Islay Whisky Tours
"The true taste of Islay hospitality"
Islay's oldest distillery has been going since 1779. Bowmore's now legendary No. 1 Vaults is a very special place indeed. The oldest maturation warehouse in Scotland and the only one below sea level, its dark, damp and cold conditions are perfect for maturing whisky. It's there that whisky spend their long lives maturing in specially selected oak casks, gradually developing the finest of flavours. It also has it's own Malt floor where you can see the barley being turned into malt before mashing. Located in the village of Bowmore, Islay's capital, it's a good place to spend some time, have a walk around and perhaps do some shopping. The "Taste" bistro is a lovely place for lunch. Bowmore Hotel is a great place to stay and eat. Also in Bowmore are the Lochside Hotel and The Harbour Inn.
Bowmore distillery offer self-catering cottages for let. All are beautifully renovated to 4 Star Visit Scotland standard, and are located within or beside the distillery complex. Guests staying at the Bowmore cottages are invited to join a complimentary distillery tour, to savour a dram, and to simply relax.
Upon arrival guests will also find a bottle of 12 year old Bowmore waiting in their cottage for them.
The distillery began production in June 2005, and was the first to be built on Islay in over 120 years. This is Islay's only farm distillery making whisky in the way farmers did for hundreds of years. The distillery uses barley grown here on Islay and malted at the distillery, as well as malt from the Port Ellen maltings and releases separate bottlings depending on the source of the grain. They also bottle in-house. It's location out on the west coast close to Machir Bay, makes Kilchoman a very popular destination with our guests. It also has a great wee cafe for lunch or afternoon coffee. Some of the first whiskies distilled are now coming of age and have a growing army of fans.
The distillery was founded in 1881 and is Islay's most northerly distillery, sitting in a lovely bay on Islay's north-east coast. The bay is also home to about 4 or 5 small crab and lobster fishing boats that fish the Sound and beyond. It is also one of the best places to see otters.
Bunnahabhain is a lovely light, non peated malt and the 18 yr old is fantastic! The drive up to the distillery is wonderful and the twisty road is a photographers dream. Out of all the places we drive our guests, this is the one stretch of road where we are asked to stop for a photo more than anywhere else!
Bruichladdich distillery was built in 1881 by the Harvey brothers. The Harveys were a dynastic whisky family with over a century of distillery ownership, including Glasgow’s Yoker and Dundas Hill disitlleries. The three brothers decided to combine their expertise to build a third Harvey distillery: Robert (23) designed it, John (31) had the distilling experience, and William (32) had the money. Always a favourite dram with the locals, the 10 year old is quite a contrast to some of the other Islay malts. Very smooth, mellow and fruity. After being bought by Whyte and MacKay in the late 80's it closed in the early 90's. It was bought and re opened and now is doing very well indeed. Great tours and a huge variety of expressions. Now all you single malt purists cover your ears and look away now....................they also make the Botanist gin!
All the distillery’s whiskies are sold as single malts, with those designated Bruichladdich being unpeated, those designated Port Charlotte being heavily peated and those designated Octomore being super-heavily peated. Octomore is considered to be 'the most heavily peated single malt whisky in the world'. All the barley used is exclusively Scottish, some of which has been grown on Islay since 2004. The provenance of the barley used is extremely important philosophically and this is reflected in the marketing and presentation of the product range. Individual farms, farmers and even the fields in which the grain is grown, are identified on the packaging where possible. All the bottling is done in house and Bruichladdich is now Islay's largest private employer with around 60 workers. Fantastic hospitality from Mary and her team in the "Laddie Visitor Centre"
The old distillery was demolished in the early 1970's and completely rebuilt and re-opened in 1974. Caol Ila is one of the lighter Islay whiskies, pale in colour, with peaty, floral and peppery notes. In addition to being sold as a single malt, it is used heavily in blends such as Johnnie Walker. Since 1999, the distillery has also produced a non-peated "highland spirit". It is now Islay's biggest producer with well over 6 million litres a year and rising. Stunning views across the Sound of Islay to Jura with it's distinctive 3 Paps and up to the north you can see the south east tip of Colonsay with the mountains of Mull in the background.
Even though the distillery didn't open until 1810, the people of Jura were entitled to distill whisky for personal consumption, until a ban was introduced in 1781.
The distillery fell into disrepair, but in the 1960s two local estate owners Robin Fletcher and Tony Riley-Smith rebuilt the distillery, employing architect William Delme-Evans. By 1963 their work was complete; they had introduced taller stills allowing the distillery to create a mix of malts. At the moment there are 4 expressions:-
"Origin" is a ten year old whisky. This lightly peated malt is made from a selection of aged Jura single malt whiskies.
"Diurachs' Own" is sixteen years old.
"Superstition", a single malt "lightly peated with hints of smoke."
"Prophecy" is a heavily peated malt, bottled without chill filtration. In the early 1700s the Campbells of Jura evicted a man who prophesised that the last Campbell to leave the island would be one-eyed with his belongings carried in a cart drawn by a lone white horse. In 1938 Charles Campbell, blind in one eye from a war injury, fell on hard times and led his white horse to the old pier for the last time.
Only 5 minutes from Port Askaig on the ferry, a visit to Jura is well worth the little extra time and money (less than £30 for car + 4 passengers return on the ferry). Your visit to Jura can be part of your tour and can be as long or as short as you wish. You can do the distillery tour, have lunch and drive north up the only road as far as you wish or time allows or, make it a quick hop over for a quick visit. The distillery is only a 15 minute drive from the ferry terminal.
Jura is different to Islay in many ways but the people are very much the same. Proud of their island and it's produce and rightly so! Just like us Ileachs, the Dhiurachs are very friendly and welcome visitors with a genuine warmth.
Isle of Jura
Ardnahoe opened 2019
This is about the long-held dream of a Scottish family who has been in the Scotch whisky industry for 3 generations. After being blenders and bottlers for such a long time, the Laing family takes pride to become distillers. Ardnahoe Distillery is scheduled to open early in 2018 and will become Islay’s ninth operational distillery – only the second one in Islay to start up in over 100 years. With a production capacity of just 500,000 litres of alcohol per annum, Ardnahoe will distill a classic peated style of Islay malt, using the finest barley and water from the depths of Loch Ardnahoe itself.
UPDATE April 2019 … the distillery is now in production. The visitor centre and café are open for visitors and tours.