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Island Whisky Distilleries, Scotland

Friday, October 16, 2009

This evening, I am continuing my Scotch Whisky theme with a summary of Scotland's island distilleries. This excludes Islay which is usually considered a separate region.

Possibly due to poor grain growing conditions, historically the islands ( e.g. Uists, Mull, Skye, Lewis, Arran) had a low incidence of whisky distilling. Only 13 distilleries were ever licensed in the Hebrides, excluding Islay.

Below is provided information on the four distilleries currently operating, i.e.Talisker, Tobermory, Isle of Jura and Isle of Arran.

Talisker on the scenic Isle of Skye was founded in 1830 and is now owned by drinks conglomerate, Diageo. Originally, the spirit was triple distilled but, since 1928, the spirit has been subject to double distilling in common with the majority of the Scotch whisky industry. There are five stills which produce some 1.5m litres of alcohol which eventually its way into blends such as Johnnie Walker plus some interesting single malts such as Talisker's 10 year old 45.8pct and Talisker 1986 Distiller's Edition 45.8pct. The product is medium peated. Distillery tours are available but, unfortunately, photography is restricted and hence video covers external views.


Tobermory Distillery can be found on the main street of the capital of Mull, an island off the west coast which can be accessed by ferry or air. The distillery was founded 1797 and is now owned by Burns Stewart.This distillery has witnessed a roller-coaster history with periods of closure lasting up to 40 years. The current distillery dates from its rebuilding and re-equipping in 1972 and boasts four bulbous stills. The island water from the Mishnish Loch which is used by the distillery is high in peat but the barley is unpeated. The final product-Tobermory 10 year old 40pct.-contains a hint of peat.

Isle of Jura Distillery dates from 1810 and is now owned by Fortune Brands. Following a long period of closure between WW1 and 1958 the distillery was resuscitated by initiative of local businessmen with double the distilling capacity. Jura now produces a 10 year old at 40pct and a 16 year old at 40pct which are popular with aficionados of whisky.

Isle of Arran Distillery was founded as recently as 1995 by Harold Currie, a former Managing Director of Chivas Brothers. The malt is unpeated and water sourced from the Eason Bioroch Burn (stream) close by. One of the early single malts was a five year old which has been well received by the market.

The idiosyncrasies and histories of these distilleries add to the allure of the malts they produce. I still have to visit Jura and Tobermory distilleries in the course of my touring activities.


posted by Catswhiskers @ 12:08 PM 


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