Bar talk – What makes a good whisky?

It’s been around for ages – but is now totally trendy again. Bertie Nyman, whisky expert at the Scottish Romantik Hotel Glencoe House, explains this whisky comeback and tells us how to select the right one

Scotland’s Whiskey Island Islay: a paradise for connoisseurs

Whiskey is made in many parts of the world. From Ireland over the USA to Japan. A small island in Scotland, however, is considered an absolute paradise for whiskey lovers worldwide – the Hebridean island Islay.

Typical landscape: Overlooking Bunnahabhain, Islay, Scottland (Photo: Islay Tourist)Typical landscape: Overlooking Bunnahabhain, Islay, Scottland (Photo: Islay Tourist)

200 kilometers of coast, rugged rocks, long sandy beaches, gentle moorland – a breathtaking scenery that attracts many nature lovers. Throughout the year, there are some rare species such as the corncrake, white-tailed eagle or the alpine crow.

And every autumn and winter, a very special spectacle takes place: thousands of wild geese fly to the island, using Islay as a domicile and as a breeding ground.


The eight active distilleries on Islay (graphic Wikipedia // Balgair)The eight active distilleries on Islay (graphic Wikipedia // Balgair)

The real attraction, however, does not lure visitors to this island paradise into nature, but into traditional walls – into the well-known whiskey distilleries. On nearly 4,000 inhabitants, eight famous distilleries, world-class and of the highest quality, can be found on the small Hebridean island. What makes whiskey from Islay so special?

The single malts are appreciated by the lovers mainly because of their typical smoky and peaty aromas. The extensive peat deposits on Islay are crucial for the special taste, appreciated in the whole whiskey world. The grain for the coveted drinks is dried over peat fire and brings thereby the special, smoky note into the drink. Each of the nine distilleries has its own recipe with a very unique taste and distinctive aroma. The distilleries located in the south of the island, such as the famous Lagavulin, produce rather strong varieties that are enriched with peat smoke and salt water. In the northern distilleries, as in the well-known Bunnahabhain, lighter single malt whiskeys are distilled. They use cereal only lightly dried over the peat fire, tasting milder.

In the well-known distilleries, visitors are informed about the art of whiskey distilling, and of course that includes extensive tasting. The beauty of these high percentage places: they are all in a fantastic scenic location and during the visits you will automatically get to know the most beautiful spots on the island. Liquid tasting, enjoying nature – everything is close together on Islay.


One of the distilleries, currently producing whisky on Islay (Photo: Ardbeg Distillers)

The active distilleries on Islay:





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