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9 delicious reasons to visit Islay - the whisky isle

Islay whisky casks


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There are 9 delicious reasons to visit the wild and beautiful island of Islay in the Scottish Southern Hebrides; from Caol Ila in the rugged north east to Ardbeg in the wind swept south east; from Bruichladdich in the picturesque Rhinns to Bowmore situated right in the heart of the island, there's a world famous distillery to explore around every corner (almost!).

You can travel to Islay onboard one of our ferries from either Kennacraig in Kintyre or Oban, with the quickest route taking just over 2 hours. We're proud to support local food and drink suppliers on board, and have a great selection of local ales and malts for you to enjoy during your journey. Find out more about our on board offerings here: On board with CalMac

So, without further ado, here's a run down of the world famous distilleries you can expect to find when you travel to Islay...


1. Caol Ila Distillery, Caol Ila, Islay | (1.1 miles from Port Askaig)

Caol Ila Distillery is a hidden gem that has been nestled in the north eastern coastline of Islay since 1846. Just over 1 mile from Port Askaig Ferry Terminal (take the first right), Caol Ila Distillery is a must see if not only for the fantastic drams but for the unbeatable view of 'the sound' and the 'Paps of Jura' from the Still House.


2. Ardnahoe Distillery, Islay | (2.9 miles from Port Askaig)

The newest of the famed Islay Distilleries, Ardnahoe is nestled in between Coal Ila and Bunnahabhain on the banks of the Sound with spectacular views over to the Paps of Jura. While the distillery itself is still under construction you can visit the Distillery Shop in Bridgend Square. Find out more at


3. Bunnahabhain Distillery, Bunnahabhain, Islay | (4.6 miles from Port Askaig)

Almost hidden on the north eastern coast of Islay, down a winding single track road Bunnahabhain has an old world wonder about it that will transport you back to days past. You will enjoy striking views, rich island history and of course, a few great drams on your visit.


4. Kilchoman Distillery, Rockside, Islay | (16.7 miles from Port Askaig)

The newest working distillery on Islay, Kilchoman is a small farm distillery full of character and charm.  Slightly farther off the beaten track but well worth the trip- there's a great café, gift shop, and horse riding centre if you have brought the family along too!


5. Bruichladdich Distillery, Bruichladdich, Islay | (13.5 miles from Port Askaig)

A striking distillery that is hard to ignore when travelling through the small village of Bruichladdich on The Rhinns, Bruichladdich Distillery is a must see. Famed for both fantastic whisky and Islay's 'The Botanist' Gin there is something for everyone here. Check out our short film of our friend Adam, Assistant distillery manager at Bruichladdich distillery.


6. Bowmore Distillery, Bowmore, Islay | (10.4 miles from Port Ellen)

Enjoying the accolade of being Islay's oldest working distillery, Bowmore Distillery has sat comfortably within the islands capital since 1779. With warehouses below sea level for parts of the year, this distinctive island dram is unique, delicious and full of Islay's history, heritage and character.


7. Laphroaig Distillery, Laphroaig, Islay | (1.8 miles from Port Ellen)

The first of 3 distilleries you will find on 'Whisky Mile' just a few miles outside of Port Ellen, Laphroaig is a classic island distillery, with a lot of character.  It's hard to find a friendlier place to stop, whether it's just for a wee look around the museum or to sample the fantastic whisky, you are sure to have a memorable visit.


8. Lagavulin Distillery, Lagavulin, Islay | (2.7 miles from Port Ellen)

As you enter the small village of Lagavulin the striking white wash building and named wall is pretty much the first thing you see, along with the majestic red chimney and traditional pagoda roof.  This distillery is filled with charm from the traditional 'Dramming Room' inside, to the wooden pier that looks out toward Dunyvaig Castle, once a stronghold for the Lord of the Isles. Try the Lagavulin 16 year old to discover the true taste of this Islay Classic.


9. Ardbeg Distillery, Ardbeg, Islay | (3.6 miles from Port Ellen)

One of the quirkiest distilleries on Islay, Ardbeg always pushes the boundaries with their intense peaty offerings crafted on the weather beaten south eastern coast of Islay. With 200 years of practice, an Ardbeg dram is sure not to disappoint - this really is a dram that's been crafted by people who care.


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