Will You Choose Intense & Complex or Sweet & Smooth?
With eight active distilleries on the island of Islay, the whiskies that come from this 240-square mile isle, are revered for their unique flavor profiles. Created from centuries of accumulated salt spray, seaweed, and peat, the single malt whiskies from Islay are some of the strongest flavored options worldwide. Whether you want an extremely smoky and complex option or a sweet and smooth taste, you are bound to get a wide range of floral, tropical, smoky, and well-balanced drams out of these 6 Islay whiskies.
With deep, powerful torrents of peat, peppered steak, crispy seaweed, and dark fruits like blueberries, black currants, and cherries, this single malt scotch whisky aptly takes after its namesake. Created within French oak casks and Burgundy wine casks, the Ardbeg Corryvreckan takes its name after the world’s second largest whirlpool which sits just north of Islay. The winner of The World’s Best Single Malt in 2010, this dram is melded with a medicinal style, comes in a deep amber color profile, and has layers of tasting notes that shift and move beneath one another.
To the nose, you are going to be swept away by dark waxy chocolate, black currants, plump cherries, and earthy pine. Breathe in a little deeper and you’ll find cayenne-peppered steak, tangy crisp seaweed, and hints of cloves, treacle, chili sauce, menthol, and sweet vanilla. As for the taste, you’ll get to enjoy black tarry expresso, bitter almonds, and hickory with a chalky end of violets. The finish will be powerful, bringing hot pepper sauce, chocolate coated cherries, and black tarry coffee to the forefront of your taste buds. If you are looking for a whisky that gives you layers upon layers to explore, nothing is better than the astonishingly complex Ardbeg Corryvreckan. Comes in at $229.90 or $187.90 on sale, with a volume of 70CL, and an ABV of 57.1%.
If you are looking for a classic Islay whisky to try out, the Laphroaig 10 Years is an excellent choice. This is a single malt scotch whisky that is created by drying out malted barley over a peat fire. While it comes with a sparkling gold color profile, the Laphroaig 10 Years combines a full-bodied, bold and smoky taste with a hint of salty seaweed and a surprising amount of sweetness.
To the nose, you are going to get a whole lot of earthy smoke with a hint of vanilla, herbs, and briny seaweed. While this whisky is oilier than it is thick, this allows you to focus on the sweeter flavors that emerge like buttery croissants, saltwater, toffee, and pears. It has a nice lingering finish to it. Comes in at $98.00 or $88.80 on sale, with a volume of 70CL, and an ABV of 40%.
Known as the gold standard for peated whisky, the Ardbeg 10 Years is a fantastic option for those who want a very heavy, soggy, and deep peated whisky. Created from 100% malted barley and aged for 10 years, the Ardbeg 10 comes with a light golden or straw color profile, medium-thin legs, and is non chilled-filtered. If you are looking for an extremely smoky whisky, the Ardbeg 10 Years should be the primary choice as it is revered around the world for its peat, smoke and maximum flavor.
To the nose, you are going to get an exceptional balance of toffee, chocolate, cinnamon spice, and fresh citrus mixed with floral notes, white wine, melon, pear, and sea spray. Once these wear off, you may find black pepper slices, menthol, smoked fish, pear juice, and pineapple arise. If you choose to add in a splash of water, you are going to get earthy pine, beeswax, toffee, and warm hazelnut mixed with almonds. As for the taste, it comes with liquorice root, tarry smoke, toasted marshmallows, and warm cappuccino. For the long finish, you’ll get fresh pear, barely, and toasted almonds. Comes in at $149.00 or $98.80 on sale with a volume of 70CL and an ABV of 46%.
The Bowmore 12 Years comes with a rich amber color profile, a sweet and delicious taste of honey, and subtle notes of citrus. Unlike other single malt scotch Islay whiskies, the Bowmore 12 has a gentle peat smoke, perfect for beginners who don’t want back-of-the-throat husk strength and instead want a beautifully balanced and complex whisky that is sweeter than others on this list. To the nose, you are going to get a well-rounded and pleasant aroma of bergamot, lemon, jay, and peat smoke with a rich bourbon vanilla and orange blossom taste. The finish will always be a bit ashy and warm. Comes in at $138.80 or $83.90 on sale with a volume of 70CL and an ABV of 40%.
If a stronger, more powerful whisky is what you’re looking for, Lagavulin 16 years may just be the spirit for you. This single malt whisky boasts the signature, potent peat smoke flavour of southern Islay alongside a unique dryness and richness that sets it apart from the crowd. A dark amber in colour, this timeless drink harbors a strong smoky scent within a concentrated aroma of sweetness, spice, sherry, vanilla, and the signature maritime scents of Islay. The peat persists into the taste alongside equally potent flavours of oak, malt, sea salt, sherry, and a fruity sweetness, finishing with additional long notes of spice, figs, dates and seaweed. Comes in at $138.00 or $120.00 on sale with a volume of 70CL at an ABV of 43%.
Hailing from the Islay region of Scotland, this single malt scotch whiskey is elegant while still remaining full in flavour. As with many whiskies, the Caol Ila is aged for a full 18 years, just to the point where it becomes complex and flavorful without being sharp and overpowering. As you raise your glass, you’ll see a pale gold colour and can expect a sweet note of peat, vanilla and even licorice mixed in with the classic maritime scents of Islay. The mix of flavours begins with almonds, vanilla, pineapple and grapefruit, and transitions into a mix of pineapple and peat with a stale woodiness at the back of the throat. These final flavours persist into the finish, which is subtle, yet long lasting, allowing you to relax and enjoy it slowly. Comes in at $260.00 or $244.00 on sale with a volume of 70 CL and an ABV of 43%.