From the Orkneys in the far North, to Arran 300 miles to the South and with Jura, Mull and Skye in between, Scotland�s island malts are as diverse as the character of the islands themselves.
As a region, it does not include Islay, which, with eight distilleries, is given its own separate region. It does, however, now include the Isle of Lewis, whose Abhainn Dearg distillery opened in 2008.
The Orkneys has two distilleries, the world-class all-rounder Highland Park with its signature heather-honey taste, and the fruity and salty (and heavily under-estimated) Scapa. As befitting its stark and mountainous terrain, Skye's only distillery, Talisker, produces a volcanic eruption of a malt: smoky, peppery, fiery and brooding. Talisker is currently one of the world's best selling single malts and it is easy to see why. It is also difficult to think of any other single malt that could be seen as being even remotely similar.
Further South, the Island of Mull produces an altogether more restrained malt: the fruity, salty, lightly-peated and eponymous Tobermory, the 'capital' of the island and the setting for BBC TV's children's series Balamory. However, for those who prefer more heavily-peated whiskies, it also produces the Ledaig at the same distillery.
Just off the coast of Islay and with 35 times more deer than human inhabitants is the Isle of Jura, perhaps most famous for being the island where George Orwell wrote 1984. Despite making no economic sense whatsoever to have a distillery there, the distillery has survived and indeed thrived under the ownership of Whyte & Mackay. Jura whiskies are sweet, oily and piney, although they also produce sensational heavily-peated whiskies too.
Lastly, we come to Arran, whose distillery only opened in 1995. Famous for producing some of the best (although illegal) whisky in the 18th century, the island supposedly has the purest water in Scotland and a warm climate for speedy maturation. Arran's whisky is creamy, rich and fruity, not what you would expect from the Islands, but fabulous nonetheless.Our Islands tasting is here .