Islay produces a few of my favourite tipples, snorts, splashes, water of life-s... and these are not breakfast whiskys like Famous Grouse (though nothing wrong with a good BW). Islay is pronounced eye la; Islay is the anglicised spelling, the Gaelic spelling is Ile. Will take myself on a mental fieldtrip via some Bunnahabhain later...
There are 8 whisky distilleries on the island. Those distilleries on the south of the island produce whiskies with stronger peaty flavours; from east to west they are Ardbeg, Lagavulin, and Laphroaig. You know these... it smells like your tweed jacket is on fire once you add water. On the north of the island Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, and Caol Ila are produced. Kilchoman Distillery is on the western side of Islay, making it the most westerly distillery in Scotland, for what that gets you... Anyway, I love the look of these buildings and huge signage.
Armin Grewe runs a site that follows all types of life and events on Islay called the Islayblog... and he took the time to answer my question on the distinctive look of these distilleries.
10e: All the distilleries on Islay seem to use the whitewash/black letters scheme...
Armin: You're mostly right, although Bruichladdich doesn't. They only have the casks with the name in the Bruichladdich colours. Neither does Kilchoman, but then they don't really display their name apart from a fairly small name. Apart from that all the distilleries use different colour schemes in their branding, e.g. bottles, promo materials etc.
10e: Is this scheme unique to Islay?
Armin: No, Talisker on Skye do the same, although not as big. I'm told painting the names in large letters on to the warehouses was originally done to help the puffers [puffins] identify the correct distilleries on their journeys. That might be why you mainly find this on coastal distilleries (like the ones on Islay with the exception of Kilchoman which is inland).
Photos from: The Cocktail Guru
and Discover Islay