Distilleries & tours

Islay peat and water

Much of Islay is peat. Layer on layer of sphagnum mosses and other vegetation have been rotting away to create the compact black banks of peat used by the whisky industry. Most of Islay’s water is brown, including water in the burns. Winter gales drive salt spray far inland. This saturates the peat, which is dried again by the briny, seaweedy breeze. All these characteristics go into the whiskies of Islay.

Strong flavour

Some of Islay’s single malts are the strongest-flavoured of all malt whiskies, a property that endears them to many enthusiasts. Most ‘malting’, part of the whisky production process, is done at Port Ellen Maltings to each distillery’s specification (peat level). Only Bowmore, Laphroaig and Kilchoman have their own malting floors.