Picture this: You sip a dram of peat-permeated whisky as the rain thrashes down, waves crashing against the rocks, on an island of green and gold and gray flooded in cascading clouds. You’re glad you didn’t camp on the beach tonight.
Such is a common scene in Islay, also known as “Queen of the Hebrides.” It’s a tempestuous beast in spring, with only 3,000 people living year-round on this island off the coast of Scotland, just 70 miles west of Glasgow. Come summer, however, over 45,000 tourists will descend upon it. With its green hills, golden fields, rocky beaches, turquoise waters—and lest we forget, some of the world’s finest Scotch—Islay is a whisky and outdoors lover’s dream.