Distilleries, woollen mills, standing stones and whisky - a visit to Islay (C) WL SleighWhisky distilleries on Islay (and a drop of gin too!)

We have recently had a few requests to include Islay whisky distilleries into our clients’ itineraries so I thought it was time to refresh my local knowledge as it had been a few years since my last visit. Islay and Jura are not the easiest places to get to, particularly if a client’s time is limited in Scotland. I caught the first morning flight out of Glasgow airport at about 09.00 and then returned on the last one out that evening at about 17.30. Ideally, to enjoy the Island properly and to visit all the distilleries and include Jura you really need 2 or 3 days. However you can get a flavour of the islands on a short visit – that may be enough to entice you back again? The flight only takes 25 minutes and Islay airport is so small you feel as if you have arrived on you own personal jet. From landing to being whisked away by my guide only took 10 minutes. My day was blessed by wonderful sunshine. My guide knows everyone on the island and so it was a very personal experience and a great way to get an insight into island life. We had time to visit Lagavulan, Laphroaig, Ardbeg distilleries in the south and Bowmore, Bruichladdich and Kilchoman in the middle of the island. As there are other distilleries to see I have a very good excuse to go back soon. The contrasts between the different distilleries surprised me. I had not heard of Kilchoman before, it is a very small distillery and really appealed to me. One shed contained cattle and in the next was a still! 10.30 in the morning is usually a bit early for my first whisky but it was very pleasant. I was very glad not to be driving as I would have been heartbroken to have had to turn down all the kind offers of various tastings! I am not normally a gin drinker, and I did not expect to find such a spirit on the island, but I was very pleasantly surprised. We squeezed in a visit to a local brewery, a woollen mill (which actually made the produce it sold rather than being just another retail outlet), some lovely beaches and a standing stone. We also checked out a couple of hotels which were very nice and just by spending time with my guide I learned a lot more about this lovely island.   If you’d like to include the Islay and Jura distilleries (or any others in Scotland) then do let us know.

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WL Sleigh Ltd | Unit 11A West Craigs, Turnhouse Rd, Edinburgh EH12 0BD | T +44 131  339 9607 | F +44 (0)131 629 0074

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