Islay Whisky Tour Itinerary
The Islay Whisky Tour Itinerary has over nine distillery options to choose from. Most of the Islay distilleries offer a range of tour types and whisky tastings. Anything from warehouse tastings to bog walks to peat cutting to learning about the local folklore. Because there is such a rich variety of distillery experiences to draw from, its ideal for putting together a great Islay Whisky Tour.
Bowmore is the oldest distillery on Islay and unlike most distilleries in Scotland it has its own floor maltings. These are used to prepare the barley for mashing. Bowmore has the oldest warehouse in Scotland and fatures in some of the tours. Bowmore has a few different tour and whisky tasting options.
Laphroaig was established in 1815 and all its whisky is matured on Islay. It encourages whisky drinkers to voice their opinions whether good or bad and operates a loyalty scheme which gives members ownership of a square foot of Islay! The Water to Whisky Experience includes a distillery tour with a visit to the water source visit and peat banks.
Ardbeg was established in 1815 and later that century became one of the most productive distilleries on Islay. The 10 year old whisky is described as “Sea spray, Tarry rope. Immense smoky intensity“. Ardbeg took part in an experiment on the space station realting to whisky maturation. Ardbeg tours and tastings include the intriguing Old, Mature and Unusual Tasting.
Lagavulin celebrated its bicentenary in 2016. The site was said to be home to 10 illicit distilleries prior starting legal production in 1816. A year later, Malt Mill Distillery was established but later became part of Lagavulin and whiksy folklore. The Lagavulin Distillery Exclusive Experience include the opportunity to hand fill your own 20cl bottle from single cask.
Islay Whisky Tour Map
This theoretical Islay whisky tour starts from Port Ellen, (bottom of the map). Travellling east along the A846. Alongside the road there is a walking path. The first distillery is Laphroaig, signposted right from the road. It’s about 1.6 miles from Port Ellen.
The whitewashed distillery walls of Lagavulin comes into view. Lagavulin sits just to the side of the road about 2.5 miles from Port Ellen.
Onwards, passing Lagavulin’s warehouses, the final distillery on this stretch is Ardbeg with its three pagoda roofs. It sits to the right, down a minor road. Ardbeg lies about 3.5 miles from Port Ellen.
Returning to Port Ellen, this time travelling northbound past Kilnaughton Bay lies Port Ellen Distillery. When it opens it will have a modern visitor centre. Going north, past the small but often busy Islay Airport.
The next stop is Bowmore, home of Bowmore Distillery which is close to the shoreline.
At Bridgend there is an important detour along the A847 to another two Islay distilleries.
The first is Kilchoman Distillery. The right hand minor road, B8018 to Sanaigmore marks the start of the route to the distillery
The A847 follows the coastline closely. Bruichladdich Distillery appears on the right with its pier on the left.
Back to Bridgend and continue along the A846 towards Port Askaig. There’s a route left towards Ardnahoe Distillery and then Bunnahabhain Distillery. It’s around 3.5 miles to Bunnahabhain Distillery along a twisting and turning road. A sharp turn down to the shoreline finds Bunnahabhain Distillery
Just before reaching Port Askaig there is a road north towards Caol Ila Distillery (signposted Caol Ila).
Port Askaig is also a ferry port and it’s possible to return to the mainland or take the ferry across to Jura to visit Jura Distillery.
How to get to Islay
Islay lies off the west coast of Scotland and it can be reached by ferry from Kennacraig on the mainland marked by the blue square on the map. The ferry service to Islay is operated by Caledonian Macbrayne, commonly known as Calmac.
There is a choice of two ports. The Kennacraig to Port Ellen ferry takes about 2 hours 10 minutes. The Kennacraig to Port Askaig service takes about 1 hour 55 minutes.
Flying to Islay is also a popular option with regular flights from Glasgow airport. Islay Airport (green map icon) is just north of Port Ellen in Glenegedale about 5 miles north of Port Ellen.