If there is a whisky drinkers’ paradise, it is in Scotland. WITHIN SCOTLAND, ISLAY IS THE MOST FAVOURED DESTINATION FOR WORSHIPPERS OF THE AMBER NECTAR. ISLAY – WITH remote distilleries where one can taste the landscape IN A WEE DRAM. A TASTING holiday on Islay land should be part of the wish list of every whisky aficionado. The corner of the Inner Hebrides is home to no fewer than eight working distilleries, producing world-famous brands such as Laphroaig and Bowmore, Bruichladdich etc. Islay is world famous for Whisky Distilleries and is one of the best.
Islay is a great Island, which was connected to Ireland, at one time. It’s a great vacation spot and accessible from London and Glasgow by air, road and ferry, unless you wish to enjoy a seaplane ride.
The 240 square miles of land, an impressive coastline of 130 miles and merely 3000 people inhabiting Islay; provides an unforgetABLE experience of not just whisky, but also sandy beaches, striking seascapes and adventurous wildlife. ISLAY IS a perfect short break destination for the whisky connoisseurs, COMBONED WITH NATURE WALKS, CYCLING AND MOUNTAIN CLIMBING.
|HighlightsLoch Lomond National Park; Kilmartin standing stones; The Islay Distilleries; Sandy beaches of Islay’s west; The ruins of Kildalton church with its famous 8th Century Celtic cross, Visit to the community craft producers at Islay House Square and the woodlands along the River Sor|
The first time I visited Islay, was almost 8 years back, when I was totally soaked in by the idyllic lifestyle of one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Several visits and 8 years later, Islay remains nearly the same – an amazing island with 8 amazing whisky distilleries and a small happy population. Rain, Wind, Weather, Sunshine, Storms, define life & lifestyle at Islay. Winters can be really cold and summers can be sometimes just 3 months, it will be raining at breakfast, though by the time one finishes the cuppa of Tea, Sun will be smiling! INFACT, TIME IS DETERMINED ON ISLAY, BASED ON THE WEATHER AND WORK IS PLANNED BASED ON THE RAIN.
AS THEY SAY “TODAY`S RAIN IS TOMORROW`S WHISKY”.
Visitors can sample drams at their lodging or a nearby pub, in the company of locals or other travelers, and partaking of hearty Scottish fare. They can learn that single-malt Scotch is sipped one of three ways: “naKED,” or without any water or ice; with an ice cube or two; or with a little water to release a fuller range of flavors—to “open the flower” or “free the beast.”
When Scots raise their glasses they follow the traditional Gaelic toast—“sláinte mhath,” or “good health to you”.
Amidst all these vagaries of nature, lies the beautiful “Hollow by the Bay” – Laphroaig, the world`s largest selling Islay Single Malt whisky. The distillery has been in the same location for 200 years and been producing great malt whisky, ever since.One can choose from a variety of tours including a 4 day specialist whisky tour which takes you to the “Queen of the Isles” and the Whisky Coast. For the whisky enthusiast this tour will give an in depth knowledge including tasting sessions and distillery tours with the experts.
There is a story behind each and every glass of Scotland’s whisky. It is the story of a place and the people who have lived and worked for generations; people whose craftsmanship captures the spirit of Scotland. From the Highlands to the islands, there are handsome distilleries across Scotland with doors flung wide open to welcome whisky tourists. Each one of them offers visitors a guided tour followed by a tasting session. So, take a swirling, bubbling barrel ride at the world’s best distilleries while becoming part of the whisky making process.
Islay ALSO offers a sporty pastime. One can enjoy Golf at the Machrie Golf course, go riding in the hills or take ponies up the mountain or simply discover quaint spots. There are many things to see and do besides visiting the distilleries and enjoying the scenery and wildlife. Golf, cycling, fishing, horse riding and hill walking are only a few of many possible activities. You can take a car and drive around the beautiful countryside. Several annual festivals on the island attract many visitors, especially the Islay Festival of Malt and Music, which is held in May every year. Other festivals are the Islay Jazz Festival, the Rugby Festival and the Cantilena festival. The Islay Quilters, Persabus pottery and Islay woolen Mill are world famous. Loch Indall and Laggan Bay offer excellent swimming beaches.
Laphroaig Distillery recently CELEBRATED 200 YEARS BY INVITING ELECT VISITORS TO THE DISTILLERY, BESIDES GREAT HOSPITALITY, A KEY HIGLIGHT WAS ENJOYING THE WHISKY AT very source of the Water, Loch Kilbride, which makes the whisky. It was an amazing experience to enjoy a dram, with water FROM THE SOURCE OF THE WHISKY, on top of a hill, with freezing winds, next to a chilled spring & on a bare hilltop. An experience to live by forever! I feel that this can be enjoyed by any visitor, since it has an amazing thrill, drinking fresh water from gurgling streams, flowing from unknown sources, with water being fresh, chilled and QUITE REWARDING!
There is more to do in Islay as well, though my favourite are long walks. Few years back, I had walked alone for almost 2.5 hours. It was a Sunday evening and I only saw one car and a few hundred sea gulls and Sheep.
Dining in Islay is an experience. There are hotels like Harbour Inn, Islay Hotel, Bridgend Hotel, Taste of Bowmore and small B&Bs. My favourite is the café at Ardbeg distillery, which offers some great cuisine and has a permanent Chef, with a team. Besides Soups and Sandwiches, meal times witness Steaks, Salmon, Salads, Lamb Chops and all kinds of sea-food. The best part is that all produce is fresh and menu is based on the meats that are bought into the Island that day. Folks, who like smoky, intense taste, should put up a Beach BBQ. It can be offered by locals, using local produce. Vegetarians beware!! Vegetables are only offered in Salads, MOST BBQ is meat. THOUGH I DID TRY ROAST POTATOES, CARROTS AND PEPPERS. KEEPING IN VIEW THE LIFESTYLE AND WEATHER, BEEF AND FISH ARE PREFERRED MEATS.
ISLAY OFFERS A SOUL SEEKING AND SPIRITED EXPERIENCE. A HOLIDAY ON THE ISLAND CAN BE AN INTOIXICATING EXPERIENCE. STAY HIGH…