Bob Simon of 60 Minutes liked good Scotch and beautiful places. Simon had heard about a magical place off the coast of Scotland, in the Hebrides Islands, a place known for making some of the great whiskies of the world, so when he had the chance, he took off for the beautiful Isle of Islay. This is the last story created by Simon before his untimely death. Unfortunately, Bob was killed in a car crash while being driven in a limo in New York City on February 11th 2015. This 60 Minutes story was pulled together and completed by his dear friends at CBS after his death. The episode features a lot of interesting images, videos and a bit of history around the Isle of Islay.
- A list of the eight Isle of Islay whisky distilleries is below the video.
- An Infographic Map with the Distilleries of Isle of Islay can be found here.
- View all Isle of Islay Distilleries here.
The Inner Hebrides islands are a chain of islands off the west coast of mainland Scotland. There are 36 inhabited islands in this group including the Isle of Islay. Islay (pronounced “eye-la”) known as “The Queen of the Hebrides” is the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides. Its mild climate and rich peaty soil make it ideal for creating whisky, and despite having a population of not much more than 3,000, it’s home to eight active distilleries. There are many more now defunct distilleries scattered around the island.
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Simon’s host for most of his time on the island is Master Distiller Jim McEwan of Bruichladdich Distillery. McEwan has announced he is to retire in July 2015 after more than 52 years in the business. Enjoy this last chapter in a magnificent 47 year professional journalists career and raise a glass to his memory.
I just thank God that he chose the Scot’s and he gave them whisky because we appreciate the gift and we look after it. Master Distiller Jim McEwan
The Eight Distilleries of The Isle of Islay
Ardbeg Distillery | /ɑrdˈbɛɡ/ ard-BEG | small headland | Founded 1815
Ardbeg produces a heavily peated Islay whisky. The distillery uses malted barley sourced from the maltings in Port Ellen.
Bowmore Distillery | /boʊˈmɔr/ boh-MOR | great sea reef or sea rock | Founded 1779
Bowmore is the first recorded distillery on Islay and one of the oldest in the whole of Scotland. Islay malts are renowned for their peaty smokiness and Bowmore is no exception.
Bruichladdich Distillery | /brʊkˈlædi/ bruuk-LA-dee | bank on the shore | Founded 1881
The distillery produces mainly single malt Scotch whisky, but has also offered artisanal gin
Bunnahabhain Distillery | /ˌbuːnəˈhævən/BOO-nə-HA-vən | mouth of the river | Founded 1881
This gentle malt has always begun with good quality malted barley, clean, pure Margadale spring water and a little yeast.
Caol Ila Distillery | /kʊlˈaɪlə/ kuul-EE-lə | The Sound of Islay | Founded 1846
Caol Ila is Islay’s giant, producing more than double the spirit of the other distilleries on the island. Purpose built to produce over 7 million litres of spirit each year, Caol Ila distillery allows visitors to see large scale whisky production at its best.
Kilchoman Distillery | /kiːlˈtʃoʊmən/keel-CHOH-mən | St. Comman’s church | Founded 2005
Kilchoman is one of the smallest distilleries in Scotland. Based on a farm on the rugged west coast of Islay, Kilchoman was the first distillery to be built on the island for 125 years.
Lagavulin Distillery | /ˌlɑːkəˈvuːlɪn/LAH-kə-VOO-lin | the hollow where the mill is | 1742
Lagavulin single malt Scotch whisky has been made in a picturesque huddle of buildings on Lagavulin Bay. Perhaps the most beautifully situated of distilleries, Lagavulin makes arguably the most intense, smoky and rich whisky of all.
Laphroaig Distillery | /ləˈfrɔɪɡ/ lə-FROYG | beautiful hollow by the broad bay | Founded 1815
Laphroaig has produced a distinctive malt whisky in part due to the use of Bourbon barrels which does not smooth the taste like the more traditional sherry casks do.
About Bob Simon
Bob was a veteran US news ccorrespondent who had reported from conflict zones in 67 countries around the world in a journalistic career that spanned 47 years. He covered some of the most dramatic events in modern history. In 1996 Bob Simon joined the team at the CBS News magazine program “60 Minutes.” In 2014, 60 Minutes decided to develop a feature about the island of Islay, with Bob Simon as the correspondent. Tragically, it was to be Bob Simon’s last assignment. He was killed in a car crash while being driven in a limo in New York on February 11th 2015.