The Scottish coast is surrounded by many whisky-producing islands, or isles. On the west coast, there is an abundance of island distilleries where the isles of Mull, Skye, Arran and Jura reside, while on the north coast, the isle of Orkney is home to two distilleries. Of course, the most important island from a whisky point of view is Islay, but this one is considered as a production area on its own and we’ll be exploring that region in November!
The whiskies produced on the Islands are extremely varied and have few similarities, though they can often be distinguished from other whisky regions by generally having a smokier flavour with peaty undertones. With the exception of Orkney, each island has one distillery. There is another island that most people never hear of, and that’s the isle of Lewis, which is home to the Abhainn Dearg distillery. They’re a very small producer and their scotches are hard to come by and typically pricey; sadly we couldn’t secure one for this month’s flight.
For tickets, head over to our events page: Registration Form: October Tasting: The Islands
Jura Boutique 1995 Sauternes Finish
I actually first heard of Jura at the first Hopscotch event in Kelowna when brand ambassador Willie Tait was touring. It’s unfortunate he doesn’t attend every event since he’s quite an endearing character and so passionate about whisky! Jura have a great core range including their Superstition and Prophecy bottlings; both of which are great and affordable! The island itself is only about 500 square kilometers and with less than 200 inhabitants, the deer outnumber them 25:1!
The bottle we’re tasting is another KWM exclusive: an 18 y.o. Jura matured in Ex-Bourbon and then finished in a Sauternes cask. Sounds yummy! Only 270 bottles produced from this cask. Bottled at 58.9%, you’ll barely notice its impressive strength on the nose or palate. Each bottles is numbered and bares Willie Cochrane’s signature, (the current manager).
Tobermory distillery is a Scotch whisky distillery situated on the Hebridean island of Mull, Scotland in the village of Tobermory. The distillery, which was formerly known as Ledaig, was founded in 1798 and has changed hands several times, having undergone a number of periods of closure. The Tobermory Single Malt is distilled from unpeated malted barley and matured in oak casks for at least ten years. A heavily peated whisky is also produced, but in small quantities, named Ledaig for the original distillery name. All maturation takes place at the distillery at Deanston. Their core range includes the 10, 15 and 20 y.o. The Tobermory First Edition is a limited release bottling distilled in 1995 and bottled at Cask Strength (54.1%) in 2012. It’s matured in Ex-Bourbon Casks exclusively. This will be a light, fruity and sweet dram!
Arran 18 y.o.
Arran distillery is a whisky distillery in Lochranza, Scotland, the only distillery on the Isle of Arran. They claim to have the purest water in all of Scotland.With its mountains, lowlands, glens, lochs and royal castles, it has all the scenery of Scotland and affectionately known as ‘Scotland in Miniature’.
This limited edition release is the first 18 year old, and the oldest whisky to date to be bottled by the Isle of Arran Distillery since its founding in 1995. The whisky is a global release of just 9,000 bottles at 46%. It is the final whisky in the trilogy of 16, 17 and 18 years counting down to the launch of a core 18 year old expression. The whisky was matured exclusively in ex-Sherry Hogshead casks. FYI, there’s a pretty good chance this will be available in this year’s BC Liquor Premium Release in November!
Highland Park Dark Origins
Highland Park distillery is a Scotch whisky distillery based in Kirkwall, Orkney. It is the most northerly whisky distillery in Scotland, half a mile farther north than that at Scapa distillery. Highland Park is one of the few distilleries to malt its own barley, using locally cut peat from Hobbister Moor. The peat is then mixed with heather before being used as fuel.
The name for Dark Origins refers to the sordid history of the Highland Park Distillery, which was started by a bootlegger named Magnus Eunson. It’s a not a limited release, but a move towards a no-age-statement line. This 46.8% ABV whisky is uses “double first fill sherry casks, yet the colour remains the same as the 12 year old. The difference however, is in the nose. Expect heavy sherry on the nose layered on top of smoke and peat. From what I’ve read, this is an improvement on their core range and a great value at $90!
Scapa 16 y.o.
Scapa distillery is a Scotch whisky distillery situated on The Mainland of Orkney, Scotland on the shore of Scapa Flow near the town of Kirkwall. The Scapa 16Yr replaces the Scapa 14Yr, which replaced Scapa 12Yr. The distillery has been through periods of reduced production and closure over the last couple of decades. They had to bottle a 16 year old in 2009 because they no longer had 14 year old whisky.
Scapa is the other distillery in the Orkneys, massively outshone by its slightly more northern neighbour, Highland Park. Scapa has long had a dedicated cult following of admirers, including myself, when students got together one year and collectively got me a bottle of the 14 year old. With an extra two years in first fill American oak casks, I’m looking forward to trying this whisky!
Talisker 2002 Distiller’s Edition Amaroso Cask
Talisker distillery is an Island single malt Scotch whisky distillery in Carbost, Scotland. It’s the only distillery on the Isle of Skye. The malt is peated to a phenol level of approximately 18–22 parts per million (ppm), which is a medium peating level. Additionally, the water used for production, from Cnoc nan Speireag (Hawk Hill), flows over peat which adds additional complexity to the whisky.
The Talisker Distiller’s (DE), starts off as the distillery’s standard 10 y.o. expression before it is transferred to fortified wine casks for a finishing period. In this case that would be 10 years in Bourbon barrels, then maybe a year or so in Amoroso Sherry casks. Amoroso is just an alternate term for Medium Sherry. Talisker is one of those classic malts (sweet, smoky and peppery), often served in restaurants and bars. From reviews, expect more depth throughout, and the usual peppery notes to be more integrated than that of the 10 y.o.