Golf Adventure Guides BLOG

Great Golf and Single Malts on Islay

If you love links golf and enjoy a fine single malt every now and then, the island of Islay in Scotland might just be heaven on earth.

The Machrie GC lies 3 miles north of Port Ellen and just south of the airport on Islay. It’s a 45-minute flight from Glasgow or a 6-hour journey (2:40 drive and 2:30 ferry) via land and sea. As a result, you may want to spend a few days on the island. Tip: Combine with a trip to Machrihanish GC near Campbeltown.

In Blasted Heaths and Blessed Green, James Finegan describes Machrie as “magnificent golfing country…within this magical landscape are numerous natural green sites–amphitheatres, punch bowls, plateaus, ridgetops, and ‘ridge bottoms.’ No mere golfer deserves this extraordinary combination of beauty, solitude, and freedom.”

Islay Whiskies are famous for their distinctive peaty flavour. There is a high concentration of distilleries on the island, which has made it a popular destination for whisky lovers from all over the world. They are world-famous for their distinctive character, and some of them have been produced here for over 200 years. The balanced addition of the island’s peat and water are key factors in differentiating each malt from its fellows. The essence of this distinctive drink can be captured by visiting the seven distilleries on Islay, and one on Jura: Caol Ila (pronounced Coll-eela), Bunnahabhain (pronounced Bu-na-ha-ven), Bruichladdich (pronounced Broo-ich-laddie), Bowmore, Ardbeg, Lagavulin (pronounced Lag-a-voo-lin), and Laphroaig (pronounced La-froyg).

One of my favorites is Laphroaig. Laphroaig means “The beautiful hollow in the broad bay” in Gaelic, and visitors to the distillery on the south-eastern shores of the island will see why. In the making of this single malt, malted barley is dried over a peat fire, which gives the drink its rich and distinctive flavour.

The folks at Laphroaig are pretty clever at marketing, too. When you purchase a bottle, they encourage you to register as a Friend Of Laphroaig (FOL). As a FOL you become a lifetime leaseholder of a square foot plot of land at the distillery and they agree to pay you one dram of Laphroaig whisky per year as ground rent. The catch? Well, you have to collect it in person. The small image you see here is my personalized certificate; you can click here to view a larger image of my Leaseholder Certificate. OK, it’s a little corny but it works for me.

Flight and ferry schedule information to the Island of Islay and more information on The Machrie GC can be found in the Scotland Golf Adventure Guide.

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Rob Babcock
Author/Golfer/The Golf Guide Guy

Posted in Drinking, Scotland