The Islays
Bruichladdich - not necessarily talked of as often as the likes of Lagavulin and Laphroaig, Bruichladdich is, nonetheless a good beginning to an exploration of the malts. The only distillery not actually hard up against the coastline, Bruichladdich is a lighter Islay, less peaty than others.
Caol Ila - probably my favourite. Caol Ila has a body and finish to it like no other Islay. If the strongest characteristic (probably unfairly) of a classic Islay is its tendency towards an antiseptic palate, Caol Ila is altogether more"oily" in its character. Beautiful malt!
Bowmore- if the Islay malts differ
from one another in terms of geographic location, Bowmore could be said to sit somewhere between the lighter Northern malts and those such as Ardbeg and Laphroaig in the south of the island. The 10-year old has a hint of the smokiness to it along with a combination of almost salty-seaweediness to it. Well worth the exploration.

Laphroaig's peat bogs on the Glenmachrie Peat Moss and its water source, the Kilbride Dam, combine in the distilling process to produce the characteristically peaty and full-coloured whisky that features in the top five best-selling malts today.
Its unique taste saw it prosper in America during the Prohibition (1920-1933) where its import was permitted as a 'medicinal spirit' - aqua vitae indeed!
A hint of sherry quickly gives way to the Islay intensity and distinctively oily body with a big peaty-smoky flavour. A round, dry and warming finish renders Laphroaig the perfect night-cap, but not one for the weak-kneed...
Ardbeg - Good to see the Ardbeg back! Production began again in 1989 and we are now seeing the re-appearance of what is effectively the 10-year old. Beautifully peaty and antiseptic and rich in flavour, the Ardbeg is one that holds a special place for malt drinkers. A heavy duty, beautiful whisky.
Lagavulin - a powerful malt. Uncompromising in its palate and immensely "dry" nature. Lagavulin separates the men from the boys in terms of its attack on the senses. Not a criticism - it's a beautiful malt - but take care if introducing  a friend to Islay malts by way of this giant. The view could go one of two ways -- either way you will be remembered for the introduction! Straightforwardly a massive, salty, incredibly dry malt whisky that reflects all the characteristics of an Islay - in spades!
Bunnahabhain - probably the lightest of the Islays, Bunnahabhain has less of the peatiness and is sweeter than most. Whatever you do while experimenting, ignore the song on the back of the bottle. Some things are designed to give us a bad name! The malt itself is gentle, almost refreshing in style and another good introduction to the style
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