Šljivovica, Anyone?

I’ve written about getting to Islay (and I may also write about getting back) but what’s on offer on the island?

I had 48 hours there, so it was enough time to get a flavour without being long enough for a proper appreciation. It was mid May, so the days were long. On the other hand the weather was a bit… Scottish. The wind did mean my visit was midge free – another positive!

The whole Islay experience is too much for a single blog post, so this is part 1.

If you like malt whisky – of the island variety, which is very different to the likes of Speyside – it must be heaven. I do like it, but I was in the middle of one of my regular dry spells so a whiff of the angels’ share was good enough for me.

You’ll find 8 distilleries on Islay, and a ninth is being built. With a tiny bit of effort (5 minutes on a ferry and a few minutes on a bus) you could also visit the one on Jura.

Jura Ferry

Lagavulin is across the road from the bed and breakfast I stayed in. Laphroaig and Ardbeg are an easy stroll from there. Bowmore is smack in the of the town of the same name – you’ll pass it. Bruichladdich is on the road to Port Charlotte.

Off the beaten track, you’ll find Kilchoman. It’s worth a special mention as it’s Scotland’s second smallest distillery, and it’s very new. It started production in 2005 and is on a farm. The cow shed was converted.


To get there you leave the Port Charlotte road for the single track road to Machir Bay for about 5 miles. I had coffee and a scone in their cafe – a pleasant spot and excellent home baking.


Bunnahabhain is also hidden from view along a single track road, but on the other side of the island facing Jura.


The only one I didn’t see is Caol Ila, which is also away from the main roads not far from Port Askaig.

I sometimes wondered if I was “missing out” by not doing a couple of tours and sampling some of the goodies. Everyone else seemed to be getting stuck in! Well it’ll still be there next time I visit.


I also have to admit having done more than my fair share of distillery visits – Strathisla, Glenfiddich, Glen Moray and Glenfarclas on Speyside, Blair Atholl in Pitlochry, Bushmills in Northern Ireland, and even the Père Magloire Calvados distillery in Normandy.

I shouldn’t forget Keti’s dad’s home made šljivovica (plum brandy) sampled in his house near Despotovac (Serbia) during a massive thunderstorm. Long story, that… My eyesight may recover eventually.

ⓒ iain taylor, 2017

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