Intro By BillieBLVD
Everyone has a bucketlist of things they need to do before the final checkout. For me one of the primary things that I must do is to visit the distilleries of Islay Scotland. Islay Scotch is my favorite and the vistas of the mountains, the horizon, and the sea all contribute to the flavor profile in the form of terroir.
Read More From The Globe and Mail
Whisky aficionados have opened their minds – and palates – to spirits from locations as diverse as Japan’s Mount Kaikomagatake and Gimli in Manitoba. But, as Danny Sinopoli discovers sampling his way through Tain, Islay and St. Andrews, there’s still nothing like a dram of Scotch from the source
The plane from Glasgow banks gently to the right as it starts its descent into Islay’s airport, giving the passengers on my side of the aisle a breathtaking view of the island’s rugged coast. Competing with the blue-green water and craggy cliffs, however, are some equally eye-catching man-made features: the names of world-famous whisky brands – ARDBEG, LAGAVULIN, LAPHROAIG – emblazoned in huge black letters on the walls of shoreside distilleries. Sea views and single malts are trademarks of Islay, which is almost as rife with top Scotch makers as it is with gulls. And while I appreciate dramatic vistas, I have flown in more to sip than to sightsee, one of the growing number of whisky fans seeking to savour the spirits at its source.
All over Scotland, whisky distilleries have become major tourist draws, attracting around 1.5 million visitors in 2014, according to the Edinburgh-based Scotch Whisky Association. My own single-malt pilgrimage, which will stretch from the Highlands to the Inner Hebrides and end in the town of St. Andrews, begins some 300 kilometres northeast of Islay, on a platform at Edinburgh’s Waverley station. It is from there that I set out on a four-hour train trip to Inverness, then travel another hour by car to Tain, a 1,000-year-old town in the Highlands and the home of Glenmorangie, the venerable distillery with the tallest whisky stills north of Hadrian’s Wall.