If you have been appreciating whisky Islay malts are ones that you are sure to enjoy. Islay single malts are made in the Islay region in Scotland. There are about eight distilleries that are active in this region with a ninth one getting ready for production. This region is so diverse in its beauty that along with whisky production, it has also become a big center for whisky tourism. This region holds a Festival of Malt and Music where there are events which hold whisky tasting sessions and other events that celebrate the culture of the area.
Islay whiskies are generally very smoky in character though there are some whiskies which are relatively mild which are also produced in this region. Along with being smoky and peaty, these whiskies are also a little salty in taste. Initially there were about twenty three distilleries present in this area but this number now has gone down.
The whiskies that are made in the southern part of Islay such as Lagavulin, Ardbeg and Laphroaig are the ones that have the smoky flavor as the central character. These are the distinct characteristics of Islay malts. These flavors are so distinct to this region because of the high peating levels of the barley and the water of this region. Whiskies made in this region have been ascribed a slightly medicinal taste. Notes of seaweed, salt and even a little bit of iodine are found in whiskies coming from this area. The Scottish distillery of Caol Ila which lies in the northern part of the Islay region also produces very strong smoky and peaty whiskies.
There are other styles of whiskies which are made in this region as well. The whiskies made in Bruichladdich and Bunnahabhain distilleries are comparatively much lighter and are slightly peated in taste. However the Bruichladdich distillery is also known for producing heavily peated whiskies. The Bowmore distillery produces whiskies that are quite balanced and have a medium to string peat level. This distillery also uses sherry casks to mature their whisky.
The newest distillery in the Islay region is the Kilchoman distillery. This distillery is located in the western part of Islay in a small town of Kilchoman. This distillery is the most westerly distillery in the whole of Scotland. This is a rather new distillery and had started production in 2005. The first casks of this distillery were filled in December 2005 and bottling began in September 2009. In fact, this distillery is one of the six only distilleries in Scotland which still does traditional floor malting and has all of the other processes of malting, distilling, maturing and bottling to be done on the distillery site.
If you are looking for strong whisky Islay whisky is your choice. In fact the most coveted whisky from this region is called the Lagavulin Single Malt. This whisky has a very powerful smoky, peaty aroma. The flavors of this whisky are full bodied and robust, very well balanced with a slightly sweet and smooth taste.