Scotland: Islay

The Isle of Islay, also known as Queen of the Hebrides, makes up a portion of the southern Hebrides. As the southernmost island, Islay sits in between Bute and Argyll. A total area of 239 square miles (619 sq. km) makes Islay the fifth largest Scottish island. The coastline runs for a total of 130 miles (209 km). Famous for single malt whiskey, the island boasts eight distilleries in operation today. The production of malt whiskey is a crucial part of Islay’s economy. The fertile soil and abundance of clean water provide ideal conditions to grow barley. Roughly 3,228 people reside on the island, with the first settlers inhabiting the area during the 1st century AD. These nomadic hunter-gatherers arrived during the Mesolithic era, sometime during 7500 BC. In the past, Islay held great power and was once considered a principal seat in the west of Scotland.