Islay is such a popular destination for business and tourism these days that you can catch a twenty-five minute flight from Glasgow just about any day of the week. But with space on the tiny plane at a premium, the prices aren't cheap and the schedule is never a sure thing due to the unpredictable weather patterns. Seeing that the drive from Glasgow to the ferry at Kennacraig is absolutely stunning, I would never even think about flying—even if I was strapped for time. My most recent visit was the fifth time I'd made the drive to the Kintyre and it was no less thrilling that any of the previous occasions.
Traveling by plane, you would dearly miss the majestic beauty of Loch Fyne and the adjacent town of Inveraray, home to the Duke of Argyll. You would also miss stopping for lunch in Tarbert and gazing out onto the many boats in the harbor. There's no way I'd be willing to give up oysters and a glass of Champagne at Loch Fyne in exchange for a shorter commute!
Plus, you'd miss out on the ferry ride. Catching the boat from Kennacraig to Port Askaig is practically a right of passage for serious whisky drinkers!
The first distillery you see upon landing at Port Askaig is Cool Ila, and it's always an inspiring moment no matter how many times you've been to Islay. We were fortunate enough to turn our most recent visit to the island into something special: a 33 year old single barrel of pure magic. Shaped, forged, and concentrated for more than three decades, this release under the Old Particular label brings forth one of the most decadent whisky experiences we’ll have the pleasure of offering you this year. The nose carries with it the very essence of Islay: brine, bogs, wet earth, peat, salt, and the sea, all mingling slowly and methodically through the glass. The palate is instantly soft and supple, but at 51.9% it kicks into gear mid-way through and unleashes a wave of ocean spray, sweet barley, smoke, tar, soot, and freshly-cut peat that still shines through despite more than three decades in wood.
It's everything you want when you think of Islay, and for me it's a reminder of what it takes to get there.