Thursday, 1 September 2016

Day 6: Islay - whisky, whisky everywhere (and many drams to drink)

There are no two ways about it, one comes to Islay for the whisky. There are an incredible eight distilleries on this one tiny island. 

Although the basic process for turning water, barley and yeast into whisky is the same wherever you go, I would still recommend visiting different distilleries. On each tour you will have a slightly different experience and glean slightly different information.

Over the last two trips we have now made it to all eight distilleries and, in the process, sampled some seriously good whisky. I always assumed that I didn't like the heavily peated malts for which this island is famous, but at some point in the journey my palate must have changed sufficiently  that I can now genuinely appreciate that whiff of smoke and loam and that slight burn on the roof of the mouth.

We actually left Laphroaig (pronounced Laff-Royg and arguably Islay's most famous export) until last, assuming it would be out least favourite. But whatever you think you know about this famously smoky single malt, prepare to be surprised. We tasted a range of different expressions all of which were far more complex and interesting than we expected.

We are unlikely to come back here, certainly in the near future. It is not as beautiful as our beloved Mull and is certainly not a foodie destination as far as we have been able to tell. But if you are in any way a fan of Scottish whisky, and are interested in challenging your palate and your expectations, this place is an absolute must visit.