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Whisky Distilleries in the Inner and Outer Hebridean Islands
Long popular with ornithologists, climbers and anglers, the Hebridean Islands are also an excellent destination for connoisseurs of the amber spirit. Recent years have seen various new additions to the ranks of whisky producers, too.To discover more, please read on. Below, we introduce some of the most romantic whisky distilleries on the Hebrides.
Travelling to the Hebridean Islands
If you want a memorable journey, beautiful natural surroundings and an opportunity to discover the whisky trail for yourself, the Inner or Outer Hebrides are unmissable. In terms of journey time, it’s probably a good idea to allow the best part of a week to discover the charm of these islands on the edge of Britain.
Once there, you will find a blend of ancient history, unique culture and stunning scenery. Visitors can expect a warm welcome from the islanders.
The Inner Hebrides
For drivers arriving in Scotland, a road bridge means that ferries are no longer necessary to reach the Isle of Skye. Nonetheless, this picturesque island still serves as the gateway for sea routes to the Isles of Harris, Lewis and the Uists.
If you are travelling to Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, the nearest port of departure is Oban for the short but scenic sailing. Alternatively, for sea crossings further north or west, you could continue to Kennacraig in Argyll or Mallaig and Ullapool in the Highlands.
Isle of Skye
Revered as the oldest continuous producer on the Hebrides, the Talisker is in the village of Carbost. Its characteristically long rectangular building is adjacent to ample parking. Just across the road, the jetty lets you take in the waterside views across the loch.
Isle of Raathsay
One of Scotland’s newest, the splendidly restored Torabhaig distillery stands in an old farmstead near a pure supply of island spring water. The nineteenth-century building contains traditional washbacks and characteristic copper stills. Nearby, the volcanic geology ensures a continuous supply of pure water for the much appreciated and lightly-peated scotch.
Isle of Mull
This distillery has closed and re-opened several times since it first opened in 1798. Now upgraded and more productive than ever, the site can produce a million litres of new-make spirit a year in its four Oregon pine washbacks and copper spirit stills.
Tobermory single malt is unpeated and matures for at least ten years, over on the mainland. In contrast, its unique and heavily peated whisky, Ledaig, is named after the original distillery.
Isle of Islay
Beautifully set on the coast, this distillery has survived its ups and downs over the years. Nowadays, its award-winning liquors have assured this company of its rightful place in whisky experts’ estimation worldwide.
A trip to this fascinating installation allows one to find out more about an irrepressible spirit that battled against the odds to renew itself. As the company puts it, some people travel to Ardbeg along the winding road from Port Ellen. Others follow their nose, their destiny or the advice of a good friend.
Hailed as well world’s most distinctive single malts, dedicated islanders have long cherished their centuries-old craft when producing Laphroaig. This exceptional liquor is the result of careful production by skilled, dedicated staff.
An ornamental copper still welcomes visitors arriving at the Bruichladdich. Well known for single malt scotches with peaty notes, this distillery uses locally grown and organic cereal crops to produce its mash. Inside, the meticulously maintained piping and welcoming bar provide plenty of photo opportunities.
Situated in Port Askaig, this option offers unparalleled views across the bay. Cask-filled yards and an adjacent beach add to the photogenic experience. Notably, at the time of writing (May 2020), tastings and tours may be subject to Coronavirus pandemic restrictions.
Ardnahoe Distillery, Islay
Opened in April 2019, this distillery boasts beautiful views over the Sound of Islay. Why not enjoy a tasting as you admire the seascape towards the rugged mountains in the south of Mull? You will find Ardnahoe just a short distance north of Port Askaig.
Caol Ila and Lagavulin Distilleries
Before leaving Islay, we should note that the Caol Ila centre near Port Askaig is temporarily closed (2021) due to reconstruction work. The good news is that their signature whisky is still available at their sister distillery, the Lagavulin, in the Malt Mill Bar.
The Lagavulin is near a village of the same name in the south of Islay, east of Port Ellen. It is convenient for the Laphroaig distillery and the mossy ruins of Dunyvaig Castle, too.
The Outer Hebrides
The Outer Hebrides offers visitors a voyage of discovery like no other. Because this mountainous archipelago is off the beaten path, it is particularly appealing for those who love the great outdoors and bracingly fresh air. The islands stretch approximately 130 miles from the Butt of Lewis southwards to Barra Head. As well as ferry sailings across the Inner Seas – also known as The Minch – your travel choices include scheduled flights from the Scottish mainland.
As you arrive, you’ll notice the panoramic views. Grassy hillsides and machair plains give way to beautiful bays where unspoilt white sandy beaches contrast with the turquoise of calm seas or mighty ocean. Unsurprisingly, West Beach on Berneray Island is Lonely Planet’s third-best beach in Europe. Without a doubt, visitors will appreciate the pale sand, refreshing sea breeze and wildflowers with butterflies in abundance.
Isle of Harris
Set on the hillside overlooking the port, the Isle of Harris Distillery now produces gin, too. For a bite to eat after your whisky tasting, its canteen is open to the public and serves fresh local produce, highly rated by travellers.
Isle of Barra
In the small town of Castlebay, you will find the Isle of Barra Distillers. Started by locals Michael and Katie Morrison it is a family-orientated distillery with a large emphasis on supporting sustainable practices for the local community. They produce both whisky and gin, they will open a significantly larger distillery and visitor centre in 2025 following a £12 million rebuild.