Islay, the southernmost of the Scottish islands, is almost always recognised by its peaty expression. Islay is covered in peat bogs and in traditional times burning peat was the most effective way of heating and drying the barley used in whisky production. As peat burns it releases pungent peaty smoke which in turn infused the drying barley and influences style.
Among its famous active distilleries, Islay boasts one of the most legendary of ‘lost’ producers: Port Ellen which closed doors in 1983. Beyond the obvious lurks a surprising diversity of spirit, making the identity of Islay whisky a more elusive prospect than might first appear.
Islay is also one of the fastest growing whisky regions in Scotland with several new distilleries having come online in recent years.