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Issue 83 - Island hopping

Whisky Magazine Issue 83
October 2009


This article is 8 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Island hopping

Scotland's islands are only loosely connected and include vastly differing geographies, histories and whisky styles.

Including all Scotland's islands in the same whisky category is like throwing tabby cats and tigers together.

Islay, of course, has its own category, but within ‘islands' Orkney is bracketed with Arran – which is the equivalent of pairing Wigtown and Wick. And while generally we tend to think of island whiskies as peated in style, this isn't the case at all. Of the 14 island distilleries (we'll ignore Lewis for the moment as it's yet to bottle whisky) the house styles of six of them could be described as mainly unpeated. Take the actual output of the ‘hybrid'distilleries – those that produce both peated and peated whisky – and it's possible that more island malt is unpeated than it is peated – because Caol Ila produces large volumes of unpeated whisky.

You'll need a great deal of time and patience to do the islands properly, and in all likelihood a good bit of weather and a fair wind at your back wouldn't go amiss.

Here then is our quickfire guide to the islands of Scotland.

THE DISTILLERY: Isle of Arran, Lochranza Tel: +44 (0) 1770 830264 A relatively new distillery, this is purpose-built so the tour is great for the novice. The whisky is sweet, vanillery and fresh tasting.

THE ISLAND: Described as Scotland in miniature, Arran is 19 miles long, 10 miles wide, and has diverse scenery.

WHAT ELSE TO DO: Arran is the perfect place for walking and cycling, and has great golf courses.

Arran Aromatics makes cosmetics and soaps, Arran brewery i...

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