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A diverse whisky region, the proximity to the sea often proffers slightly salty, sometimes smoky whiskies. Balance is a recurring theme; sweetness and pungency in perfect harmony. A decidedly eclectic assortment of whiskies is to be found on the Islands. It is hard to categorise them, indeed the fact they are a category of their own is most probably for geographic ease rather than for discerning between styles. There is often, however, a marked salinity, particularly in whiskies from Isle of Jura, with their oily nature and gentle peat.
The Isle of Skye is beaten by the elements, the sole distillery, Talisker, uses a peated malt and the smoky, pungent drams it produces are quite similar in style to the punchy whiskies from Islay’s southern coast.
Mull is slightly more unfamiliar, its sole distillery, Tobermory produces soft whisky with menthol freshness and plenty of sweetness. Orkney is a dark, weathered isle, there is often a salty character, but, certainly in Highland Park’s case, there is sublime balance. Arran is a newcomer to the scene, and its sole distillery and namesake is producing whiskies that have recently come of age. There is plenty of barley sweetness, no peat and a good fruity character.