The northernmost of Islay’s distilleries, Bunnahabhain (from the Gaelic for "mouth of the river") was built close to the mouth of the Margadale River on the sheltered north-eastern coast of Islay, commanding spectacular views over to Jura.
Founded in 1881 by a partnership, which went on to be incorporated as the Islay Distillery Co. a year later, Bunnahabhain is now owned by Burn Stewart Distillers. Little else has changed at the distillery since the late 19th century and it still pipes its water direct from streams in the surrounding hills.
A deep breath of clover and heather honey encapsulated in a damp warehouse note. Wet moss, roots and earth laced with this indefinable marine touch meet sherry sweetness, revealing hazelnut toffee, dark fruit and gentle liquorice flavours.
Peat is a partially carbonized vegetable tissue formed by partial decomposition in water of various plants, usually mosses, found in bogs. Peat is used as fertilizer and fuel. The peat bogs on Islay contain marine elements (pebbles, seaweed, shells).
Peat releases smoky aromas - smoke, soot, tar, TCP... but only when burnt. On Islay, peat is often used as fuel to dry malted barley - giving Islay whiskies their distinctive aromas which range from earth to smoke, from tar to seaweeds, from bonfire to soot.
Martine Nouet, a French journalist and whisky writer known as "The Queen of the Still" in the whisky industry, was carried away by Islay fragrances when she first visited the island 20 years ago. She now lives on Islay, delighted to breathe in the wonderful flavours reflected in Islay’s whiskies among Earth, Air, Fire and Water.