Islay, “Queen of the Hebrides” is the most southerly and one of the most beautiful of the Hebridean Islands. It is a naturalist and bird watcher’s paradise with 250 species of birds recorded including eagles, hen harriers and choughs. There are miles of golden sandy beaches to picnic on , loch and river fishing, pony trekking, surfing, diving, or the challenge of the 18 hole golf course at Machrie. Bowmore , with its unique round church (left) and local shops is set at
the head of Loch Indaal in the centre of Islay. But it is the seven Whisky Distilleries which attract many visitors to the Island!!
The Isle of Islay malts stand out as a very distinctive group, set apart from other Scotch Whiskies through the sheer concentration of distilleries on this breath-taking beautiful, relaxing but invigorating hebridean island. From the very being of Islay comes the whiskies’ distinctive characters, by way of the plentiful natural resources of peat, water and of course, the people. The distilleries are open to the public and at the end of each tour you are given a tasting of their product:-
Coal ila, founded in 1846, is situated in a sheltered cove close to Port Askaig and
overlooks the Sound Of Islay to the majestic Island of Jura.
Bunnahabhain lies on a picturesque, secluded bay at the north of the island. It is the home to the famous Black Bottle, blended Scotch Whisky which contains seven of the Islay Malts.
Bruichladdich, Scotch whisky’s most westerly distillery, stands squarely on the shore line of Loch Indaall as it has since 1881.
Bowmore distillery, the oldest on Islay, has stood on the shores of Loch Indaal, since
1779. Bowmore is one of an ever decreasing handful of distilleries to produce its own
floor malted barley. The barley is still turned , by the Maltman, using the traditional wooden malt shovels.
Ardbeg is situated on the south east coast of the Island of Islay, in an isolated area of great natural beauty. Established in 1815, Ardbeg was previously a noted haunt for whisky smugglers and distilling of the illegal variety. Now recently acquired by Glenmorangie PLC (March 1997) this unique Islay Malt will once again be widely available as a single malt.
Lagavulin the spiritual home of White Horse Scotch Whisky, is situated on the main road 3 miles east of Port Ellen. Lagavulin Bay, once the haunt of smugglers, is commanded by the ruins of Dunyveg Castle, once the stronghold of the Lord of the Isles.
Laphroaig’s stunning location is best described by the name itself meaning “he beautiful hollow by the broad bay” in Gaelic, an ideal setting in completely unspoiled surroundings on the south eastern shores of the island of Islay. In the making of Laphroaig, malted barley is dried over a peat fire which gives Laphroaig its particular rich and distinctive flavour. Often described as the ultimate in malt whisky.
Do go to Islay and taste the mouth watering Whisky. Get the Ferry from Kennacraig for the two and a half hour sail from the mainland on the Mull of Kintyre. It really is worth the effort!!