ROBIN McKelvie spends a weekend on the Isle of Islay
If you love whisky the SYHA Port Charlotte (private rooms from £45, www.syha.org.uk) is the place to be as it’s housed in an old distillery building.
Combine your first distillery visit with an excellent local produce, such as Islay beef panini at Kilchoman, before a wee tour of Scotland’s second smallest distillery, pictured right.
Get to the heart of Islay’s history by exploring the romantic haunt of the Lords of the Isles out at Finlaggan.
Book a window table with a sea view at the Port Charlotte Hotel (www.portcharlottehotel.co.uk) and enjoy fresh Islay produce. On the menu are the likes of Lagavulin scallops and massive Loch Gruinart oysters.
Time to tour Islay’s trio of southern distilleries. Kick off at Laphroaig with their foodie matching tour and tasting to really challenge your preconceptions about whisky.
Next is Lagavulin, a relaxed distillery that is currently celebrating its 200th year making glorious peaty single malts. A good place to pick up rare distillery-only bottlings.
Last of the southern gems is Ardbeg, with its swish shop, superb tours and excellent café. Their whisky tinged seafood chowder tempts in locals as well as tourists.
The last distillery of the day is Bowmore in the eponymous island capital. They still do some of their own malting and lay on excellent tours. Tastings are enhanced by the broad views of Loch Indaal.
Stop off for dinner at the Bridgend Hotel. The epic seafood platter for two is the way to go, or opt for game dishes culled from the Islay Estates, which owns the hotel.
Time to tick off your last three distilleries en route to the ferry at Port Askaig. First up is the quirky operation at Bruichladdich, followed by remote Bunnahabhain and distinctive Caol Ila, where the stills have a glass wall that affords views over the water to the Paps of Jura.