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Islay features a character atypical of the region. A crisp apple flavour is balanced with an earthy seaweed and smoke flavour. Swilling Islay whiskey around your palate you’ll notice a hint of kippers and brine – flavours indicative of the region. Islay whiskies are known for their contrasting, yet fruitier flavour that lingers.
Islay is renowned for its diversity of spirit. This ambiance is distinct in the single malt scotch whiskey. Peat is the primary source of fuel on the island of Islay. Taking a mere sip of Islay whiskey you immediately get a taste of the distinct flavour and rich heritage of the region.
Historical accounts of how distillation reached Scotland from Ireland is debated, however many historians believe that Scotland’s distillation was achieved via Islay in the 13th century when the Lord of the Isles married the daughter of an Ulster baron.
It’s believed that Irish monks first introduced Islay to distillation. The local environment, rich in peat, lochs and rivers with soft, pure water gave the whiskey produced in Islay one of the most distinct tastes in the UK.
Distilling was completed in shebeen until the introduction of the Excise Act in 1644 that levied a tax on whiskey. This forced distillers to retreat to remote glens and caves to avoid detection, even though, according to historical records, the first tax collector did not set foot on the island until 1797.
Islay is home to a wonderfully diverse selection of distilleries. Ardbeg was officially established in 1815 before famously being mothballed in 1982 before being restored to full production in the 1990’s.
Whiskey producers on the southern coast have come to epitomise the popular image of the single malt whiskey: maritime peat smoke in different styles. Travel north and you’ll eventually reach Bunnahabhain on the shore facing Jura and Bruichladdich which are typically unpeated, yet richly smoky whiskies.