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We Heart Islay. We really do love Islay!!

A whiff of peat reek in the air I hear you say? Must be The Whisky Lounge’s “We Heart Islay” upcoming tastings! Indeed that time is once again upon us. Furtive noises in the dim dark vaults here at TWL-HQ are sure signs of a breach in security. The Islay-philes amongst the team mount sorties to liberate rare and unique drams for your tasting delight!

Islay, a study in contrasts. Idyllic rural island retreat nestled off the West coast of Scotland. With roads that could kill even TWL’s hardy Land Rover Defender and swarms of bugs that thirst for blood. Home to some of the biggest boldest Whiskies available. The dependence upon peat for use in the malting process gives many Islay whiskies their distinctive personalities. Don’t be fooled, not all Islay whiskies are heavily peated, some aren’t peated at all. Typified by bold peat smoke and medicinal iodine characteristics, Islay whiskies have a devoted following.

For those that love them, they are often the pinnacle of the whisky world. For those that don’t, well like Marmite you either love it or hate it! So take heed, Islay is not for the feint of heart!

We will be showcasing a wide assortment of everything Islay’s distilleries have to offer during our “We Heart Islay” whisky tastings. I hear rumours that bottlings from previous Feis Ile festivals may have been raided from the archives. Only one way to find out for sure. Grab a ticket while they’re available!!

Here’s a brief run down of Islay’s distilleries… Unfortunately we shalln’t be visiting each on this tasting but we have to leave something for next time.

Kilchoman, Islay’s most recent addition is a wonderful farm distillery, including one of Scotlands only remaining floor maltings.

Bruichladdich, off the wall and non-conformist Hebridean distillers with both peated and un-peated offerings.

Ardbeg, with a devoted international following, thanks to a hugely successful turnaround since falling foul to criminal mismanagement during the early eighties.

Bowmore, situated in Islay’s capital settlement, is one of Scotland’s and certainly the island’s oldest distilleries.

Lagavulin, an Islay classic, increasingly popular and only getting more so. Demand leads to sporadic shortages of their signature sixteen-year-old bottling.

Laphroaig, one of the best selling of all Islay malts and championed by HRH The Prince of Wales as his favourite dram (apparently the old fifteen-year-old in particular). Laphroaig shares a murky and sordid history with its neighbour Lagavulin. These along with Ardbeg, form a trio of Kildalton distilleries producing the peatiest of whiskies.

Caol Ila, the largest of the eight Islay distilleries has only relatively recently come to widespread attention. Distinctive, approachable and seductive I can honestly say this is one of my personal favourites. Alas, I have as yet never visited the distillery.

Bunnahabhain, possibly the least well known of Islay’s malts but much-loved by those in the know. Light peat and a notable oiliness are defining characteristics.


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