Whisky's of Islay Article






     Of Scotland's diverse whisky producing regions, Islay has to be one of the more revered, certainly one of the more mysterious. It has a brazen, dramatic terroir. The island is left to the elements and the sea, which lashes the coast. Peat smoke rises from the barley kilns and limestone rich soils lend their minerality to the water. Islay has a vastly ranging topography.

Islay is a true holy ground for many whisky drinkers; it is a legendary isle, known for its peaty whiskies. The southern coast is host to a trio of distilleries which surround the now silent Port Ellen distillery: Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg are all makers of thunderous, peat smoke-laden drams. But Islay has more to offer than just peaty whiskies. And we shall start our brief tour of Islay at the north-eastern tip, where the Bunnahabhain (pronounced boon-a-havn) distillery lies. It was founded in 1881, and sits in the village of the same name. The Bunnahabhain distillery is known its fruity, gentle whiskies. Their classic, entry level 12 Year Old is a superb example of this with a fresh, fruity nose, a little touch of the coast leading into a gently sherried palate with thick malt, sultanas and maritime notes.

Caol Ila lies not far from the Bunnahabhain distillery, near Port Askaig. Caol Ila was founded in 1846 by the enjoyably-named Hector Henderson. The distillery sits in a cove overlooking the Paps of Southern Jura. Its whiskies are known for their characteristic oily smoke and balanced sweetness. Their 18 year old is a superb example. It has a dark, slightly herbal nose with cut hay and malt. The palate is full with a gentle sweetness lurking with oily peat smoke. It is a superb single malt.

Bruichladdich is a distillery known for its fruity whiskies. It is an innovative distillery, often finishing its whiskies in exotic casks. One example is the second release of their classic 12 Year Old. The nose is malty and juicy with ripe fruits and barley, leading into a sweet, cereal rich palate with plenty of fruit and a long finish.

The Bowmore distillery sits near the centre of Islay, at its namesake town ? Islay's capital. Bowmore is not just geographically equidistant between the northern distilleries and the south coast, but also sits in the middle in terms of the flavour of its whiskies, which, although smoky, are not as heavily peated as those from the southern coast, nor as gentle as those from the north of the isle. Their 18 Year Old expression is a classic from the distillery, a dark, fruity nose with coastal wood and smoke. The palate is fruity and thick with plummy notes and plumes of peat.

It is at the southern coast of Islay that the utterly distinctive peaty single malts. Whiskies produced at the southern coast are known for their peat smoke and power. Laphroaig has a coastal character and medicinal/iodine flavours from the high moss content in the peat. Laphroaig is one of the top-selling distilleries in the world, and their Quarter Cask expression is a delicious example. It has a charred, tarry notes with plenty of sweetness and peat. The palate is thick and syrupy with gooey honey from the offing, followed in quick succession by an explosion of tingling peat smoke. The finish is long and medicinal.

The Laphroaig distillery sits not far from Lagavulin. It is believed that Johnny Depp is a fan of Lagavulin, though as he is teetotal he does not drink it, he simply noses it. After all, Lagavulin single malts have a superb aroma. The 12 Year Old is a classic whisky from the distillery, at cask strength is has a crisp, fresh nose with beautiful peat smoke, medicinal notes and balanced sweetness. Lagavulin utilises a long distillation, their whiskies offer peat smoke and good sweetness with peppery spice.

A great number of whisky fanatics and connoisseurs have a great reverence for the Ardbeg distillery. It is considered, in many circles, to produce some of the greatest single malt whiskies the world has ever known. Their whiskies, whilst full and peaty and smoky, also offer a beautiful sweetness and breathtaking balance. Their seminal expression, Uigeadail, was named the world's best whisky in noted critic Jim Murray's 2009 Whisky Bible. It is an awe-inspiring dram which Jim rated with an astonishing 97.5 points.

Uigeadail (pronouncing oog-a-dahl )is crafted from whisky matured in bourbon and fino sherry casks. It was named for Loch Uigeadail, where the distillery draws its waters. It has a full-bodied, peaty nose with notes of dark brown sugar and freshly roasted coffee, dark fruits and tarry malt. The palate is balanced and poised with notes of deep, dark fruits and thick, dark honey and peat. The finish is long and poised, fragrant espresso beans and peat smoke with underlying sweetness.

From the gentle, fruity nature of Bunnahabhain's single malts, to the powerful, peaty whiskies of Laphroaig and Ardbeg, Islay has a truly astounding breadth of flavours. These superb whiskies can be purchased from Master of Malt.






Article Source : http://www.abcarticledirectory.com

Mathew Tinkham has been tasting whisky fro over 20 years. One of his favourites at the moment is Tomatin Whisky , a single cask single malt whisky.


Posted on 2009-11-03, By: *

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