With Bowmore virtually next door and Islay’s other seven distilleries all within easy reach, the Lochside is a good base for anyone drawn to the island by the unique flavours of its peaty nectar.
The hotel is 100m from Bowmore Distillery and it’s state-of-the-art visitor centre, the perfect place to start getting to grips with what makes Islay single malt singularly special.
Established in 1779, Bowmore is one of Scotland’s oldest surviving distilleries and its informative tours draw in more than 10,000 visitors a year from all over the world. Now in the hands of the Japanese drinks giant Suntory, its past includes a spell under German ownership.
The energy generated in the production of these barrels of Bowmore gets recycled to heat the community swimming pool located between the distillery and the Lochside: great for recuperating between the different stages of an island whisky odyssey.
Heading north, Caol Ila can be found tucked away in its own lovely little cove, just beyond Port Askaig, and a little further on Bunnahabhain, one of the least peaty of the Islay malts, lies in its own picturesque bay.
From Bowmore, the second leg of an Islay whisky crawl involves a journey towards the southeastern corner of the island, and the acclaimed trio of Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg, nestling in rocky inlets along a couple of miles of craggy coastline.
The island’s two independent producers, Bruichladdich and Kilchoman, are based on the Rhinns, across Loch Indaal from the Lochside. Bruichladdich had been mothballed for six years before it was rescued by a group of private investors headed by Mark Reynier in 2000. A decade later, it is making greatly appreciated malt from barley grown exclusively in Scotland, and also producing a fantastic gin, The Botanist.
Launched in 2005, Kilchoman is a micro-distillery that, along the model of the world’s great wines, aims to carry out every step of production on its farm site close to the wild Atlantic coast.