Islay is so well known for it’s world famous Malt Whisky distilleries, all 8 of them and 9 if you include the neighbouring island of Jura. This information serves as an overture to what you will find, if you are so lucky, to visit Islay… it is a working Island. Unlike it’s colleagues Arran, Mull and Skye, Islay’s main industry is not tourism, so when you arrive on Islay you are instantly aware that you are in the minority as a tourist. You will hardly notice a Guest house sign, and no ribbon development of hotels on the sea front. Instead you will search out Country Houses offering sublime accommodation, furnished with family antiques and country tweeds. Islay has more 5 star Guesthouses than in any part of Scotland, adding to the prestige of the island. Hotels are proud to display their wares of golden bottles of Islay’s whiskies, and guests revel in the story behind every dram.
Agriculture is the other main industry of Islay. A limestone rift running through the island ensures ample supply of grazing, to produce quality stock. Farmers travel from all over the country to buy stock from Islay at the annual sales. This is an event not to be missed, and tales from the sales spill over to the hotels in the evenings, giving a warm community spirit, long lost in our towns and cities. Green fields are dotted with white sheep, and behind every gate a cow will be watching you. Draff, the by product of the distilleries, is fed to the cows, again re-enforcing that only the best quality will do for Islay and it’s inhabitants.
Luxury is the buzz word of Islay, whether you are whisky buffs, Bird watchers, or Foodies. Islay is the only one of the famous 4 islands with an airport. Well a working island just has to have one, doesn’t it? A half an hour direct flight from Glasgow international airport. Rich and famous know the secret, and can be transported from city life to the tranquil land of Islay in moments, “it’s their bolt hole” one was heard to say.
Islay is the supreme champion of them all, and quietly sits enchanting it’s guests, and confidently luring them back year after year. Islay is easy to get to, about 4 ferries a day from the Mull of Kintyre, and about 2 flights a day from Glasgow. Islay doesn’t have to shout about itself, it doesn’t have to big itself up, it is pure unashamed luxury and it knows it. Each of the villages from Ballygrant southwards offers the highest quality accommodation. Hotels and Guesthouses are there to find, luxury being the common thread. Round every corner there is a distillery, beside each horizon there is a wonderful beach, behind each village a hill to climb.