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Here you will find the oldest rocks in Britain, dating from 3 billion years ago. The region includes the islands of the Inner Hebrides, as well as the Kintyre peninsula where Campbeltown once claimed the title "whisky capital of the world" with 30 distilleries but is now down to three. Islay ("Queen of the Hebrides") is particularly well known for its whisky and still has 7 working distilleries: Ardbeg, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Caol Ila, Kilchoman, Lagavulin and Laphroaig. Due to their location, these whiskies frequently have a coastal feel, often salty, with seaweed characteristics and a soft, sweeter peat aroma.
Let your host help you plan your distillery visit with information about opening and tour times
With its limited availability and its difficult name (pronounced "cull-eela") it has been almost a secret Islay malt. The Gaelic word Caol is in English "kyle" meaning "sound" (a narrow strip of water) so Caol Ila means "Sound of Islay". The distillery hidden in a cove near Port Askaig overlooks the Sound of Islay, across which the ferry chugs to the nearby island of Jura. The water source for Caol Ila is the peaty Loch Nam Ban about a mile away from which the water flows through fields, arriving at a waterfall near the distillery. The six stills are large and lantern shaped. Caol Ila was built in 1846, reconstructed in 1879 and rather brusquely modernised in the 1970s.
A neighbour of Laphroig and Ardbeg, with the sea on the doorstep, Lagavulin produces heavily peated whisky, but with a personalised style. For decades now, Lagavulin has been seen as one of the great single malts of the world. It has therefore been easy to overlook the importance that the whisky has had (and to some extent still has) for the White Horse blended scotch, Lagavulin is the oldest distillery on Islay having been founded in 1742 from the merging of several smugglers bothies.
This distillery was founded in 1810 and re-built in the 1950s. After various owners, it is now in the hands of Whyte and Mackay which is part of Emperador Inc and the Philippines Alliance Global Group, the second largest spirit brand in the world. The Isle of Jura's remoteness provides a romantic note for its visitors who are able to enjoy its natural beauty, scenery and wildlife and take part in walking, climbing and exploring.
Oban Distillery is one of Scotland’s oldest distilleries; it was originally established in 1794, but the current buildings date from the 1880s. Oban malt is well-rounded and malty with some smokiness; a whiff of “coast and island”. Oban 14 year old single malt is one of Diageo’s Classic Malts. The distillery is small with only two stills and it is situated right in the heart of Oban town centre. The distillery pre dates the town of Oban; the town grew around the distillery and is named after it. The tour of the distillery is a very popular attraction and booking your tour is always recommended.
From 30 distilleries in its heyday, there are now only 3 left in the historic royal burgh of Campbeltown. Explore the varied tastes of Springbank, Glen Scotia and Glengyle. Glen Scotia was named the Scottish Whisky Distillery of the Year in 2021 and and their 25 year old single malt was crowned as the Best Whisky In the World 2021.