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There are nearly 800 islands scattered off the northwestern coast of Scotland, only a few of which are home to distilleries. While they are officially part of the Highlands region and largely lumped together for geographical ease, these islands are known for producing whiskies with unique smokey, maritime undertones, making them a style all their own. 

Islands in this region include Arran in the Firth of Clyde, Skye, Mull and Jura in the Inner Hebrides, and the Orkney Islands to the north, each a specialist in using their unique resources to produce distinct malts that set them apart from the rest of Scotland. 

No matter what your Scotch preferences may be, Scotland’s labyrinthine archipelago of islands and their distilleries offer something unique sure to suit a variety of pallets. Browse the House of Whisky’s extensive selection of Island whiskies below, or place your order today.

Island whiskies feature characters and flavours as diverse as the landscapes of the islands themselves, with the sea having an underlying influence on all the whiskies in this region to create the general character that sets them apart. Like the unique countrysides they are located in, each whisky offers something sure to suit everyone’s taste.

To the very north lies Orkney, home to the Highland Park distillery and its signature coastal single malts. One of the most remote Scotch distilleries in the world, Highland Park is known for the malty, smokey character of their whiskies, with many of their malts boasting notes of honey, heather, honeysuckle, and orange. 

It is one of the few distilleries to malt its own barley and has access to unique heather peat from its private moor that is used to dry out the malted barley. The distillery’s northern location and cool, maritime climate also allow the casks to gently interact with the spirit, developing the rich, world-renowned whisky that casual drinkers and experts alike continue to praise.

On the western edge on the Isle of Skye, in the shadow of the Cuillin, lies the Talisker distillery, known for producing an award-winning Island malt with plenty of character. The whiskies from this distillery are frequently matured in American Oak casks, with the malt usually peated at a medium level. The process water used in Talisker whiskey is drawn from Cnoc nan Speireag (Hawk Hill), the same spring that has fed the distillery since its 1831 establishment. This water flows over peat, which adds a soft complexity to the dram. 

The Talisker family all boast a peated, smokey flavour gained from the peat burned during the malting process. These expressions also possess notes of brine, white pepper, soft fruits, and cereals, as well as a rich vanilla flavour in the older variations.

North of Islay and Jura, the Tobermory distillery is the only distillery on the island of Mull. The distillery produces two different whiskies; the unpeated offering sold as the eponymous Tobermory and the heavily peated expression sold as Ledaig. The Tobermory dram is sweet, thick, and slightly herbal, with notes of leather, fruitcake, and brine. 

Ledaig is distilled using heavily peated malted barley to produce a highly distinctive dram. As the barley is malted, peat is burned and used to dry the barley. The reek of the peat is absorbed by the barley and remains throughout mashing, fermentation, and distillation. As a result of this process, the heavily peated malt produces a smokey, earthy taste with notes of rubber, wet wool, and a touch of vanilla.

With less than 200 people living on the Isle of Jura, the island’s only distillery is at the heart of the community. The island’s eponymous distillery has historically produced peated malts similar in style to Islay whiskies. Jura’s expressions now range from lightly to heavily peated, with some boasting nutty, sweet flavours, subtle maritime notes, and an oily character between them. 

The Isle of Arran hosts its only eponymous distillery near the picturesque town of Lochranza. Opened in 1995, The Arran opened their first cask in 1998 after three years of maturation. This was the first legally produced dram on Arran for over 160 years. Now, over 20 different expressions of The Arran are on the market today, including the woody and widely enjoyed Arran 10-Year-Old

Arran is known for its malty, rich whiskies, with its warm microclimate, pure water, and the flow of the Gulf Stream all contributing to the creation of this characterful malt.

While whiskies from the Islands have no distinct style and are as varied as the islands themselves, peat and brine have long been associated with Island malts. The flavours of these whiskies are usually as rugged and diverse as the Island landscapes, making them perfect for those seeking anything from wild, volcanic notes to fruity, nutty drams.

Between them, Island whiskies champion the following flavours in their drams:

  • Brine.
  • Oil. 
  • Honey. 
  • Black Pepper. 
  • Heather.
  • Smoke.

From the rich, malty character of Arran to the light peatiness of Jura, Scotland’s island region boasts a diverse range of flavours sure to sate the palate of every Scotch enthusiast. At The House of Whisky, we stock a comprehensive range of whiskies from the islands, all available for online purchase and delivery.

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