The whiskies of the distilleries along the southeastern coast of the island, Laphroaig, Lagavulin, and Ardbeg, have a smoky character derived from peat, considered a central characteristic of the Islay malts, and ascribed both to the water from which the whisky is made and to the peating levels of the barley. The Scottish Isle of Islay, also referred to as Queen of the Hebrides, has 9 working whisky distilleries, stunning scenery, amazing wildlife, fabulous beaches and a lot more. Some sources indicate that Irish monks may have been the first to distill whisky on the island in the early 1300s. , there were 133 Scotch whisky distilleries operating in Scotland. Islay whisky is Scotch whisky made on Islay (/ˈaɪlə/ EYE-lə) or Ìle in Gaelic, one of the southernmost of the Inner Hebridean Islands located off the west coast of Scotland. Bunnahabhain makes much lighter whiskies which are generally lightly peated. In addition, he gave up the excise farm; in future, the islanders would have to pay duties set by the government. During the second half of the century however, much of the rural population was lost through emigration. Whisky is a key part of Fèis Ìle, an annual celebration of Gaelic history, poetry, song and dance. Islay’s population peaked at around 15,000 people around 1830, with most of the population still living by subsistence farming. Strong workforce: Ardbeg’s excisemen and distillery workers pictured in the 1850s (Photo: The Museum of Islay Life). Being remote, it’s an art that … Islay is fertile, has a wild peninsula called the Oa, and huge areas of peat bog, which is vital for whisky production. Known as "The Queen of the Hebrides", it lies in Argyll just south west of Jura and around 40 kilometres (25 mi) north of the Northern Irish coast. The oldest record of a legal distillery on the island of Islay refers to Bowmore in 1779 and at one time there were up to 23 distilleries in operation. Booming business: Ardbeg is now expanding its stillhouse to cope with increasing demand (Photo: Catriona Farquhar). The latest moves on ‘Whisky Island’, including new, revived and expanding distilleries. After the Napoleonic Wars ended in 1815, greater efforts were made to stamp out the illicit trade and some of Islay’s more ‘responsible’ tenants were encouraged to take out licences to distil. The distillery did not fare well, and changed hands in 1854 … Islay is the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. Islay’s annual Festival of Music and Malt has become one of the most eagerly anticipated events on the world’s whisky calendar, and attracts tens of thousands of visitors. The region is characterised by whiskies with a peat smoke aroma, such as Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg. [3][4] Islay is a centre of "whisky tourism", and hosts a "Festival of Malt and Music" known as Fèis Ìle each year on the last week of May, with events and tastings celebrating the cultural heritage of the island. History Timeline Owner Contact The Ileach Profile Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Not necessarily an official name of the distillery. Fines were deliberately set at a low level by the island’s magistrates who knew the offenders as friends, tenants or customers. The Scottish island of Islay is the home of eight world famous whisky distilleries. Ardnahoe History. Hunter Laing's Ardnahoe Distillery, located between Port Askaig and Bunnahabhain, opened in April 2019, becoming Islay's ninth distillery. All Scotch whisky was originally made from malted barley. "[6], Another source is more specific: "Islay’s past is pervaded by innumerable tales of home distilling, smuggling and illegal whisky production" and adds that the eight older distilleries all began as small, illicit producers. A growing interest in traditional foods and drinks, and in products with bold, distinctive flavours, was exemplified by the success of the Campaign for Real Ale in Britain. The distillers have begun grooming young Ileachs for jobs as brand ambassadors and in sales and management – jobs which have been dominated by mainlanders in the past. Iain Russell explores Islay’s tempestuous whisky history, and the island’s recent peaty revival. Before planning a holiday to Islay make sure to visit the Islay Bookshop for a complete selection of available maps and books about Islay's rich history, the wildlife and whisky. The Kilchoman distillery started production in late 2005; in location it is unlike the other distilleries, which are all by the sea. Dark chocolate truffle with cocoa powder and Lagavulin Single Malt Whisky C. Dark chocolate truffle with cocoa powder and Bunnahabhain Single Malt Whisky … [26] For example, Port Charlotte distillery operated from 1829 to 1929[27] and Port Ellen is also closed although it remains in business as a malthouse[26] that supplies many of the Islay distilleries. (Normal peat bogs are invaded by trees and periodic fires kill the encroaching tree line.) Trees, other than plantations, on these islands are scattered and the peat is free of rotting wood. Scotch whisky distilled on Islay, Scotland, "Islay Malt Whisky and Islay Whisky Distilleries Map", "Islay Distilleries - Whisky Tours, Tastings & Map", Peat, bog and world-class whisky – why Islay remains the jewel in Scotland’s single-malt crown, "Ardnahoe Distillery on Islay officially opens", "Remy Cointreau to buy Scotland's Bruichladdich", "Gartbreck distillery: is there still hope? Like others who failed to appear in court, they were outlawed. The Character of Islay Whisky Company. History of Islay Islay’s history stretches back to around 8000 BC. ", "Four New Whisky Distilleries on Islay - Islay Blog",, Short description is different from Wikidata, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, Ardbeg village, on the south-east coast of the island, Morrison Bowmore Distillers Ltd, a subsidiary of, Bruichladdich village, on western shore of, Reopened as an independent distillery in 2001 and purchased in 2012 by, Bunnahabhain Bay, on the north-east coast of the island, Independently owned and established in 2005 as the first new distillery on Islay since 1881, Laphroig village, on the south-east coast of the island, Ardenistle (1837–1849) / Kildalton (1849–1852) / Islay (1852–1852), subsumed by Laphroaig 1853, Ardmore (1817–1835), taken over by Lagavulin 1837, Daill (1814–1830), ruins on road between Port Askaig & Bridgend, Kildalton (1817–1837), merged with Lagavulin, Malt Mill (1908–1962), now part of Lagavulin, Mulindry (1826–1827), at the junction of the Neriby Burn and the River Laggan, now in ruins, Newton (1819–1837), ruins immediately south of A846 between Port Askaig & Bridgend, Octomore (1816–1852), ruins near Port Charlotte, Port Ellen (1825–1929, 1967–1983), large port village of Islay, converted to a malting, Scarabus (1817–1818), no evidence of production, Tallant (1821–1852), Tallant farm south of Bowmore, This page was last edited on 11 January 2021, at 15:45. Those convicted of excise offences were hardly discouraged. Job losses affected a significant proportion of a population that had fallen to under 4,000. Sales of Islay single malts have increased exponentially. Hundreds of men and women were charged each year either with making or selling whisky without a licence, most notably on the Oa peninsula and along the south coast. It would be foolish indeed to not include one of our favorite single malts … Islay peat is reputedly the best flavoured for scotch production. Islay whisky’s rollercoaster ride continued; the surging worldwide demand for lighter spirits such as vodka, and the change in taste from big and peaty to light and delicate blended whiskies, accentuated the slump in orders for fillings from the island. [5] According to Visit Scotland, "most of Islay's original distilleries [some no longer in business] started as farm distilleries and retreated to secluded glens and caves during the 17th century when the excise man came calling. Despite centuries of warfare, taxation and changing economic tides, Islay’s resilient population has kept whisky making alive on the island. On Islay they found an island eminently suited … Bowmore is said to be one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland, dating back to 1779. There was an explosion of whisky-related criminality on Islay during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Launch of single malt’s second edition comes eight years after its initial release in 2009. The short history of nearly everything Laphroaig On the far edge of the Scotch whisky map, it's supposed that the art of distillation was first brought to Islay by Irish monks. All were built near water since grain was shipped on boats and the finished whisky was transported via water. Excise boats were sent to patrol the seas around Islay, and they landed armed raiding parties to search for and destroy stills hidden in houses and byres, in bothies and in caves. British historian Alfred Barnard wrote that ‘smuggling was the chief employment of the crofters and fishermen, more especially during the winter… and large families were supported by it’. Many offenders simply refused to turn up in court when summonsed. According to Visit Scotland, "most of Islay's original distilleries [some no longer in business] started as farm distilleries and retreated to secluded glens and caves during the 17th century when the excise man came calling." The newest distillery is Ardnahoe, the island's ninth, which opened in 2019. Copyright © 2021. This tiny island boasts eight distilleries each with its own unique smokey character, offering a chance to try the varying styles of peated whisky. well-publicised challenges and inconveniences, Glenrothes 1988 vintage gets second release, A drone’s eye view of Islay’s distilleries. Noticing rapidly growing demand for its Islay … Allied Distillers launched the category-defining ‘Love it, Hate it’ campaign which promoted the cult of Islay, and encouraged whisky drinkers to visit the island on a peaty pilgrimage. There is a realisation that the way ahead is to diversify – to produce Islay whiskies that range in flavour from extremely peaty to not peaty at all, as at Bruichladdich, and to develop and promote new types of whiskies and other products such as gin, always with a distinctive Islay character. From The Character of Islay Whisky Company comes a mysterious Islay single malt that goes by the name Aerolite Lyndsay. The Balvenie Distillery, Dufftown Other brands that followed the path paved by The Glenlivet are Glenfiddich, Macallan, Glenburgie, Balvenie, and Dufftown; some of the few distilleries with an … Pronunciation of the Scottish Gaelic from which they are derived may be different. Its first inhabitants were from the Mesolithic period – numerous tools and implements discovered in archaeological digs have confirmed … The distilleries provided an income for hundreds of islanders and their families, but there were very few well-paid positions in management. To what extent the people of Islay benefitted from whisky making is open to debate. Bowmore, which started business in 1779, produces a whisky which is well balanced, using a medium-strong peating level (25 ppm) but also using sherry-cask maturation. Many describe this as a "medicinal" flavour. No one knows when the people of Islay – the Ileachs – began distilling, but commentators were noting the islanders’ fondness for whisky by the 1770s. This Whisky truffle set contains 9 truffles: A. Small coastal villages grew up around the distilleries – Ardbeg, for example, was at one time home to around 200 people and had its own post office, school and billiards hall. There are also a range of photographs depicting local traditions and settlements in the early 20th century. A History of Whisky on Islay and Jura It is believed that the Irish monks first introduced the art of distillation to Islay, during the early fourteenth century. A social divide was exemplified by the fact that, while English was the language of the distillery office, Gaelic remained the predominant language in the maltings and warehouses until the 1960s. There are a few places in the world that are synonymous with fine whiskies and Scotland’s Isle of Islay is one of them. Distillery decline: Ardbeg suffered from a lack of investment during the 1970s (Photo: The Glenmorangie Archive). † These reflect what are often anglicised re-spellings of Scottish Gaelic. Port Ellen was acquired by mainland interests in the 1820s, Lagavulin in 1836, and Bowmore in 1837 – the same year that Ardbeg, which was effectively in liquidation, was rescued by its Glasgow agents. Whisky from the northern area is milder because it is made using spring water for a "lighter flavoured, mossy (rather than peaty), with some seaweed, some nuts..." characteristic. For centuries, the whisky was usually aged in sherry casks but bourbon casks from the U.S. are now also frequently used.[7]. Bunnahabhain closed for two years in 1982 and Port Ellen was closed in 1983 and demolished. However, while these men might have mastered the art of distilling, most lacked the capital, the business skills or the market contacts – sometimes all three – required to survive the periodic crises which buffeted the industry. All of these ingredients are found on the island of Islay. Investment flooded in to the island to extend existing distilleries and to build new ones at Bruichladdich and Bunnahabhain. When the prohibition on distilling ended, not a single Islay distiller applied to the Scottish Excise Board for a licence nor paid a single penny in duty – the industry had gone underground. Islay Distilleries There are currently nine working distilleries on Islay, with two more planned to open in the next couple of years. Some sources indicate that Irish monks may have been the first to distill whisky on the island in the early 1300s. [9], In general however, the whiskies from this island are known for a "pungent peaty, smoky and oily flavours, with just a hint of salty sea air and seaweed" because of the use of peat and the maritime climate. Thanks to a relaxing of laws, this was once again legal and the Johnston brothers soon realised that it was more profitable than livestock. In the early 19th Century, farmers Donald and Alexander Johnston leased 1,000 acres of land from the laird of Islay to rear cattle. The first recorded distillery was Bowmore, founded in 1779; the most recent was Ardnahoe, which was established in 2018. Islay Distilleries: Scotland’s Whisky History History books indicate that Irish monks first introduced the art of distillation to Islay, during the early 14th-century. More info: Whisky History History of whisky making on Islay More info: Alfred Barnard The Travels of Alfred Barnard to Islay … A new boom in sales of blended Scotch in the 1960s and early ‘70s brought renewed investment in distillery plants and facilities on Islay, but also fuelled the period of overproduction which filled the infamous ‘whisky loch’ of the early 1980s. Yet Islay whisky was always at the mercy of international events. "Islay Strait") in reference to the distillery's location overlooking the strait between Islay and Jura. Kilchoman and now Ardnahoe have opened, Port Ellen is to be rebuilt and at least two other distilleries are in the planning pipeline. Members of the McEachern family, for example, were charged with breaking into an exciseman’s cellar and stealing 125 gallons of whisky. In the worst cases, Lochindaal closed forever in 1929 and Port Ellen, mothballed that year, did not reopen until 1967. [2] The Island's own web site is more specific. Bruichladdich History. Bruichladdich shut in 1995. Reports suggest that, rather than flee from the island, they went into hiding and continued to make whisky illegally. Now, it is the second smallest, although due to its huge worldwide following, its community is bigger … Enter your email address below to keep updated with the latest news from, Whisky island: Lagavulin distillery’s iconic White Horse emblem was a notable landmark for shipping to Islay. British historian Alfred Barnard wrote that ‘smuggling was the chief employment … Opened in 1815, at one time Ardbeg was the largest distillery on Islay, supporting an entire community. Whisky was almost certainly brought to Scotland from Ireland by monks but ever since it arrived it has been part of Scottish culture and entwined with its history.The first official mention of whisky … Laphroaig Quarter Cask. Port Ellen is the main port. However, when a national prohibition on distilling was introduced in 1795 during a period of crop failures, he did his patriotic duty: he confiscated and locked away at least 90 stills belonging to his tenants, to ensure they could not be used. †† The Scottish Gaelic from which the distillery's name was anglicised if applicable, according to Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba. Cult following: Islay distilleries such as Lagavulin have enjoyed a resurgence of interest. There is a strong interest in exploring ‘traditional’ ways of doing things on Islay; to rebuilding maltings, to working with local barley and to exploring other aspects of Islay ‘terroir’. Islay is therefore a five star … The peaty whisky has been … A documentary special about the magic of the golden liquid called whisky and the small island off the coast of Scotland which has been called "the Capital of Whisky." More info: Lost distilleries An overview of Islay's lost Distilleries. Facebook Twitter Pinterest The Mull of Oa in the south of Islay. In response, according to the report of a senior excise official in 1799, Campbell’s tenants ‘got over from Ireland tinkers, who fitted up for them cauldrons and boilers as stills’. Islay whisky flowed freely to Argyllshire, Inverness-shire, Mull, Lewis, Galloway and Ireland. Dark chocolate truffle with cocoa powder and Bruichladdich Single Malt Whisky B. Whisky consists mainly of peat, water, barley and most importantly, it is made by people. More info: Making Whisky Process of making Islay Whisky. [2] In total, there are nine active distilleries on this island which measures only 25 by 15 miles (40 by 24 kilometres), and the industry is Islay's second largest employer after agriculture. The island's capital is Bowmore where the distinctive round Kilarrow Parish Church and a distillery are located. Bowmore (/ boʊˈmɔːr / boh-MOR) is a distillery that produces Scotch whisky on the Isle of Islay, an island of the Inner Hebrides. Luxurious Handmade Truffles from the Whisky Island. The distillers lobbied for and provided better piers and sea connections with the mainland. Two world wars, Prohibition in the US and the Great Depression of the late 1920s until the ‘30s resulted in long periods of closure for the distilleries. The distillery, which lies on the South Eastern shore of Loch Indaal, is one of the … “Savage, stern, uncompromising: Islay is the conscience of Scotch.”– Andrew Jefford, “Peat, Smoke and Spirit” ISLAY, Scotland – No sooner had the Loganair Saab 340B pierced the cloud cover heading west out of Glasgow than we were plunging back through the thick gray cumulus hovering over Islay… The History of Whisky Distilling. It was carried in the holds of small boats along the River Clyde, hidden under cargoes of potatoes, straight to the heart of Glasgow. Company profits were largely repatriated to the mainland. Suddenly, Islay was on the rise again. Ever since Stewart Laing worked at Bruichladdich as a teenager he felt an affinity with Islay and harboured a dream to one day build a family-owned and run distillery on the island.. Islay whisky hit new heights of popularity in the 1870s and 1880s, when it was highly sought after to provide body and big, peaty flavour for blended Scotch whiskies. Distilleries in the south make whisky which is "medium-bodied ... saturated with peat-smoke, brine and iodine" because they use malt that is heavy with peat as well as peaty water. The man who owned five Islay distilleries, who was also a great agricultural moderniser. About Islay The Isle of Islay … There was an explosion of whisky-related criminality on Islay during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. All Rights Reserved. Campbell hoped distilling would boost demand for locally-grown barley, earn much-needed cash for his tenants through exports, and foster jobs in new and prosperous industrial communities. Many whisky tourists visit Islay’s distilleries, but how many have experienced them from the air? Lagavulin acquired a cult fan base after it was included in the ground-breaking The Classic Malts of Scotland selection by United Distillers & Vintners in 1988. Once you’ve had a chance to look around the museum, you’ll continue to Islay… Local knowledge suggests distilling started … [10], In future however, the whisky industry on this island may be moving to a broader range of products, some less peaty than the current majority as well as new types of whisky. Islay’s international reputation as the home of big peaty whiskies is now well-established, and the fortunes of the people who live there will be inextricably linked with the industry for the foreseeable future. Ardbeg closed entirely between 1981 and 1989 and hirpled through the 1990s with little investment. But the lessons of more than 200 years of boom and bust are that popular tastes are cyclical, that demand for Islay’s single malt whisky can plummet as spectacularly as it can rise. New era: Young Ileachs, including Bruichladdich’s Christy McFarlane, are choosing to work on Islay (Photo: Bruichladdich). Most of Islay's original distilleries - some long since lost to history - started as farm distilleries and retreated to … Yet the Ileachs were not passive victims of excise persecution, as they are sometimes portrayed. Located off the west coast of Scotland, Islay has just over 3000 residents and has officially been making whisky for 200 years … Whisky tourism is a growing island industry. The Ileach is a young and peaty single malt from an unnamed Islay distillery, available in 40% abv and cask strength (58% … Many of those who remained were resettled in Port Ellen, Bowmore and other villages, and the distillers began to play an increasingly important role in island life. A history and info of Port Charlotte Distillery. While the expansion of the whisky industry on Islay has brought well-publicised challenges and inconveniences, there is no doubt it has made a huge contribution to a renewed confidence in Islay’s economy and to the end of nearly 190 years of depopulation. In 1824, the Scottish Excise Board received a complaint that ‘some of the delinquents have been fined upwards of 30 times, which has no other effect than encourage them’. [22][9], A new distillery at Gartbreck Farm, just south of Bowmore, was planned in 2014 by Jean Donnay of Glann ar Mor Distillery[23] in Brittany, France, as a joint venture with Hunter Laing of Glasgow but as of December 2018 the project was stalled over a land and management dispute. The first recorded mention of Bowmore Distillery The first recorded mention of the Bowmore Distillery, the first licensed distillery on Islay and second in Scotland. They also possess notes of iodine, seaweed and salt. Bruichladdich may have been described as ‘a working distillery museum’, but in its day it was one of Islay’s most modern plants – and today is one of Scotland’s most innovative. No one can better communicate the personality of Islay, than a person from Islay. It was smuggled across the Mull of Kintyre to Ayrshire. Ardbeg and Bruichladdich reopened under energetic new management. Islay is one of five whisky distilling localities and regions in Scotland whose identity is protected by law.[1]. They complained of threats and physical assaults when they attempted to confiscate or destroy the illicit stills. One by one, these small distilleries failed or were acquired by members of the new breed of whisky brokers and blenders emerging on the mainland. There were years of extreme hardship for those who had been employed at the distilleries or in whisky-related jobs such as peat-cutting and transport. It was founded in 1846 by Hector Henderson. In 2013 Laing established independent bottling company Hunter Laing & Co., and recruited his two sons, Andrew and Scott, to the board.. They supplied community leaders such as the Grahams of Lagavulin, the Hays of Ardbeg and, most notably, John Ramsay of Port Ellen. They were given a plot that was named called Laphroaig, which is said to mean “broad hollow by the bay” in Gaelic.However, when faced with a surplus of barley for feeding the cattle, they turned to producing whisky. Commercial distilleries began introducing whisky made from wheat and rye in the … They called for reinforcements. On Islay they found an island … And then came the single malts revival. At first, the small band of excisemen stationed on the island was overwhelmed by the scale of the challenge. [11], (Believed to be Gaelicised Old Norse)[21]. The other distilleries on the island make whisky in a variety of styles. Campbell ‘farmed’ the excise duties on Islay – he held the right to set and collect the payments on the island, in return for an annual payment to the government. [24] It is thought another distillery may open in Port Ellen in the future, possibly under the name of Farkin Distillery.[25]. It was … It was at this time that Islay’s largest landowner, Walter Campbell of Shawfield, was actively encouraging diversification of the island’s predominantly agricultural economy through the development of industries such as linen-making, mining and fishing. In March 2007 Bruichladdich Distillery announced the reopening of the distillery at Port Charlotte (Port Sgioba in Gaelic), which was closed in 1929, and was also known as the Lochindaal distillery. Journalists like Wallace Milroy, Michael Jackson and Jim Murray began to sing the praises of peaty single malts. Objects range from illicit whisky stills to the bell from a notorious shipwreck and various early-Christian carvings. Whisky Island: This documentary charts life on Islay during the 1960s. [8] Caol Ila, on the northern side of the island, across from Jura, also produces a strongly peated whisky. Islay Pronounced eye-luh, this island has become synonymous with heavily peated and maritime styles of whisky.