As you can probably guess from the title, I fell hard for a small Scottish island. Very hard, actually.
We first traveled to Islay in August 2014, one station on a two-week road trip through Scotland.
We spent just two nights there, which meant we only had one full day to tour the island, and that one day turned out to be pretty wet. Like pouring buckets wet. We didn’t mind too much, booked a rather spontaneous whisky tasting at Laphroaig distillery, and enjoyed ourselves.
In October 2015 we spent three nights on Islay, again as part of a road trip, and this time around, the weather gods seemed to love us – beautiful, almost summery days, and some of the loveliest rainbows we have ever seen (yes, we had some rain, and no, we didn’t mind, we live in northern Germany, you see…).
So, without further ado, here are my
Top 5 Reasons To Love Islay:
It’s a perfect destination for shorter trips, like a long holiday weekend, from our home base in Germany – just a short flight and a couple hours by car and ferry. Take the first flight to Edinburgh or Glasgow, make the early afternoon ferry, and enjoy tea time at a lovely Bed & Breakfast on Islay.
Complimentary whisky at your Bed & Breakfast – maybe not at each and every Bed & Breakfast, but definitely at The Bowmore House, which is not only located in walking distance of Bowmore distillery but also licensed to supply whisky to their guest.
Which they happily do, even in form of a breakfast dram, if you are inclined to be adventurous (and don’t need to drive).
And no, I did not start every day like that. Nor should you.
Drivers wave and greet wherever you go. When you first leave the ferry, it takes a moment to get used to everybody and his dog waving at you, but you soon appreciate the friendly gesture (just like the Jeep wave or the biker wave) and wave back automatically.
Feels weird when you leave the ferry in Tarbert and immediately start missing the Islay wave.
Most of the roads on Islay are single track, and you need to use passing places, so it can be quite distracting to watch for the next passing place, stay on the right, err, correct (left!) side of the road, and return the wave. Thank goodness I did not have to drive but could enjoy the scenery!
Sheep! Sheep are absolutely everywhere, even all over Islay Airport. Which might or might not be due to the fact that the runway is basically in the middle of pasture land.
Especially in combination with green meadows and blue sky, sheep are PRETTY!
Whisky! Definitely not on top of a teetotaler’s list, but the sheer amount of distilleries on Islay make this little island extra special. On our two trips to Islay so far, we have toured Laphroaig, Caol Ila, and my personal favorite Bruichladdich, and we have at least visited the shops (sometimes including a little tasting) of Bunnahabhain, Ardbeg, Lagavulin, Bowmore and Kilchoman.
Islay whisky would definitely deserve its very own post, but alas, I have absolutely no knack whatsoever for describing taste. For me, it’s basically a scale between “yum” and “yuck”, so absolutely no use to actually review any kind of food or drink…
There are of course any number of other reasons to love Islay, like its landscape, the ocean, the history of the place, the climate, the food – all things that I thoroughly enjoyed both times we have been there so far, but then this post would have swollen to something like the “Top 37 Reasons To Love Islay”, which, if you ask me, would have been overkill. Doesn’t mean there won’t be another post or three about Islay 😉