20 years Friend of Laphroaig

Islay Whisky News & LinksThis is a post I wanted to write almost a month ago, unfortunately then my leg injury got in the way. Recovery is now well under way (this morning I walked 3 kilometres in I think just over half an hour) and I think I can allow myself a wee dram tonight. With that over to the real topic, one of the many factors which brought me to Islay and made me fall in love with it:

Scan of Armin Grewe's Friends of Laphroaig certificate
My original Friends of Laphroaig certificate from March 1998, a few months before I first set foot on Islay in August 1998

Earlier this year I came across my original Friends of Laphroaig certificate. I bought my first bottle of Laphroaig whisky (the standard 10yo, an expression I still enjoy regularly) in early 1998 and duly sent in my claim for my square foot of Islay. A few weeks later my certificate arrived. Iain Henderson was the distillery manager back then (he retired in 2002), so it is signed by him.

A few months later, on a rather wet August morning, I arrived on Islay for my first visit. The first distillery I visited was of course Laphroaig. There was no visitor centre back then, as far as I can remember I found the way to the reception where someone welcomed me and found a miniature bottle for my annual rent for me.

All of this is now 20 years ago (or will soon be), so with a month delay I’m going to open a bottle of Laphroaig Cairdeas tonight for a wee dram to celebrate being a Friend of Laphroaig for 20 years.

Laphroaig Islay distillery storyboards

Islay FunIs it art? Or is it just some computer generated images? Back in December I came across Google’s Storyboard app for Android (don’t know if there’s an iPhone equivalent), it turns videos into short comics. There are no settings, all you can do is to refresh to generate a new image. You can do this until you get one you like, which you can then save. Of course I had to test it with some of my Islay videos. Here are some of Laphroaig distillery I liked:

Laphroaig Islay distillery storyboard 1
Laphroaig Islay distillery storyboard in black and white

It can also do colour:

Laphroaig Islay distillery storyboard 2
Laphroaig Islay distillery storyboard in colour

What do you think? Worth experimenting a bit more or a waste of time?

smallcutemouse visits Islay

Islay FunThis morning I posted a picture of Sushi, chief mouse hunter at Caol Ila, on the photoblog. By coincidence or inspired by it (I’m not sure) John Hurst on Twitter alerted me to a special little visitor to Islay. I hope the smallcutemouse doesn’t get into any trouble with Sushi on a very enjoyable visit to Islay:

For more visit the smallcutemouse account on Instagram.

Vienna New Year’s Day concert and Islay Whisky Nibs

Islay Whisky News & LinksHappy New Year! As usual on New Year’s Day I’m listening to the New Year’s Day concert from Vienna while sipping an Islay single malt whisky (a Bruichladdich Port Charlotte valinch to be precise). Again as usual the waltzes and polkas, this year conducted by Riccardo Muti, are excellent, as is the whisky. What’s unusual this year is the chocolate I’m enjoying with it:

This year I’m having some Whisky Nibs from Chocolate Tree in Edinburgh. I can’t remember where exactly I came across them, I think it was some food or whisky blog. As the whisky they use is from Islay I of course had to order some.

Picture of a bar of whisky chocolate nibs next to a dram of Islay single malt whisky

Islay Whisky Chocolate Nibs. And some Islay whisky.The chocolate is very nice, a dark chocolate with 69% cocoa content from the Marañón canyon in Peru. The nibs make it nice and crunchy. With the whisky content in the single digit percentage the whisky taste for me was quite faint but detectable. I’m sure connoisseurs with better developed and trained taste buds will detect much more. I think well worth giving it a try (once available again, when I was writing this it was out of stock. I’m hoping they’re going to produce more).

And with that I’m returning to the New Year’s Day concert from Vienna, where as I’m typing this they’re playing An der schönen blauen Donau.

Islay April Fools 2017

Islay FunSorry, fun’s over. Admittedly pretty much all of you spotted immediately that the Haggis farm on Islay was an April Fools. But just in case you had any niggling doubts it might be true after all, it isn’t. No Haggis farm on Islay any time soon.

It wasn’t the only Islay related April Fools, Laphroaig also joined in with this product announcement:

Islay Ales announced the opening of an Artisan restaurant. Although it seems it was destroyed in a storm just hours later.

If there are any other Islay related ones I have missed please let me and other readers know via the comments.

Regular readers of this blog will know that April Fools jokes have a long tradition on this blog, here’s the obligatory list of the previous ones (on the old blog):

And that’s enough Islay April Fools. Let me see what I can come up with next year (it is getting more difficult…)

Unusual way to present Lagavulin Islay single malt whisky

Islay Whisky News & LinksI couldn’t help thinking of Colin Furze’s 20ft Fire Tornado Firework Launcher when I saw this (if you don’t know of Colin be warned, he’s a bit mad and has no interest in health and safety. Don’t do his stuff at home). I don’t know how Barin has achieved his video, although I suspect there might have been some computer animation involved. Anyway, here’s an unusual way to present a Lagavulin Islay single malt whisky:

I hope you enjoyed it, I found it quite fascinating watching it swirling around.

The palm trees on Islay and Jura … that aren’t

Islay FunA few years ago (well, let’s call it a decade ago) I wrote a post about what I believed to be palm trees on Islay and Jura. Except … they aren’t palm trees. Someone corrected me in the comments, but sadly those comments have since been lost. Recently I came across a post discussing these trees, so I thought it’s worth revisiting the topic so that I have something to refer to when it comes up again.

As mentioned in the previous post the trees in question can be found in a variety of locations on both Islay and Jura, including around Port Ellen, in Bruichladdich and also in the community garden in Bridgend (at least back in 2007, when this picture was taken):

Picture of a Cordyline Australis in a walled garden
Cordyline Australis in the Islay Community Garden in 2007

Update:

I must have had a hunch when I wrote this post and mentioned that the picture was from 2007. Sadly the tree has since been damaged in a storm, hopefully it will grow back to its former size. Many thanks to Steve Bavin of Islay Ales for the update!

Picture of a walled garden
The same view with a much reduced cabbage tree in Feb 2017 – picture credit Steve Bavin

End of update, original text continues below:

On Jura some of the best known ones can be spotted near the Jura Hotel garden, outside of the Jura distillery:

Picture of Cordyline Australis near a shore in a coastal village
Cordyline Australis in Craighouse on Jura

So what are these trees really if they are not palm trees? Well, we can read from some people from New Zealand (who should know them, as that’s where these trees are from), when visiting Jura in 2016 they taught the distillery staff about them. The tree is called Cordyline Australis, or cabbage tree. In the UK it is apparently also known as Torbay Palm and Torquay Palm, although that still doesn’t make it a palm tree. Among other things it doesn’t fare well in hot tropical climates, an area where you would expect palm trees to thrive.

So now you know, may be it will be helpful in a pub quiz one day?