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Islay malts must be, for everyone from the beginner to the connoisseur, the most distinctive of all single malt whiskies - certainly their flavour is among the strongest of all the regions. Peat is the key, both in terms of its influence on the ingredients used for distillation and of its presence in the final taste. The island has extensive beds of peat, over which the water used in the distillation process flows, arriving at its destination already flavoured.

Varying amounts of peat are also used to dry the barley. In the past, the barley was produced locally, although now the majority is brought in from further afield.

Peat is noticeable in the flavours of all the Islay malts, from the mildest to the intensely flavoured, imparting a dryness which is sometimes balanced by sweetness and often emphasised by smokiness. For beginners to single malts, the Islay whiskies seem like an acquired taste, but they are an essential ingredient in the vast majority of Blended whiskies, without them your favourite blend may not be your favourite at all!

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