Wednesday, March 6, 2013

If you are a Whisky drinker you might be interested in taking a nice tasting trip this year. You can’t beat the taste of a good Scottish whisky. There is the Islay Single Malt Whisky that is aged for over 10 years before swallowed. Brands like Ardbeg or Aphroaig are distinctively Scottish. But to true scotch drinkers just where the whisky comes from makes all the difference.
On the edge of Scotland’s coastline lies a small island called Islay. Islay, is the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. Known as "The Queen of the Hebrides", it lies in Argyll just south west of Jura and around 40 kilometers north of the Irish coast. The island is inhabited by 3,457 people. It is the best place to quietly disappear for a while from everyone and just have fun in a beautiful romantic place.
It has sleepy harbors and flowery meadows and ancient villages that surround castles yet this peaceful virtually uninhabited place is part of a global industry. Where Jamaica is known for its Rums and Madeira is known for its Sherry’s this island is famous for its unique tasting of Scotch whiskies known as Isla Malts. Even with only about 3 to 4 thousand residents, the island is home to 9 major brands of whisky 2 of which were already mentioned here but there are the Laphroaig, Caolila, Bowmore, Kilchoman, Lagavulin and other brands made on the island. Here whisky distilleries are thriving.
One of the older distilleries is the brand Ardbeg. The process is complicated. They have mills that date back to 1921 that they work twice a day and the distillation process has not changed much since then. All they are allowed to use there is water, malted barley and yeast. It is the only things they put in the whiskey. The yeast and water are mixed with the barley then fermented for a couple of days in enormous casks known as Mash Tuns. They then work them with 23,500 liters in each wash batch before it is distilled in giant copper stills and finally aged in wooden barrels for 10 years. I always wondered why anyone would go through so much trouble just to get a little buzz on.
Ultimately it is the malted barley they use there that separates the wheat. So, why is the whisky so great there? You can smell it. It has a peat smoke richness about it that creates a heavily peated malt. It is the heaviest peated malt of any whiskey in Scotland. So, what is peat? It is the soil on the island that is usually burned as a fuel in Scotland’s Western isles.
Thousands attend various tasting and classes at the various distilleries. The depth of flavor from the whiskeys from this region is unmatched with anything else from anywhere else. The sales figures are the best proof of worthiness of anything you might want to sell. The United States alone imported more than 1 Billion dollars of the stuff. Fans of the festival might argue that once you are back home, it is not quite as much fun to drink it. So, grab your girl and take her to the festival this summer and enjoy.

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