Islay Ales

We Rocked up at Islay House Square home to a variety of Artisan businesses, including a gallery, marmalade maker and chocolate shop. However the target could be identified by the tell-tale pile of casks outside - Islay Ales. The shop takes up more space than the brewery itself and on my visit is full of touring Finnish engineering graduates. They all wear sailor-style hats for ease of identification.

Og, Single Malt and Finlaggan
There are a choice of three beers available on cask and samples are offered from the remainder of the bottles. The core range is available along with a Christmas Ale and we pick Angus Og, Nerabus and Single Malt Ale (3 for £10). (I didn't get around to drinking them on the island; so no reviews this time I'm afraid!). Unfortunately none of the limited edition whisky-collaboration beers were available, but the brewery was due to be bottling the 2012 version later that week.

I popped next door to chat to Paul in the 5BBL plant. There are four fermenters, with little immediate space for expansion. The majority (>90%) of beer is sold to the islanders-a captive market as no mainland cask beer seems to make it to here. I ask about outlets on the island and there's around 5 that take cask beer, with bottles available in a number of others.

I later found Finlaggan available on cask in Bowmore. The aroma didn't bode well for the beer white pepper and mace, with more of it in the flavour- not at all what I was suspecting and I'd suspect a dodgy cask. It was in good condition and pin bright; so I'm not sure the pubs at fault. Annoyingly a lot of bottle outlets on the island sold the beer cheaper than at the brewery itself, by over 50p in one case.

I wasn't keen on Islay Saligo when I tried a bottle last year, but I was fortunate to find Kentucky Kiss, a new bourbon barrel aged beer, at the Bruichladdich shop the following day.
Dark brown with rich whisky and wood ester notes on the nose. Toffee and marzipan with quite a sour twang. Coffee comes over in the finish.Its not particularly boozy as you might expect from a whisky age beer. I'd probably not have it again but its interesting to try.

I don't think I've tried this brewery at its best yet, need to old off judgement until I've tried those other three bottles next time I'm home.


  1. Seems a bit of a mixed bag there Steve, maybe because it's a captive audience?

    Love islay though & very jealous of your visits

    1. Potentially could be, but there's enough mainlanders on Islay to know if the beer is duff and it wouldn't be doing so well. I think I may have jus been unlucky.