I found an interesting Islay and whisky related article on the "The Age" website. The Age is an online as well as a magazine publishing company from down under in Australia. The author of the article is Ron Crittall who made the trip to Scotland to enjoy some of the whisky distilleries in the Highlands and on Islay, which he describes as a "special place". In the Highlands he has visited Glenmorangie, Talisker and Edradour. A visit to Scotland's distilleries isn't complete without visiting the Isle of Islay and that's exactly what Ron did. Below a quote of his Islay whereabouts:
This small island, closest to Ireland, where whisky is supposed to have originated, has eight working distilleries and produces the most distinctive malts in Scotland. Lagavulin is one of three distilleries along the rocky south coast, all renowned for their pungent peat and seaweed characteristics.
Lagavulin is the biggest producer on Islay, operating at maximum capacity because of demand, but quality is still vital. "We distil for 10 hours to preserve the peat flavour and we have the smallest 'heart' of any distillery [the portion taken from the spirit stills], so claim to take only the best," the guide says.
Visitors get some unexpected tastings on the Lagavulin tour. The first is from the "wash", after the fermentation process, which at 8 per cent alcohol tastes a bit beery. The second tasting comes after the final distillation. A small quantity is poured on my hands (it's 70 per cent alcohol now) so I can smell and get an idea of the flavour. There is lots of peat influence but a clear liquid; the colour comes from the years spent in oak casks.
Since we are talking about Lagavulin.... Lagavulin Distillery also won several prizes at the Malt Maniacs Awards 2008. The first award is for the Lagavulin 21yo: Non-Plus-Ultra Award 2008 (Overall top scoring 'ultra premium' whisky out of all 2008 MM Awards entries) and the second one is for the Lagavulin 1991/2007 which won the Best Peated Malt Award 2008 in the premium category! Other Islay winners are Bowmore and Caol Ila.