kilchoman is also the smallest. Opened in 2005, the distillery may lack experience in years but is not shy on quality. Walking distance from Islay’s most scenic beach, Kilchoman has an intimate charm. They are committed to keeping things on the smaller scale focusing on quality over quantity, promising produce no more than 200,000 litres per year.