Islay Whisky | The History Of Islay And Its Whisky
Islay has come to be known as one of the foremost areas of Scotland producing great single malts and classic whiskies. Each Islay whisky has its own personality. This personality is built upon the years of heritage that the island has built upon. It is often quite easy to tell an Islay whisky from other whiskies, although not always.
If you would like to learn more about how Islay has become so iconic in the whisky-producing markets, and how Islay whisky has come to be known by particular flavours then this article is for you.
Islay Whisky Heritage
The island is just off the Argyll coast to the west of Scotland. It is one of the southernmost islands of the Inner Hebrides and has come to be known as the ‘Queen of the Hebrides’.
The island is one of only five localities in Scotland whose whisky distilling identity is protected by law under The Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009.
The island has come through many stages of whisky distilling, from the rumoured monks introducing distillation to Islay in the early 1300s to illegal distillation during Prohibition eras. Many distilleries have come and gone, particularly those that were hidden from the Excise.
Nowadays there are about 10 operating distilleries on the island. This is a huge figure considering the entire population is only just over 3,000.
Islay Whisky Characteristics
The whiskies themselves have a bold and recognisable flavour for the most part. The island has rolling peat bogs which are exposed to sea spray and rain. The peat that is then used to flavour the whisky is strong and smoky. Some of the smokiest Islay single malts are from Laphroaig, Ardbeg or Lagavulin.
Although this is the classic flavouring of Islay whisky, some do not follow the same rules. Bunnahabhain, for example, produces a more fruity whisky which is only lightly peated.
Many brands of Islay whisky have gained cult status from their fame and iconic smoky flavours and aromas.
Finding Rare Islay Single Malts
With Islay having so many classic distilleries, it is guaranteed that there will be many old and rare bottlings still in circulation. If you want to start your collection, or just see what is on offer, The Rare Malt Whisky Company have a great selection. All rare whiskies, the Islay selection that they have is impeccable. Well worth a look.