Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Drinking Islay Whiskies

Which bar has the most whiskies on Islay?

The Ballygrant Inn is the leader, though the Bowmore Hotel collection is vast, and they are both ahead of the chasing pack.  For returning visitors, The Ballygrant Inn is now home to the world famous gantry from Duffy’s Bar in the Lochside Hotel, which is carved with the names of the individual distilleries.

Who makes the peatiest whisky?

The parts per million (ppm) of the malted barley on the bottle does not necessarily carry over into the final spirit, so for peat’s sake, do yourself a favor and order up a few drams to undertake your own comparison. The Bowmore Hotel and the Ballygrant Inn have dozens of bottles from each distillery, so let the battle commence between Octomore 6.3 and Ardbeg SN2015 Committee Release.

I’m just not sure peat is for me, so what should I drink?

There are plenty of unpeated and lightly-peated whiskies to explore from Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, and Jura. When you are ready, try a Bowmore 12 year old or a sweet bourbon cask Kilchoman and ease yourself in.

Where can I drink Black Bowmore?

There is Black Bowmore 1964 42 year old (Whisky Advocate rated 97) at the Lochside Hotel, Bowmore. You can drink your way down the bottle for £250 a dram.

Can you recommend any peaty Islay blends or blended malts?

Sure, try Johnnie Walker Double Black, Black Bottle, Big Peat, Elements of Islay Peat, Islay Mist, Compass Box Peat Monster, or Smokey Joe.

I would like to try last year’s Bowmore Mizunara Cask Finish!

While it lasts, head to the bar in the back of the Bowmore Hotel.

Aside from hotel bars, I just want to go to the pub. Where would you recommend?

Visit An Tígh Seínnse in Portnahaven and watch the seals slide off the rocks on the shore with a pint in your hand. The whisky selection is modest, the food is fine and filling, and the atmosphere and view are truly memorable. Elsewhere, the Ardview Inn in Port Ellen is a fine establishment popular with locals, with an Islay whisky selection that punches way above its league.

Where can I drink Ardbeg 1965?

There is a bottle open at the Lochside Hotel, Bowmore. It’s true. Go see for yourself!

I’ve never tried Port Ellen whisky before, can you point me in the right direction?

There are seven official releases at the Lochside Hotel, including the 11th release, and a similar number on the shelf at the Ballygrant Inn, including the 13th release, along with a Gordon and MacPhail Rare Old Port Ellen 1979. The Port Charlotte Hotel has a Port Ellen Connoisseur’s Choice 1982 and more. There are a few bottles of Port Ellen for sale in the Lagavulin distillery shop, and at the time of visit the Islay Whisky Shop in Bowmore had four bottles, including a Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask Port Ellen 27 year old.

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