For whisky lovers, Islay is in a league of its own.
This small Scottish isle is home to just 3,000 residents but its eight distilleries have made it eminently famous, and for good reason. Laphroaig, Bowmore, Ardbeg, Lagavulin, Caol Ila, Bunnahabhain, Bruichladdich and Kilchoman produce peated whiskies throughout the year that are highly prized by enthusiasts around the world. Not to mention Port Ellen, the legendary distillery closed in 1983 whose recent announcement that it is to reopen caused a wave of excitement in the small microcosm of Islayphiles.
The Islay single malts have been by La Maison du Whisky’s side right from the start. In the 1960s, we imported the first Lagavulins to France. At the time, the French palate was not particularly receptive to peat… In fact, a customer even returned a case of Lagavulin 12 Year Old to us with the note «how can you sell this?» In the 1970s, it was the turn of the excellent Bowmore expressions perfectly marrying peat and sherry, and then Ardbeg with its inimitable notes of liquorice stick. Since the 1990s, independent bottlings of Caol Ila have always been found on the shelves of La Maison du Whisky. So far, we have listed almost 400!
Caol Ila 14 yo 1974
gordon & macphail
Islay, Single Malt – 40%, 75cl
This 14 year old Caol Ila was bottled by Scotland’s oldest independent bottler, Gordon & MacPhail, for the legendary Connoisseurs Choice range. Extremely refined, this version reveals Caol Ila in a particularly complex light. Although, from start to finish, smoke and peat are constantly present, it is with subtle salty, medicinal, saline, ashy, mineral and even empyreumatic nuances that it slips into the palette of flavours and aromas. In the end, they gracefully take the leading role in every part of the tasting.
Caol Ila 15 yo 1991
Islay, Single Malt – 58.3%, 70cl
Released as part of the prestigious Sestante collection, this 15 year old Caol Ila is one of the first bottlings from Massimo Righi, the founder of the Italian independent botler Whisky Antique. This absolutely magnificent version is so concentrated that, even if you take your time, you will never be able to take everything in in just one tasting. But it would be impossible not to fall for the charm of its ashy, salty, spicy, fruity and honeyed palette of flavours and aromas that draws on contrasts to help moor itself to its home port of Caol Ila.
On the shelves, there are more than 300 bottles from Islay.
Ardbeg 8 yo 1991
Islay, Single Malt – 43%, 70cl
Limited Edition of 1638 bottles
Islay, Single Malt – 46%, 70cl
Limited Edition of 8450 bottles
PORT ELLEN 25 yo 1982
CASK STRENGTH COLLECTION
Islay, Single Malt – 60.1%, 70cl
Limited Edition of 486 bottles