There are currently eight distilleries on Islay (pronounced Eye-luh) which is a small, mainly flat island off the West Coast of Scotland and one of the Inner Hebrides. Because of its location, the island is constantly lashed by the sea, wind and rain and these elements are partly responsible for the flavour of the whisky produced there. Islay is made up largely of peat which is the other major influence on the flavour of whiskies from this region. Islay whiskies are the strongest flavoured of all Scotch whiskies and tend to be dry and peaty. They are renowned for their strong peaty smokiness, which comes from the peat fuel which is used for malting the barley. The character of Islay malt whiskies is very smoky and medicinal, salty and seaweedy with a dry finish and sometimes quite a bite. Islay malts can be an acquired taste, but if you like big, smoky dry whiskies, these are the ones for you.