It is believed that the Irish monks first introduced the art of distillation to Islay, during the early fourteenth century. Due to the fact that Islay was a fertile island for growing barley, called bere in the old days, with excellent pure water sources and plenty of peat, the island had everything in favour to distill whisky.
Islay is very largely composed of peat, layer upon layer of spagnum mosses and other vegetation have been rotting away and created the compact black banks of peat which are used for home fuel and for the whisky industry. Most of the water on Islay is brown, even the water in the burns is brown, and winter gales drive salt spray far inland, and this saturates the peat, which is dried again by the briny, seaweedy breeze. All these characteristics go into the whiskies of Islay, to a greater or lesser extent.
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