Islay is home to eight working single malt whisky distilleries. Once principally used for blending purposes, Islay single malt whiskies have become extremely fashionable during the past couple of decades, with many Islay single malt whiskies approaching cult status with drinkers. Islay single malt whiskies are generally regarded as the most assertive and distinctive of all Scotch malt whiskies and are noted for their peaty and medicinal character. The Queen of the Hebrides, Islay's natural resources - fertile soil, extensive peat bogs and wonderful soft peaty water - mixed with sea breezes and traditional distilling processes, produce the most easily distinguishable of all malt whiskies. The distilleries in the south of the island produce the most strongly flavoured, phenolic whiskies in Scotland. The distilleries to the north tend to be of a lighter character, indeed some specify un-peated malt and draw their water direct from springs before it has had time to pick up much peat. In spite of this, they still taste peaty!