Anyone who knows anything about whisky has heard of Islay, even if all you have seen of Islay whisky is in airport shops – there are eight Islay single malts, all but one distilled on the coast and going anticlockwise: Bruichladdich, Bowmore, Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Ardbeg, Caol Ila and Bunnahabhainn. The other operation started distilling at Kilchoman in 2005 and we await the early offerings - a three year old malt was produced in 2011. To find out all there is to know about Scottish whisky try here. For myself I just don’t like the peaty taste of Islay malts, but there is a low peat Bruichladdich called Rocks which is more my style – luckily for Islay there are a lot of people who completely disagree with my taste in whisky.
But far fewer people know where Islay is, and even fewer have actually been there. It is quite different from the other Hebridean islands, and not at all like the Highlands except in a few corners, having a character of its own – more rural, farmland, more whitewashed houses, more money around judging by the size of some of the houses, more birds although they are mostly on the land and not so much at sea, and few castles.