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Sublime single malts of Scotland: Scottish Routes 4-Day Islay Whiskey Tour

When you marry a whiskey man (or whisky man, as they say in Scotland) with whom you share an affinity for first editions, bedroom slippers, bran cereals, Ken Burns documentaries, gardening, and heavily peated scotch (we are essentially grandparents in the chrysalis) it’s tough to decide on a honeymoon destination.

Oddly enough, we both landed on a tiny island off the coast of Scotland through independent research (another beloved Hunt-Ralston hobby) and soon realized it would be the perfect spot to unwind after exploring the wilds of Ireland and bustling Brussels.

The Isle of Islay

Halfway between Ireland and mainland Scotland, the remote Hebridean Isle of Islay is home to whitewashed harbor villages, deserted beaches, windswept hills, ancient ruins, a visit here and there from Ron Swanson – and some of the very finest whisky and gin that this good earth has to offer.

We set out through the Scottish Highlands with our trusty Nikon D3300 and a notebook in hand and came back with the most unforgettable experiences, new friends, memories, and some seriously heavenly drams.

The 4-Day Scottish Routes Islay Tour

Read Mr. Ralston’s travel journal and tasting notes over on the ASW Distillery blog, learn about the Scottish Routes Islay Tour here, and find my favorite trip sips at the bottom of this post. Everywhere we visited:

1-Scottish-Routes---Driving-the-Highlands---4-Day-Islay-Whisky-Tour---Scotland-Honeymoon-Europe

Deanston Distillery

1a-Deanston-Distillery---Scottish-Routes---4-Day-Islay-Whisky-Tour---Scotland-Honeymoon-Europe 2-Deanston-Distillery---River---Scottish-Routes---4-Day-Islay-Whisky-Tour---Scotland-Honeymoon-Europe

The road to Islay

3-Scottish-Highlands-Castle---Eileen-Fisher-Royal-Baby-Alpaca-Grey-Kimono-Coat---European-Honeymoon-Travel-Diary 4-Scotland-Highlands-Tour-with-Scottish-Routes-to-Islay---Kilmartin-Hotel-in-Argyll 5-Scotland-Highlands-Tour-with-Scottish-Routes-to-Islay-Argyll

Oban Distillery

6-Tarbert-Scotland-Fishing-Village-Bay---Scottish-Routes-Islay-Tour---Highlands 7-Oban-Distillery---Obantown-Scotland---Scottish-Routes-Tour-from-Edinburgh-to-Islay-through-Highlands

Around Islay + Bowmore Inn Bed & Breakfast

9a-View-from-the-Bowmore-House-Bed-and-Breakfast-B-and-B-Islay-Scotland-Scottish-Routes-Whisky-Tour-Review10-View-of-Lagavulin-Distillery---Scottish-Routes-Whisky-Tour--Islay-Scotland-4-Day-Holiday9a-View-from-the-Bowmore-House-Bed-and-Breakfast-B-and-B-Islay-Scotland---Scottish-Routes-Whisky-Tour-Review

Peat fields of Islay

11-Laphroaig-Distillery-Peat-Fields-in-Islay-Scotland-Scottish-Routes-Whisky-Tour-Review 12-Laphroaig-Distillery-Peat-Field-in-Islay-Scotland---Hudson-Horrigan-Wrap-Strap-Booties-and-Paige-Verdugo-Jeggings 15-Along-the-bay-in-Islay-Scotland

Lagavulin Distillery

13-Lagavulin-Distillery-Islay-Scotland-Review-Ron-Swanson-Parks-and-Rec---Scottish-Routes-Whisky-Tour 14-Lagavulin-Distillery-Whisky-Tour-Islay-Scotland---Lagavulin-18-year-23-year-and-34-year-aged-scotch-warehouse

Cemetery-side honor-system coffee stand

16-Kildalton-Church-Ruins-Ancient-Kildalton-Cross-on-Islay-Scotland-Island 17-The-Honor-System-Cafe-at-Kildalton-Cross-Church-in-Islay-Scotland---Christmas-Cake-Coffee-Teas-Stand 17a-Cakes-at-Kildalton-Cross-Cafe---Honor-System---Christmas-Cakes-Tea-and-Coffee-in-Islay-Scotland 20-The-Scenery-and-Landscape-in-Islay-Scotland-Island-Hebredes-Whisky-Scotch-Tours18-Scotch-Barrels-to-Age-Whisky-at-Ardbeg-Distillery-Islay-Scotland---Scottish-Routes-4-Day-Tour 19-Whisky-Tasting-Flavour-Wheel-at-Ardbeg-Distillery-in-Islay-Scotland---Scottish-Routes-Review 24-The-Scenery-and-Landscape-in-Islay-Scotland-Island-Hebredes-Whisky-Scotch-Tours

Laphroaig Distillery

21-Laphroaig-Distillery-in-Islay-Scotland---Scottish-Routes-Whisky-Tour-Review 22-The-Barlay-Malting-Floor-at-Laphroaig-Distillery-in-Islay-Scotland23-The-Scenery-and-Landscape-in-Islay-Scotland-Island-Hebredes-Whisky-Scotch-Tours23a-Chad-Ralston-American-Spirit-Whisky-ASW-Distillery-Islay-Scotland

Bruichladdich Distillery

24a-The-Still-House-at-Bruichladdich-Distillery-in-Islay-Scotland---Scottish-Routes-Whisky-Scotch-Tour 25-Fill-your-own-bottle-from-the-cask---Bruichladdich-Distillery-in-Islay-Scotland---The-Laddie-Valinch-26-year-unpeated-bourbon-finish-Classic-Laddie-Scotch 26-Bruichladdich-20-Year-Duncan-The-Budgie-Macfadyen-Fill-Your-Own-Bottle-Scotch-Bruichladdich-Islay-Scotland 28-A-Paddock-Pasture-of-Sheep-in-Islay-Scotland

The Islay Woollen Mill Company

29-The-Islay-Woollen-Mill-Co-Ltd---Oldest-Continuously-Operated-Woollen-Mill-in-Great-Britain-UK-Scotland-Islay-Tartan-Plaids-Knits 30-The-Islay-Woollen-Mill-Co-Ltd---Oldest-Continuously-Operated-Woollen-Mill-in-Great-Britain-UK-Scotland-Islay-Tartan-Plaids-Knits 31-Gordon-and-Sheila-Covell---Tweeds-The-Islay-Woollen-Mill-Co-Ltd---Oldest-Continuously-Operated-Woollen-Mill-in-Great-Britain-UK-Scotland-Islay-Tartan-Plaids-Knits 30-The-Islay-Woollen-Mill-Co-Ltd-Braveheart-Prince-Charles-Queen-England-UK-Britain-Tweeds-Scotland-Islay-Tartan-Plaids-Knits 33-Gordon-and-Sheila-Covell---Tweeds-The-Islay-Woollen-Mill-Co-Ltd---Oldest-Continuously-Operated-Woollen-Mill-in-Great-Britain-UK-Scotland-Islay-Tartan-Plaids-Knits

Kilchoman Distillery

37-Delicious-Peated-Coffee-Peat-Water-at-Kilchoman-Distillery-in-Islay-Scotland---Scottish-Routes-Whisky-Scotch-Tour34-An-old-tractor-at-Kilchoman-Distillery-Birthplace-of-the-Land-Rover-Vehicle-Islay-Scotland 36-Malted-Sprouted-Barley-Floor-At-Kilchoman-Distillery-Birthplace-of-the-Land-Rover-Vehicle-Islay-Scotland35-Barbour-Beadnell-and-Goorin-Brothers-County-Line-Hat-At-Kilchoman-Distillery-Birthplace-of-the-Land-Rover-Vehicle-Islay-Scotland

Bunnahabhain Distillery

38-Tweed-Tartan-Plaid-Whisky-Distillery-Pattern-for-Bunnahabhain-Distillery-in-Islay-Scotland---Scottish-Routes-Review38-Warehouse-Tasting-Cask-Strength-Scotch-Tasting-Thief-Bunnahabhain-Distillery-in-Islay-Scotland---Scottish-Routes-Review 40-Tapping-the-Cask-Warehouse-Tasting-Cask-Strength-Scotch-Tasting-Thief-Bunnahabhain-Distillery-in-Islay-Scotland---Scottish-Routes-Review 42a-The-Last-Dram-at-Bunnahabhain-Distillery-in-Islay-Scotland-Whisky-Tour-with-Scottish-Routes

Caol Ila Distillery

41-On-the-shore-Bunnahabhain-Distillery-in-Islay-Scotland---Scottish-Routes-Review43-On-the-shore-Bunnahabhain-Distillery-in-Islay-Scotland---Scottish-Routes-Review

Favorite sips

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The Lagavulin 23 and 34 were my very favorites, but, alas, Iain told me these are tough to come by outside the warehouse casks — then he kindly passed a takeaway dram over. “What’s the best whisky in the world?” he winked. “Free whisky!” I replied with a grin.

Tippling accoutrements

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Get the look

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Also on this trip

Galway, Ireland | Killarney National Park | Edinburgh, Scotland
Trip Packing List |
My Camera Kit

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