Single Malt Scotch Whisky

There are more than 900 islands scattered off Scotland’s coastline, around 70 of which are habited – and fewer still have a distillery. The islands of Arran, Mull, Jura, Skye, Raasay, Lewis and Orkney produce an eclectic mix of whisky styles, from light citrus to full-on peat smoke.

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IslandSingle Malt Scotch Whisky

Scotland’s islands were obvious locations for distilleries, especially at a time when illegal operations were the norm. Just a scattered handful of these far-flung producers remain now– although a few newcomers hint at an island distilling renaissance.

Island whiskies vary from light and delicate to robust and full-bodied Island whiskies vary from light and delicate to robust and full-bodied

Far and wide

The Islands classification of single malt whiskies is a category of convenience, since these distilleries officially fall under the Highland denomination. They’re also the most scattered collection of distillery locations, from Arran in the south to Lewis in the north-west and Orkney.

Inner strength

If such a disparate collection of distilleries has a heart, it is the Inner Hebrides, which apart from Islay includes Skye, home to Talisker’s and Torabhaig’s maritime peat; Jura’s eponymous malty slow burner; and on Mull, gale-lashed Tobermory’s fruity malt, alongside its smoky alter ego, Ledaig.

Northern exposure

Moving north and east and crossing the Pentland Firth, we hit Orkney and a contrasting pair of malts: Highland Park’s richly sweet peatiness and Scapa’s gentle fruit.

Orkney is home to two distilleries: Highland Park and Scapa Orkney is home to two distilleries: Highland Park and Scapa

Spirit of renewal

New distillery openings on Raasay, Unst, Shetland, and Barra signal a promising future for Scottish island whisky. With stills firing and warehouses slowly filling, we can expect plenty of new styles and flavours from these exciting islands.

Did you know?

  • Highland Park was the world’s most northerly whisky distillery until Sweden’s Highland Coast distillery opened in 2010
  • Talisker is currently the largest Island distillery, with a capacity of 2.6m litres
  • Abhainn Dearg on Lewis is well over 100 times smaller than Talisker, with production of just 20,000 litres

Typical Character and Style of Island

  • Smoke Smoke
  • Brine Brine
  • Oil Oil
  • Black Pepper Black Pepper
  • Honey Honey

Distilleries in Island


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