The small Island of Islay set on Scotlands west coast is often described as the cradle of whisky distilling in the country. Whilst the islands natural beauty is undeniable, it is the eight revered distilleries found here that draw whisky lovers from around the world to its shores. The frequently smoky, intense whisky produced here is certainly some of the most characterful and challenging distilled anywhere in the world but there is a great deal more to the iconic Islay distilleries than simple smoke and peat.
The island remains home to some particularly traditional whiskies but is certainly no stranger to variety and experimentation. Names like Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Lagavulin are inextricably associated with the classic Islay flavours of dense, often medicinal peat smoke and brine, but each offers a great deal of individual complexity regardless of cask choice and age. At the other end of the spectrum you find Bruichladdich and Bunnahabhain, both of which are minimally peated and show considerable subtlety and elegance.