Toast the festive season with Argyll’s whiskies, gins and ales. Argyll is famed for its single malt whiskies, with distilleries dotting the coastline. Some cracking craft gin and craft ales are made here too. But why are these Argyll drinks so special? Perhaps it’s the water, the pristine environment or the skills that have been passed down through the generations. Whatever the answer, make sure your Christmas and New Year has plenty of Argyll spirit.
The spirit of Christmas
Argyll is home to fifteen world-class distilleries, each producing distinctive and characterful single malt whisky, so you have plenty of choice for your festive dram. Islay is famed world-wide for its peaty malts, and neighbouring Jura is home to a fantastic distillery too. Campbeltown on Kintyre once had 34 distilleries, but today just Springbank, Glen Scotia and Mitchell's Glengyle. Each of them produces a unique whisky characterised by smokiness with a touch of salt. Whisky from Oban, meanwhile, has a misty, briny character while Tobermory produces two very distinctive malts.
Is that GIN-gle bells I hear?
Argyll’s craft gin distilleries are making waves right now. The gins are infused with locally foraged botanicals and come in beautiful bottles, making them the perfect Christmas drink. Try an Argyll gin neat, serve them with a mixer or make a festive cocktail.
Many of Argyll’s islands are home to gin distilleries. Bruichladdich’s The Botanist is made at the Bruichladdich whisky distillery on the island of Islay. The gin’s botanicals are hand-picked by islanders who find delights such as bog myrtle leaves, gorse flowers and heather. The tiny Hebridean island of Colonsay has inspired not one but two gins! Colonsay Gin is made by Wild Thyme Spirits, while Wild Island Gin is made by Colonsay Ales.
And out on the wild and rugged west coast of the island of Jura, Lussa Gin is made by hand in small batches by three local women. The beautiful island of Mull, meanwhile, is home to Whitetail Gin, inspired by the island’s famous white-tailed eagle. And out on the remote Hebridean island of Tiree, Tyree Gin is made. It may not be an island, but the wild Kintyre peninsula feels just as remote. Here Kintyre Gin is made at Torrisdale Castle Estate in Kintyre at the Beinn an Tuirc Distillery.
Christmas beer and cheer
If you like a pint of real ale then you’re in for a treat this Christmas in Argyll. There’s a fantastic variety of beer and ale being produced by craft breweries across the region. You can buy them online or find them in the pubs and restaurants in Argyll and beyond.
The island of Islay is famous for its whiskies, but it’s also home to the excellent Islay Ales. Kilchoman Dark or Kilchoman Pale both use malted barley direct from Kilchoman Distillery to give the beer a smoky, peaty taste. Fyne Ales Brewery in Cowal produces a range of modern British beers, including Highlander, a dark amber-coloured bittersweet ale. The tiny Hebridean island of Colonsay has Colonsay Ales making it the smallest island in the world with its own brewery! Bute Brew Co is stopping production for now, but you can still get hold of gift boxes of the ales, all brewed on Bute, at High Spirits in Rothesay.
Whether you’re looking for a festive dram, a nip after the chaos of Christmas or a drink to toast the New Year, Argyll’s whiskies, gins and ales have got it covered.