'Islands' is a collective term for the islands of north-west Scotland.

Overview of Islands Whisky

'Islands' is a general term for the islands other than Islay, and refers to the whole area rather than just one whisky producing region. To put it simply, it means "other islands".

Of the approximately 800 islands scattered off the coast of Scotland, malt whisky distilleries are located on the islands of Arran, Jura, Lewis, Mull, Orkney, Skye, and Islay. Of these, only Islay is classified as an independent Scotch whisky production area, as it is home to a very large number of distilleries. The other islands are then designated as Islands.

The distilleries classified as Islands cover a wide geographical area and the Scotch whiskies they produce have very different characteristics. The 'Islands' classification should therefore be considered purely a location rather than a whisky style.

The 'Islands' refer to the following islands

  • Isle of Arran
  • Isle of Jura
  • Isle of Lewis
  • Isle of Mull
  • Isle of Skye
  • Orkney Islands
  • Shetland Islands (no distilleries here).

*Although geographically Islay is close, it is independent as 'Islay' due to the number of distilleries and its distinctive taste.

Characteristics of the taste and aroma of Islands whisky

Varies from distillery to distillery, including spicy Talisker, sweet and peaty Highland Park and non-peated, smooth Arran. Rather than saying "Islands whisky is like this", it is better to talk about the characteristics of each island and each distillery.

Islands and distillery characteristics in a nutshell

There are not that many distilleries that belong to the Islands. Here is a simple summary of which distilleries are on which islands and the characteristics of each taste.

Isle of Arran

■Arran Distillery [Established in 1995]
In the core range, there is little or no peatiness. Mainly fruity, floral and spicy.

Isle of Jura

■Isle of Jura Distillery [Established 1810].
Mild and sweet, oily and salty. Lightly peated.

Isle of Lewis

■Abhainn Dearg Distillery[Established in 2008]
Smoky, spicy, herbal and other complex flavours, but it is said that the taste is not yet coherent.

Isle of Mull

■Tobermory Distillery [Established in 1798]
-[Brand] Tobermory
Non-peated. Sweet, fruity taste of barley, with a hint of sea air and oak aroma.
-[Brand] Ledaig
Heavily peated. Smoky and citrus aromas. Mint, cookie aroma and salty aroma.

Isle of Skye

■Talisker Distillery [Established in 1830]
Distinctive peppery taste mixed with salty and seaweedy flavours.

Orkney Islands

■Scapa Distillery [Established in 1885]
Non-peated and clear flavour. Fruity aromas like tropical fruits and pears, with the sweetness of vanilla.
■Highland Park
The northernmost distillery in the world. The malt is versatile, smoky and full-flavored.

Islands whisky trivia

Shetland Islands whisky

There is no distillery, but there is a whisky called Muckle Flugga, which is made by bringing whisky from Speyside and maturing it for a year in a place called Unst Island in the Shetland Islands for some reason. It tastes of ripe orchard fruit, dried raisins, rich honey and a touch of sweet sherry.