Old & Rare Whisky

Islay Single Malts

The Island of Islay is famous for its intensely flavoursome and often heavily peated whiskies. The bold nature of these single malts makes them immensely popular among collectors today. But ironically enough, they were often misunderstood historically. Some bottlings now regarded as classics of the 20th century were only produced in small quantities and little preserved on their release – which makes rare expressions like these all the more special.

Bunnahabhain

1968 Auld Acquaintance

70cl / 43.8%

An iconic Islay malt, distilled on New Year’s Eve 1968 and aged for more than three decades in sherry casks. “This is a true golden vintage for Bunnahabhain and a very special whisky,” says Jason Vaswani, The Whisky Exchange’s head buyer of old and rare spirits. Despite its pronounced sherry influence, the Auld Acquaintance still brings to mind fresh stone fruit and quince that mingle with mature notes of leather, coffee and cigars.

Caol Ila

20 Year Old 150th Anniversary

70cl / 57.86%

Early vintages of ‘new’ Caol Ila – made after the distillery was rebuilt in 1972 – possess the citrussy, coastal profile we find in modern expressions but with a funkier side that’s more unusual these days. Bottled in 1996, this flew largely under the radar on its release but has since developed a strong reputation. The back label features the names of everyone that worked at the distillery at the time, a wonderful tribute to Islay’s historic whisky makers.

Bowmore

1963 30 Year Old 30th Anniversary

70cl / 50%

For many whisky lovers, 1960s Bowmore is the pinnacle of single malt, filled with light peat smoke, vivid tropical fruit and near-limitless complexity. It’s unusual to see Bowmore distilled in 1963, the year that Stanley P Morrison acquired the distillery, especially one bottled at higher proof. Under Morrison’s ownership, Bowmore produced whiskies that made it one of the most famous names in the business and helped to establish single malt as a category. One for the ages.

Lagavulin

16yo Bottled 1980s

100cl / 43%

One of the earliest bottlings of the iconic Lagavulin 16 Year Old, created when the distillery was owned by White Horse distillers. “Lagavulin 16 is beloved today,” Jason Vaswani tells us “But these older releases were really mind blowing when they first arrived. People couldn’t believe the quality. They converted a lot of people to Islay malts.” A whisky of exceptional balance and roundness, this would make a real treat for any Islay fan.

Laphroaig

1974 31yo Sherry Cask

70cl / 49.7%

Laphroaig has evolved a great deal over the years. Expressions distilled in the 1970s are quite different from the intensely smoky bottlings enjoyed today. This peerless 1974 vintage created for La Maison du Whisky shows intense tropical fruits which harmonise perfectly with an old-fashioned sherry cask influence. The peat smoke is subdued, as was the style at the time, and further mellowed by more than three decades in oak. A once in a lifetime dram – Islay whisky at its best.

The Whisky Exchange

Since 1999, The Whisky Exchange has worked to source the finest spirits for our customers. We pride ourselves on offering an unrivalled selection of historical bottlings like these, as curated by our expert buying team.