Regarded by many as 'whisky island', Islay (pronounced eye-luh) lies in the Inner Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland. It might be just 25 miles long and 15 miles wide, but Islay punches well above its weight for producing single malt Scotch whisky. There are nine whisky distilleries on the island, including the most recently opened Ardnahoe Distillery. Bowmore is said to be one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland, dating back to 1779.
Most of Islay's original distilleries - some long since lost to history - started as farm distilleries and retreated to secluded glens and caves during the 17th century when the excise man came calling. You'll find distillery staff much more welcoming these days and it's well worth taking a tour around all of Islay's whisky distilleries.
Islay whiskies in a nutshell
- Number of distilleries: 9
- Oldest distillery: Bowmore (1779)
- Most popular distillery: Ardbeg
- Flavour profile: powerful, peaty, smoky, sweet, salty