If it hadn’t been for the Coronavirus I would have been out and about this weekend, warming up for the Islay walking week in a week’s time. But obviously neither of that is happening or will happen. So I thought I should have at least some treat. During my last shopping trip I decided to raid the Easter egg aisle even though the chocolate is vastly overpriced in comparison to a normal bar of the same chocolate. But I found something I thought a bit different. Yesterday evening I decided to let some of my Twitter followers pick which one of two Bruichladdich valinches I should open. Here’s the outcome, here’s what I enjoyed today:
The whisky is a Bruichladdich Port Charlotte heavily peated Islay single malt, SHC: 01, 2006. Cask 2134, first fill sherry. Distilled 4/Oct/2006, aged 11 years. My bottle is number 918 of 1,134.
The chocolate is a “single origin dark chocolate teardrop”. Or to be precise, “an intense dark chocolate decorated egg in a golden shimmer using Fino De Aroma cocoa beans sourced from Colombia”.
I’m not going to bore you with tasting notes, my taste buds aren’t developed enough to do much good there. But I can say the whisky tastes fantastic, nice and fiery (that’s as far as I go). The chocolate is nice as well, although I didn’t taste anything different with the golden shimmer (which if I interpret the ingredients list correctly isn’t real gold anyway, but Iron Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. Sorry to disappoint you on that side).
Oh, and for those of you interested in the result of the poll, the SHC won with 17 votes out of 29. If I remember correctly it had an even higher lead earlier on, but the VOC pulled back a bit in the later stages (the poll was open for about 13-14 hours). I haven’t decided when yet, but there’s a good chance the VOC will also be opened at some point during or shortly after the lockdown.
The cousin of a friend of mine has an uncle who works in the White House who has a colleague who has access to the innermost circle of the American president. From him we’ve just learned about this most fascinating development:
Donald Trump is planning to buy Islay. All of it. The whole island.
Remember the story about Donald Trump wanting to buy Greenland? As you probably know that plan failed. So now Trump has set his sights elsewhere. And picked Islay. In a secret transcript Trump says:
Islay is such a tremendous island, it has the bestest whiskey in the whole world, Americans love it. Islay is hugely popular! When there’s a feature about Islay on the TV the ratings go up in England, it’s bigger than a Premier League game or Dance Off!! Amazing!!! So I’m going to buy it for America.
secret White House transcript
Trump is understood to have reached out to the Scottish and British government to negotiate the deal, believed to be worth in the trillions if Trump is successful with his outrageous bid. Trump also said:
This will be an amazing deal we will offer Scotchland. And once we’ve completed it I will proclaim my beautiful daughter Ivanka as the first queen of Islay. We will also introduce the proper spelling of whiskey to Islay and teach everyone how to best enjoy a stiff Islay scotch, with a nice big lump of fresh Alaskan ice!
secret White House transcript
This will certainly be a developing story to watch…..
Let’s visit some Islay beaches from the air. Stuart Lewis visited Islay in 2018 and filmed a variety of beaches ranging from the Singing Sands over Kilchoman beach to the small beach at the pier in Port Charlotte from his drone. Take a look:
I hope you enjoyed this aerial tour of some of Islay’s beautiful sunny beaches. Which beach is your favourite?
An Gleann was founded by Jane Mitchell almost 15 years ago as a small cottage business on the Rhinns of Islay a couple of miles outside of Port Charlotte on the road to Portnahaven. As the name says, they make tablet, a Scottish speciality. Being on Islay there’s of course a connection to the famous Islay whisky with the Whisky Connoisseur series. I hope you’ll find something you like.
It’s time for another nice Islay video, I think. This time created by Naoki Otsuki from Japan (and Canada). The video takes us around Islay, showing various kinds of scenery. It’s a bit different than many other videos, looking closer at the finer details and sometimes taking a different perspective. I very much enjoyed it, I hope you will as well:
Naoki spent five days on Islay, check out the video description on YouTube for the details of what they did while on Islay.
As mentioned in my post about supporting Islay businesses during and after the Coronavirus pandemic I’m planning to write about various Islay (and Jura) based businesses over the coming weeks and months. I’m hoping that they will be able to continue working in some way provided it is safe and sensible (and permitted) to do so and in some cases still fulfil online orders. If they can’t I’m hoping we can help them to rebuild once life starts to return to normal. With that let’s get started, admittedly with a rather obvious choice considering how often we’ve been asked to wash our hands:
The company in question is of course Spirited Soaps founded by Ailsa Hayes over a decade ago. As the name implies the main product is …. soap. Soap with an Islay touch.
Spirited Soaps is working with the various Islay distilleries, offering a variety of solid and liquid soaps. There’s also a very nice lip balm, which I use after my Islay visits (I think the combination of sunshine and wind makes my lips dry out). Take a look and hopefully you’ll find something you like.
Quite tired tonight after an exhausting week, so no difficult posting tonight, just a simple video with a bunch of nice Islay views. There are plenty of drone videos out there now, I think this is one of the better ones. Nice and calm, allowing us to really enjoy the views of some of the famous sights of Islay:
I hope you enjoyed the views of the Rhinns of Islay lighthouse, Portnahaven, Bowmore (incl distillery and Round Church), Seal Bay on the south coast and the American Monument on the Oa
When wrote that I wasn’t going to be able to visit Islay for the foreseeable future because of the Coronavirus pandemic I mentioned that I was I aware this was going to hit many local businesses, but that I didn’t have a solution to help them. I also believe (and fear) that we’re going to have to live with the various restrictions related to “social distancing” (I know, horrible term, I hope we can find something better) for quite some time. Just today Calmac announced that they wouldn’t accept any new advance bookings until 15/Jul. From everything I’ve read and seen so far I wouldn’t be surprised if certainly the first phase will last 4-6 months and there will be impacts for at least 12-18 months, depending on how quick a vaccine can be delivered. I know nobody wants to hear that, but I believe (and fear) that’s realistic. So what can we do to help local businesses? I still don’t have a solution (and probably never will), but at least there are some first shoots and ideas:
While the main hit will of course be on direct tourism businesses like accommodation providers, tour guides and transport businesses (and I freely admit I don’t have clue how to help them) there will be a secondary impact on a lot of smaller makers. Small businesses with one or only a handful of employees, producing a variety of goods, often related to local materials and traditions. They often heavily rely on tourists buying their products, be it in their own premises, be it at tourism attractions. With hardly any or even no tourists coming at the moment they lose a large chunk or even all of their income. At least some of them also sell online (or will soon) and at least as long as they can still ship their orders this is where Rhoda’s idea comes in:
You might have noticed that for this post I’ve created a new category, “Islay Businesses”. There’s of course a reason for that. I’m going to try to promote a number of Islay (and Jura and Colonsay) businesses here over the coming weeks, in particular those who also sell online in some shape or form. It might help, it might not, but I’m certainly going to try. In the current situation I think we’ve got to just try everything possible.
As for obvious reasons we can’t travel to Islay at the moment and the Islay festival 2020 was cancelled today I will try to ramp up posting here again. I’ll try to find and share as many Islay things as I can over the coming weeks (or even months), so that you don’t have to search for it. Of course I will not find everything, so if you come across something you think worth sharing by all means let me know. Cats, kittens, dogs and other cute animals are always a bonus, so the video I’m going to start with contains a cat:
I hope you enjoyed the video and spotted the Islay cat. If you have a cute cat/ dog/ other animal, can film it being cute and upload it to YouTube let me know and I’ll share it.
Unless you live in a cave (or the Big Brother house in Germany) this post probably won’t contain any huge surprises. With a heavy heart I’ve just cancelled my upcoming Islay visit in April. Regular readers and anyone who knows me will be aware how important in particular that visit is to me in the annual calendar, as it is the Islay walking week. I also fear my usual visit in June might not happen.
This whole situation is obviously also very bad and concerning for many small businesses on Islay, in particular in the tourism sector and related other businesses. If tourists don’t visit Islay these businesses lose their income, in worst case they might even go bankrupt and lose their business. I understand all of the Islay distilleries have closed their visitor centres until further notice, another hit to Islay’s tourism industry. I don’t know what the answer/ solution to this is, all I know is that continuing as if nothing was happening is not an option. I don’t think anyone would want the UK to be in a situation similar to Italy where hundreds of people die and medical staff in the hospitals have to make decisions who they are going to save and who they are going to let die because they simply don’t have the capacities.
What I do know is that the money I’m not spending now will find its way to Islay at some point. As soon as it is safe and possible to travel again I will return to catch up.