Two Islay whisky news links this evening, one I consider to be a good news, the other is more bad news. Pour yourself a wee dram of a good Islay single malt whisky and read on:
Let me start with the not so good news: The Times (£ or registration required to read full article, sorry) reports Business Rates – Rises pour misery on island distilleries. For the big distilleries while not nice I should think they will be able to manage. For the smaller independent ones I think a 40% increase will be quite a bit tougher.
Remember the Vote for Islay High at FilmG 2017 post from a month ago? Some excellent news this evening, as via Twitter I’ve just learned that the Islay High School / Àrd-sgoil Ìle submission has won in the Best Learners (‘The film where the Gaelic dialogue is best orated in a clear and fluid manner, from a class of Gaelic learners.’) category:
No, I don’t know if their pizza oven will be peat fired. I don’t even know when it will open. All I know is that (hopefully soon) a new pizzeria will open on Islay. In Shore Street in Bowmore to be precise, in the building that most recently housed the Holy Coo restaurant.
Yes, it’s the first of the month. No, it’s not April. It’s February. In other words, this is not an April Fools. Some rather interesting news have come out about Islay and whisky legend (or is it whisky and Islay legend?) Jim McEwan in connection with the currently under construction Ardnahoe distillery overlooking the Sound of Islay. From the press release:
World-renowned whisky distiller Jim McEwan has been appointed Production Director of Ardnahoe Distillery on Islay – 18 months after he retired.
The Islay-born whisky industry icon, who has 53 years’ experience under his belt, has been hired by Hunter Laing & Co, the family-run Glasgow whisky company behind Ardnahoe, the first distillery to be built on Islay for more than a decade.
Ardnahoe is being built on the north-east coast of Islay and will become the ninth distillery on the island. It expects to start distilling whisky in early 2018.
As Production Director at Ardnahoe Distillery, McEwan is playing a pivotal role at the distillery for the Laing family – father Stewart and sons Andrew and Scott. From shaping its design and installing his preferred pieces of distilling equipment, to fine-tuning the production processes and selecting casks, he will influence every step of the whisky-making journey at Ardnahoe.
The distillery, which will include a visitor centre café, shop and tasting room, will produce traditional peated Islay single malt.
McEwan will also work on a number of other as-yet-secret creative projects that are sure to make waves across the spirits world.
Many will of course know Jim from his roles at Bruichladdich and Bowmore in his previous lives. As Master Distiller at Bruichladdich he’s remembered for famous whiskies like the Octomore and the mysterious Black Art. Not to forget bringing gin to Islay with The Botanist. Before joining Bruichladdich he had spent 38 years at Bowmore distillery in almost every role imaginable after starting his career there in 1963 as a 15 year old apprentice cooper.
Jim is quoted as saying:
I had intended to ride off into the sunset, but I’ve known Stewart for many years and have always been impressed with Hunter Laing whisky. When the call came in, it really excited me.
It felt as though the stars were aligning; the amazing location, my history with Islay, my relationship with the Laing family, their passion for the project, the calibre of architect Iain Hepburn, plus my chance to get involved with the design of the distillery for the first time in my career, all made it feel like it was ‘meant to happen’.
Similarly Andrew Laing, Director of Hunter Laing & Co, said:
It’s hard to think of anyone better qualified than Jim McEwan to develop the character of the newest Islay malt whisky. Jim has lived and breathed Islay whisky his whole life and is bringing all of his passion and knowledge to Ardnahoe Distillery. The three of us are hugely impressed with the whiskies he’s produced in the past and can sleep easy knowing that he is in ultimate charge of whisky-making at Ardnahoe
For further news and updates you can follow @Ardnahoe distillery on Twitter, including expected announcements about their planned participation in the Islay Festival in late May.
I’ve heard of various ways to get across the North Channel from Islay to Ireland (or vice versa). By plane. By boat (mainly RIB). By Laser sailing dinghy. By kayak. By stand up paddle board. I don’t think I’ve heard of swimming before. That might be about to change:
I don’t know more than is mentioned in the blog post New Swimspiration, The Celtic Quadrant (and the links posted there) I came across today. Of the four swims included in the quadrant one is the following:
The Oa Channel Swim, a 45 km 6-person relay between the Isle of Islay and Ireland in 11°C to 13°C water at £200 per swimmer with a window between 15–20 July 2017 with an estimated time of 18+ hours for crossing.
I’ve lost count how many times a team from Islay High School / Àrd-sgoil Ìle has submitted an entry to the annual FilmG (GD/EN) competition, it’s certainly been many times. It’s an annual event where young people write, film and edit a short film in Gaelic (hence the G in the name). This year’s entry is called ‘Air Splaoid’ and many will recognise events portrait in the movie:
For those who (like me) don’t have the Gaelic, here’s the English description:
Five school friends are all packed ready to go to FilmG Awards in Glasgow when they discover the ferry’s cancelled. They set off on a trip to find alternative means of transport to the mainland and some funny things happen on the way.
You can do this on the two pages for their submission, Air Splaoid GD and Air Splaoid EN. They are both for the same film, just the text on the page is in Gaelic and English respectively. Click on the yellow ‘Vote’ button and you’re done. You can vote once a day, voting is open until February. Hopefully we will see Islay High at the awards ceremony in Glasgow on 17/February.
The header remains the same (well, OK, I had to tweak it slightly to fit in here), it’s still the familiar view of the Loch Indaal lighthouse with the Paps of Jura in the distance, one of my favourite views on Islay. The content of the blog will largely remain the same as well, as will the categories. I’m going to retire at least one of them though, with the Islay Pictures Photoblog going strong I’ve decided to retire the Friday Islay Picture. I’m undecided on the Islay blogging roundup, time permitting I might revive that one. In a way I’m still fond of the idea. Apart from that I’m going to blog about essentially the same as before, anything Islay (or Jura, Colonsay, Gigha and may be even Kintyre) related I come across. Videos, pictures, news, stories, fun things, events, businesses, short snippets, longer texts, links, updates and whatever else crosses my path.
I hope you will join me here on the new blog if you were a reader of the old blog and I hope to may be gain a few new readers as well. I’m keen to make it a dialog as well, the comments are open for everyone, so don’t be shy and make your voice heard (within reason of course, you’ll be in my house after all).
That’s all for now, enjoy the new blog. Oh, and if everything goes to plan I’ll have another Christmas present for you later today. Watch this blog…