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The Iconic Islay whisky | Shopping Guide

Islay is an island located off Scotland’s southern coast. The island is inhabited by less than four thousand people. The rocky island’s main industry is agriculture although that is not what it is known for. Islay is famous because of its iconic whiskies which have been made there since the fourteenth century when the Irish monks are believed to have introduced the art of distillery there for the first time. Islay produces the world famous single malts. Islay whisky can only be produced in Scotland and it has to mature in oak casks for a minimum of three years before it is legally recognised as whiskey. Before that, it is known as plain British spirit. The Rare Malt Whisky Company sell authentic Islay Whisky from their online store.

The island is known for its high number of distillers which is not proportional to the island’s size. It had nine distillers till one closed down its operations in 1983. Port Ellen’s strong smoky and turfy taste flavoured are still some of the most sought-after whiskies, years after the distillery closed its doors. These are some of the most preferred whisky gifts in the UK. Islay Island is believed to be the producer of the best single malt whiskies in the world.

Characteristics of Islay whisky

The Islay whisky is famous for their unique peaty flavour. This comes from the fuel that is used to roast the barley that is used to make the whiskey in the distilleries. The peat gives the final product a slightly medicinal taste. It also tastes a little salty, a little earthy and the distinctive smoky flavour. The Islay whisky isn’t known because of the peat and smoke but they are also very varied among the distilleries. Each of the distilleries produces a unique flavour of whisky.

 List of distilleries in Islay

This is a list of the nine distilleries in Islay including the Port Ellen which was closed down in 1983.

Caol Ila in Gaelic

This distillery was built in 1846 by Hector Henderson. It is the largest of the eight working distilleries in Islay after being rebuilt in 1972 to meet the growing demand for single malt whiskey.


This was Islay’s first distillery to get a license in 1779. It was established by a merchant known as David Simson. It introduced the famous Islay whisky flavour to the world. It is home to the oldest Scotch Maturation Warehouse in the world.


It was founded in 1816. It is known for its slow distillation speeds and its unique pear-shaped pot stills.


It was founded in 1836. It is famous for being Prince Charles’s favourite Islay whisky. It was awarded the Royal Warrant in 1994 by Prince Charles and it’s responsible for almost half of the cases sold in Islay.


It was founded in 1881 near Port Askaig. A village under the same name was founded to house its workers. It has two stills with a capacity of 45,000 litres.


It was built in 1881 on the Rhinns of the Isle of Islay and it distils the world’s most heavily peated whiskey


This is a distillery that was founded in 1815 and prides itself as a producer of some of the most complex single malt whiskies.


Founded in 2005, it’s the latest of the islands famous distilleries and it’s the first to be built in Islay for a period of 124 years.

Port Ellen

It was founded in 1825 and closed in 1983. Since its closure, its whiskies have been the most sought after and therefore increasing the prices.

For hundreds of years, Islay has perfected the art of distilling single malt whiskies and is the most sought after for whiskey gifts in the UK.