Islay had always been an Island in Scotland we had wanted to visit and it was definitely worth the wait! Stunning scenery, impressive golf and some of the world’s most famous whisky distilleries; ticked all the boxes for a memorable visit.
Travelling to Islay
As we had limited time we opted for the 1st early morning (7:30am) ferry from Kennacraig to Port Ellen. This did mean a 3am departure from Edinburgh to get there in time but it was worth it. The sun was shining, the sailing was smooth and after 2 hours you could see the huge white distilleries along the rugged coastline of Islay. There are many fantastic cycle paths around the island and the roads are not too challenging. However, if you plan on enjoying some of the local whisky during your visit to Islay, due to Scotland’s drink drive laws we suggest hiring a driver guide. Alternatively you can book taxi transfers, which are reasonably priced.
Whisky in Islay
Within a few miles of Port Ellen, you reach Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Lagavulin; some of the most famous distilleries in the world. Together they produce millions of litres of spirit each year and are all within a stone’s throw from each other. After spending a few hours visiting the distilleries we headed to the nearest town of Bowmore, which has its own rather large and famous distillery of its own. The whisky and the food was sublime. We had then arranged to return to Lagavulin after lunch and enjoy a Warehouse Demonstration. The tasting takes place in one of the distilleries dunnage warehouses. Here you are presented with a variety of aged whisky ranging from 8 years old up to a 52-year-old whisky, which is rumoured to be worth around £50k a bottle!
The tasting was an education and perfectly conducted by the lagavulin legendary warehouseman, Iain McArthur who has been in the industry for over 50 years. Certainly a must for any visit to Islay and what an experience for just £25 🙂
Golf in Islay
Although Islay is famous for its whisky production, the standard of golf doesn’t let it down either. The recently re-designed Machrie Links is a championship links par 71. Set in the idyllic and picturesque peatland the course overlooks Laggan Bay.
The course has recently been re-designed by former European Tour player DJ Russel. As a result he has improved the course with well laid out holes and strategic bunkering; providing a challenge for all levels of golfer. Some people preferred the old quirky, narrow, tricky layout. However these changes are a huge improvement and we definitely recommend a round on a visit to Islay. The clubhouse and hotel on site has also received a huge boost with investment and development and will boast a 48-room complex ideal for any whisky loving golfer.
Sometimes we do not know how lucky we are to live in Scotland and how very little we experience things which are right on our doorstep. Islay was very much that for me. Although it’s a long drive to the ferry from the east coast, its most definitely worth it. Islay would be a great place to visit for returning golfers or whisky enthusiasts to Scotland. My recommendation would be to stay at least 2 nights to take your time and play at Machrie Links. Then hire a driver guide to sightsee and visit the distilleries. You can also take a short ferry over to Jura too if time allows. One thing that became apparent is that the Islay way of life appears to be very relaxed and that’s most definitely the way all visitors should enjoy their trip…
Do you wish to visit Islay Scotland? please contact us today to discuss the tour options available to you.