Whisky Tasting

Ardbeg Distillery, Isle of Islay, Scotland

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Ardbeg was the last whisky distillery that we visited on Islay in 2016, and I must admit, I went a bit over board on the photos, its a very photogenic place. Using malted barley sourced from the maltings at Port Ellen, Ardbeg claims to produce the peatiest whisky in Islay, so of course my husband really enjoyed his tastings…..he had mine as well.

Ardbeg lies solitary, in a small cove off the south coast of Islay. It was once a stage for illegal distillation, when smugglers took advantage of the remote location and exceptional conditions for whisky production. Eventually, excise men seized the original, illegitimate buildings from the smugglers and destroyed them. It was not until 1815 that a legal distillery was established and founded by John McDougall. Sitting nearby leviathan distilleries; Laphroaig and Lagavulin, Ardbeg has always produced a very sought-after single malt, despite its production scale being less than half that of its neighbours.

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Glengoyne Distillery, Dumgoyne, Scotland

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Glengoyne Distillery is a picture postcard whisky distillery, which we visited in 2016.   It was a shame that the sky had clouded over on our arrival, but that didn’t take anything away from tasting this whisky, which is unpeated, due to the fact the water is unpeated and the malt used is similarly devoid of peat.  Which I actually liked, husband likes them peaty, but he still bought a bottle for his collection.

The Glengoyne distillery sits at the foot of Dumgoyne Hill near Loch Lomond. The distillery burn, as it is known, tumbles down the Dumgoyne Hill providing water for the 1.1 million litre capacity whisky distillery. In the past, the woodlands and undulations which covered the surrounding area gave superb shelter for the illegitimate distillations that were brought about by heavy spirit taxation. During the early 19th century, it is rumoured, there were as many as eighteen illicit Stills in the area. The whisky that came from these Stills was taken to the local blacksmith, who filled earthenware pots with the rough, wild spirit and employed local girls to walk the 14 miles to Glasgow with the whisky concealed beneath their hooped skirts. The dense woodland once provided shelter for Rob Roy MacGregor who secreted himself in a little hollow when pursued by the English army.

In 1833, the local farmer, George Connell was granted the license to legally produce whisky in the area. He founded the Burnfoot Distillery, which became Glenguin Distillery in 1861, then, in 1906, became Glengoyne. The previous owners Lang Brothers were acquired by Robertson and Baxter. The distillery was renovated and a further still was installed. In 1984, Lang Brothers received a Royal Warrant, having supplied whisky to the Queen Mother. In April of 2003, Ian MacLeod acquired Lang’s blended products and the Glengoyne distillery from the Edrington Group for £7.2 million.

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Caol Ila Distillery, Isle of Islay, Scotland

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Nearing the end of our Whisky Tour of Isley, May 2016 and the one my husband really wanted to visit, was the very difficult to pronounce Caol Ila Distillery.  He really likes this whisky, we even had to drive down after it was closed, just so he could have a look, we had seen it on the ferry coming back from Jura and it did look quite intriguing, nestled in a small bay.  The next day we had a proper look and visited the shop for a couple of tastings

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Pronounced ‘cull-eela’ but say it very quickly and you just might get to hear how it should be pronounced.   The distillery is situated on the North Eastern shores of Islay, with magnificent views across the Sound of Islay to the spectacular Paps of Jura. 

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This is what the web site says……..Islay’s hidden gem, nestled down at the sleepy bay of Caol Ila lies the islands biggest distillery. Like all of Islay’s distilleries Caol Ila is surrounded in some if Scotland’s most beautiful scenery. Sitting on the edge of the sound of Islay, Caol Ila stands tall and proud alongside the fast flowing water separating Islay from Jura making it one of the most picture perfect settings for a distillery.  They are not far wrong, the scenery is spectacular, I should think, come rain or shine. 

Bowmore Distillery, Isle of Islay, Scotland

Carrying on with our whisky tour, we made our way to the south eastern shore of Loch Indaal on the Isle of Islay, in May 2016, to the Bowmore Distillery.  Bowmore is the oldest distillery in Scotland, and established in 1779.  There is a very nice tasting area, with wonderful views over Loch Indaal, which you can gaze at, while tasting your whisky.  

May 2016