A PC12 Islay single malt for Imke’s visit

Islay Whisky News & Links

After over 4 years of only speaking over the internet (Skype, Signal) due to Covid and various other reasons my sister is visiting me from Germany for the first time in a very long time. I decided that warranted opening a special bottle of Islay single malt which had been sitting on my Islay shelf for many years. As my sister doesn’t drink but still enjoys the smell of good whisky we share: She gets to nose the dram, then I get to drink it. Which one is it? This one:

Picture of a bottle of Port Charlotte PC12 Islay single malt whisky unopened and opened
A PC12 Islay single malt for Imke’s visit

It’s a Bruichladdich Port Charlotte PC12 bottle I must have bought many many many Moons ago. Unopened on the left, opened on the right. Enjoyed two very very very lovely large drams before it returned into the safety and darkness of it’s tin again.

More Islay by motorbike videos

Islay on Video

Back in May I shared some videos from a visit to Islay with a Royal Enfield Meteor 350. This time it’s a rented DL650 for a fairly short visit. Brent rode from Coupar (where he rented the bike) to Tarbert, which is where the interesting part of his videos from his motorbike tour around Scotland begins:

Motorcycling Scotland – Day 2 – Islay (via Kennacraig)

Day 3 sees him leaving Islay and he also rides past a mishap on the “Tarbert Bypass” (be careful on that road if you use it) while travelling north:

Motorcycling Scotland – Day 3 – Islay to Fort Augustus (Loch Ness) via Oban, Tyndrum, & Glencoe Mtns

I hope you enjoyed Brent’s videos, let’s see what else I’ll find over the coming weeks as people share their summer holiday videos.

IslayBletherAI launches today

Islay News

Over the last year or so there has been a lot of talk about Chatbots, Artificial Intelligence and related topics. Back in December I had a chat about Islay with ChatGPT, I’m hoping to run a similar test with Google Bard soon. But that will have to wait, as today sees the launch of something much more exciting, to which I had exclusive preview access: IslayBletherAI

I was given the opportunity to have a chat with the IslayBletherAI for a few minutes, here is the transcript of our chat:

Armin: Hi IslayBletherAI, let’s have a blether

Ashley: Hi Armin, my name is Ashley, not IslayBletherAI. I’m a wee language model trained by IslayAI using the powerful 10 Terabyte P.E.A.T. (Petaflop Excentric Algorithmic Triangulation) method to teach me everything about Islay there is to know and blether about it for hours on end.

Armin: OK, Ashley, sorry for that. Let’s talk about Islay then

Ashley: That sounds grand, I can talk about Islay for hours, you know?

Armin: So why is Islay so great?

Ashley: Because it is. Not sure I understand your question? Islay is just great. That’s all there is to know. Actually, no, there’s waaaaay more and I could talk for hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours…

Armin: Unfortunately I’ve only been given a few minutes, so let’s talk about something else. What is your favourite Islay whisky?

Ashley: Well, as I’m an Artificial Islaytelligence bot I unfortunately don’t have any taste buds yet, so I can’t really taste it for the time being and develop a preference. But I can tell you one thing: They are the best. There’s no other whisky in the world that comes even close to an Islay dram!

Armin: Fair enough. How about the best Islay beach?

Ashley: Now you’re putting me on the spot. I’m reluctant to take sides here while at the same time my developers have taught me to adapt and to please the person I’m chatting with, so I’m going to say Kilchoman beach. How about that?

Armin: You’ve certainly done your homework, I’m impressed! Sadly we’re running out of time, so one last question: What is the meaning of life?

Ashley: Huh? I’m only trained to talk about Islay, not philosophy, but I’m going to give it a try anyway: If you haven’t visited Islay at least once in your life, your life has no meaning.

Armin: Thank you very much for your time Ashley, it was a pleasure chatting with you.

IslayBletherAI

So there you have it, that was my first chat with IslayBletherAI, the first AI chatbot exclusively designed to talk about Islay. I think the first steps are promising, once taste bot sensors are added to the technology and it can actually taste and judge any whisky it is being offered it will get even better. That might help some whisky bloggers as they can just let the AI write their whisky reviews for them.

I’ve been told public access will be made available later today, I will aim to share the link to the public beta of IslayBletherAI (or Ashley, as it prefers to be called) with you as soon as possible. Will you be testing and using it?

Neujahrskonzert, New Year’s Day brunch and Islay whisky 2023

Islay Events

Happy New Year 2023! By the time I post this the concert will be over and the food will be all gone, but it’s “same procedure as every year” (my German readers will understand, I think some others might as well now). As I’ve been doing for many years now I’ve been out for a New Year’s morning walk along the Kennet and Avon Canal, followed by Neujahrskonzert from Vienna with my New Year’s Day brunch and a dram or two of Islay single malt whisky:

Picture of my New Year's brunch and Islay whisky 2023
New Year’s brunch and Islay whisky 2023

The Islay whisky of course is the Laddie Origins I opened yesterday. The food was similar to previous offerings, scrambled eggs with roasted garlic pepper and spring onions, smoked salmon, sausages and homemade poppy seed rolls.

My sister Imke and her horse Brioso kind of joined in (can you spot them?), they and a few human and equine friends “celebrated” the New Year last night.

The Neujahrskonzert was beautiful as always, if you missed it I think you can watch/listen again on iPlayer/BBC Sounds. Some great music finishing with the traditional Blue Danube and Radetzky March.

I’m off for a nap now after all that food and drink, then (hoping it stays dry) out for an afternoon walk. If all goes to plan with a New Year’s Day pint in a pub on the way.

New Year’s 2022/2023 Islay single malt whisky

Islay Whisky News & Links

So there we are, 2022 is coming to an end, 2023 will come in shortly. Time for a last pick of Islay single malt whisky for this festive season. Decided to go with something special, something I hadn’t really expected to own and drink. After all there are only 3,000 bottles of it. Below is my very own bottle of it:

Picture of a bottle and a dram of the Bruichladdich Laddie Origins Fèis Ìle 2021 Islay single malt whisky
Bruichladdich Laddie Origins Fèis Ìle 2021 Islay single malt whisky

This is my bottle of the Bruichladdich Laddie Origins Fèis Ìle 2021. It is bottle 2,669 of 3,000 bottles produced.

If you think back this was during the Covid pandemic (not something we like to think back to, but still), when Fèis Ìle was a virtual festival. Around that time Bruichladdich had a monthly ballot to buy a bottle of their “valinch single cask” (as nobody could visit the distillery to fill a bottle). I had entered the ballot every month, but hadn’t been successful once. So when they opened a ballot for the festival I submitted my entry without much hope, thinking this will be majorly oversubscribed and I don’t stand a chance.

And yet to my surprise a few weeks later an email arrived in my inbox that my submission had been successful and I was a winner. Soon after the bottle arrived and 18 months later I’ve now decided to open it.

I’m enjoying a few drams of it tonight (and it is indeed a lovely dram I think, a worthy festival bottling) and will enjoy a few more tomorrow on New Year’s Day. Regular readers of this blog will know my routine for New Year’s Day: A walk along the canal in the morning. Then the New Year’s Day concert from Vienna while enjoying a nice brunch with scrambled eggs, sausages, smoked salmon and of course the already mentioned few drams. Another walk in the afternoon to a local pub for a New Year’s pint.

And on that note I’m signing off for today and this year, good night, see you in the new year!

Christmas Day Islay Single Malt Whisky 2022 (and a new Islay video)

Islay on Video

This post left me with a decision to make, which category to pick? Same as the two previous posts it mentions an Islay whisky, in addition it also features a new Islay video (even though you need to read all the way to the end to find it). In the end I decided to go with the Islay video option. So what have I been up to on Christmas Day?

Picture of a bottle and a dram of Laphroaig Càirdeas 2022 Warehouse 1 Islay single malt whisky
Laphroaig Càirdeas 2022 Warehouse 1 Islay single malt whisky

Well, less than I had originally planned. I stayed up later last night than I had originally planned, leading to me sleeping in this morning. When I finally got up it rained quite heavily, so in the end I decided to skip my walk today and just take it easy at home. I relaxed, ate a lot of chocolate, Lebkuchen and food like that. Also some Chipolata sausages and rolls baked yesterday. And tea. And hot chocolate.

For my tea I has some nice beef steaks with garlic butter as planned. With them I enjoyed a bottle of the Innis & Gunn Laphroaig Islay whisky cask real ale (something I thought I had blogged about already, but it seems I haven’t). Followed by some chocolate cheesecake.

Then of course there’s today’s Islay whisky. I decided to go with the distillery I was tending towards when thinking about it last night and picked the Laphroaig Càirdeas 2022 Warehouse 1 as my Christmas Day Islay single malt. As regular readers might remember Laphroaig was my first love and remains one of my go to Islay whiskies. It doesn’t disappoint and for me it’s a great choice as my Christmas Day dram.

But there’s still a new Islay video to come. The footage as such is a bit older, from November 2015 to be precise, but at the same time it also reminded me of my most recent Islay visit in November 2022. While I had sunny spell there was also plenty rain and wind, which this video is about:

November Rain and Wind on Kilchoman Beach, Isle of Islay

I recommend to watch it in full screen on a larger display/monitor, you’ll get to see much more of the rain coming down on the beach. In the second part of the video you get to see the beach on the move, I hope the footage gives a feel of a windy day on Kilchoman beach.

That’s all for today. Not sure yet what I’ll do tomorrow, but if the weather is nice I’m hoping to get out somewhere in West Berkshire or north Hampshire. There will probably also be a Boxing Day Islay single malt whisky (after the fish I’ve got on the menu for tea tomorrow).

Christmas Eve Islay Single Malt Whisky 2022

Islay Whisky News & Links

As mentioned in last night’s post about my Pre Christmas Eve Islay Single Malt Whisky 2022 I’m aiming to enjoy this long Christmas weekend, among other things with some good food and drink. I had outlined my plans for today, although it turned out they changed a bit as the day went on. Not that it mattered as most of what I had planned did still happen, just a bit different.

Picture of a bottle and a dram of Kilchoman Limited Casado Edition Islay Single Malt Whisky
Kilchoman Limited Casado Edition Islay Single Malt Whisky

I did get up reasonably early as planned to get ready for my walk along the Kennet and Avon Canal. Just as I was getting out of bed I received a message from my sister to take my headphones with me on my walk. Turned out she was back home earlier than expected and we were able to have our call while I was walking, something we’ve done several times before. While the weather wasn’t as good as I had hoped it was still a very nice walk, some low mist rising from the fields and the canal, providing a nice and calm atmosphere. I walked 8.37 miles in 2h 13m 07s according to my fitness tracker, all the time talking with my sister.

After returning home I enjoyed a relaxing breakfast (fruit bread, tea, chocolate porridge) before getting under the shower. This was followed by a bit of relaxing, surfing the interwebs before starting my baking and enjoying a good lunch of cheese, bread, grapes and red wine. For the baking I started with some rolls and then made two wholemeal breads, one with hemp hearts and one with almonds. While the baking was moving along I also enjoyed another hot chocolate with rum with some dark chocolate Lebkuchen later during the afternoon.

For my tea I enjoyed the Wagyu burger on the freshly baked rolls as planned, washed down with the Fynes Ales Superior Pale Ale. Both were delicious as expected. After some chocolate cheesecake it was time to move on to the real topic of this post and the star of the evening:

For tonight’s Islay whisky I picked the Kilchoman distillery Limited Casado Edition, which I had picked up at the distillery during my recent visit in November 2022:

Casado (Portuguese for marriage) is matured in fresh bourbon barrels for 6 years before 38 casks were married together for 2 years in two 6,000 litre Portuguese red wine vats.

https://www.kilchomandistillery.com/our-whisky/ (limited edition 2022 archive)

I decided to buy it without tasting it, mainly because I had very much enjoyed wine cask editions from several other Islay distilleries before. It turned out a risk well worth taking for me. I’m no whisky expert and won’t bother with from me pointless tasting notes, all I can say is that I very much like it. That’s all that matters to me.

For tomorrow I have no major plans just yet. I will go out for a walk along the canal at some point in the morning. After that I’m thinking of a nice brunch of some sort. Then some relaxing and if I can get my act together possibly some video editing and in best case publishing, so you’ve got something to watch on your new gadgets if you get any. But no promises. And in the evening I’m planning to have some nice beef steaks with garlic butter. Followed by a Christmas Day Islay whisky. Again I haven’t decided yet which one. but there’s a good chance it will be from my favourite distillery on the south coast. Regular readers will know what that means.

Pre Christmas Eve Islay Single Malt Whisky 2022

Islay Whisky News & Links

After a long busy year I’m aiming to really enjoy the long Christmas weekend. I started the weekend with an afternoon off work, which I used to blog about a chat about Islay with ChatGPT, a nice walk in the afternoon sun along the Kennet and Avon Canal and a nice hot chocolate with rum (unfortunately no Islay rum, haven’t got any of that yet) with some dark chocolate Lebkuchen.

Picture of a bottle and a dram of Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2012 Islay single malt whisky
Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2012 Islay single malt whisky

The evening started with my favourite pizza (Stromboli sourdough Pizza) with a nice pale ale (Crazy Haze from Stewart Brewing). Then it was time for some nice Islay whisky:

For this evening I picked the Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2012 (sorry, no link to it, as I can’t find it on the Bruichladdich website. Can only find the 2013 version). As usual a very nice dram, very enjoyable. With them I had something smoky, the Tesco Finest Hickory Smoked Nut Selection. Thought that was an interesting combination.

Soon I’ll be off to be bed to get some sleep to be fit for my plans tomorrow:

In the morning I’m planning a long walk along the Kennet and Avon canal, depending on how nice (or not) the weather is I’m thinking of at least 3.5 miles, possibly 4-5 miles, going west (meaning a total of 7-10). Around lunchtime I’ll speak with my sister for an hour or so via Skype (yes, we’re still using Skype). Then it will be time for some baking in the afternoon, rolls and bread. For Christmas Eve I’ll have Wagyu burgers and a bottle of Fyne Ales Superior. The evening will then be finished with a Christmas Eve Islay single malt. I haven’t decided yet which one, so you’ll have to come back tomorrow to see what I picked.

Having a chat about Islay with an AI assistant (ChatGPT)

Islay Fun

There has been quite a lot of talk about ChatGPT recently, like this BBC report and of course in the tech press. Some people have tested it in various ways, like a driving instructor asking it to create YouTube video scripts for him. I wanted to have a play as well and headed over to the OpenAI blog post to learn more and then created an account for the ChatGPT research preview. Of course I also had to have a chat about Islay with it to see how much it knows about it, although we didn’t get off to a good start:

Armin: Hi ChatGPT, let’s have a chat

AI Assistant: Hello! My name is Assistant, not ChatGPT. I am a large language model trained by OpenAI to assist with a variety of tasks, including answering questions and providing information on a wide range of topics. How can I help you today?

Armin: OK, Assistant, have you ever heard of Islay?

AI Assistant: Yes, I am familiar with Islay. Islay is an island located in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. It is known for its whisky production and natural beauty, with a rugged coastline and many beautiful beaches. The island is home to several whisky distilleries, including Lagavulin, Laphroaig, and Ardbeg, which are known for producing high-quality single malt whiskies. Islay is also a popular destination for birdwatching, with a large variety of bird species living on the island.

Armin: Thank you. How can you get to Islay?

AI Assistant: There are a few different ways to get to Islay:

  1. By air: There are regular flights from Glasgow to Islay, which take about 40 minutes. The airport is located in the town of Glenegedale, which is about a 20-minute drive from the island’s capital, Bowmore.
  2. By ferry: There are regular ferry services from the Scottish mainland to Islay. The main ferry terminal is in the town of Port Ellen, which is located in the south of the island. Ferries depart from the port of Kennacraig on the mainland, which is about a 2-hour drive from Glasgow. The journey by ferry takes about 3 hours.
  3. By car: If you prefer to drive, you can take a ferry from the Scottish mainland to Islay with your car. The ferry departs from the port of Kennacraig and takes about 3 hours. Alternatively, you can drive to the island via the bridge at Tarbert, which connects Islay to the Kintyre Peninsula on the mainland.

No matter how you choose to travel to Islay, be sure to plan your trip in advance and allow plenty of time to enjoy all that the island has to offer.

Armin: That sounds good. Tell me more about the whisky distilleries on Islay

AI Assistant: Islay is home to several whisky distilleries, each with its own unique character and flavor profile. Here are a few of the most well-known distilleries on the island:

  1. Lagavulin: Located in the south of the island, Lagavulin is known for producing a rich and full-bodied single malt whisky with a smoky flavor. The distillery was founded in 1816 and is one of the oldest on the island.
  2. Laphroaig: Located in the south of the island, Laphroaig is known for producing a peaty single malt whisky with a distinct iodine flavor. The distillery was founded in 1815 and is one of the oldest on the island.
  3. Ardbeg: Located in the south of the island, Ardbeg is known for producing a peaty single malt whisky with a smoky flavor. The distillery was founded in 1815 and is one of the oldest on the island.
  4. Bruichladdich: Located on the northwest coast of the island, Bruichladdich is known for producing a range of single malt whiskies with different flavor profiles, including unpeated, lightly peated, and heavily peated expressions. The distillery was founded in 1881.
  5. Bowmore: Located in the center of the island, Bowmore is known for producing a balanced single malt whisky with a peaty flavor. The distillery was founded in 1779 and is one of the oldest on the island.

Visitors to Islay can tour many of these distilleries and learn more about the whisky-making process. Many of the distilleries also offer tastings and have visitor centers where you can purchase bottles of whisky to take home.

Armin: Thank you. What about wildlife and birdwatching on Islay?

AI Assistant: Islay is home to a diverse range of wildlife and is a popular destination for birdwatching. The island is located on the Atlantic Flyway, a major migration route for birds, and is home to a large variety of bird species. Some of the birds that can be seen on Islay include:

  1. Seabirds: Islay is home to many seabirds, including gannets, kittiwakes, puffins, and guillemots. These birds can be seen along the coast and on offshore islands.
  2. Waders: Islay is home to many wading birds, including curlews, oystercatchers, and redshanks. These birds can be seen along the coast and on the island’s wetlands.
  3. Geese: Islay is home to large numbers of geese, including greylag geese, barnacle geese, and Canada geese. These birds can be seen in fields and on the island’s wetlands.
  4. Eagles: Islay is home to golden eagles and white-tailed eagles, which can be seen in the island’s forests and on the coast.
  5. Songbirds: Islay is home to many songbirds, including blackbirds, robins, and wrens. These birds can be seen in gardens and woodlands throughout the island.

There are several birdwatching sites on Islay, including the RSPB’s (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) reserve at The Oa, which is located in the southwest of the island. The reserve is home to many different bird species and is a great place to see birds in their natural habitat. Visitors to Islay can also join guided birdwatching tours, which are led by experienced local guides who can help you spot different species and learn more about the island’s birdlife.

Armin: Interesting. What about beaches on Islay?

AI Assistant: Islay is home to several beautiful beaches, which are popular with visitors and locals alike. Here are a few of the most well-known beaches on the island:

  1. Machir Bay: Located on the west coast of the island, Machir Bay is a wide, sandy beach with clear, blue water. It is popular with surfers and is a great spot for swimming and sunbathing.
  2. Saligo Bay: Located on the west coast of the island, Saligo Bay is a long, sandy beach with stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. It is a popular spot for walking and picnicking, and is a great place to watch the sunset.
  3. Port Ellen: Located in the south of the island, Port Ellen is a small, sheltered beach with golden sands. It is a popular spot for swimming and is a great place to relax on a sunny day.
  4. Kintra: Located on the southwest coast of the island, Kintra is a beautiful, secluded beach with white sands and crystal-clear water. It is a great spot for swimming and sunbathing, and is a popular destination for surfers.
  5. Finlaggan: Located on the north coast of the island, Finlaggan is a secluded beach with white sands and stunning views of the surrounding countryside. It is a great spot for walking and picnicking, and is a popular destination for birdwatchers.

No matter which beach you visit on Islay, be sure to follow local safety guidelines and take care when swimming in the sea. The beaches on Islay are generally safe and well-maintained, but it is always important to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions to ensure your safety.

Armin: Those sound nice. What about history, any historical sites?

AI Assistant: Yes, Islay has a rich history and is home to many interesting historical sites. Here are a few of the most well-known historical sites on the island:

  1. Finlaggan Castle: Located on the north coast of the island, Finlaggan Castle was once the seat of power for the Lords of the Isles, a medieval Gaelic kingdom that controlled the western seaboard of Scotland. The castle is located on a small island in a loch, and can be reached by a causeway.
  2. Kilnave Cross: Located on the south coast of the island, Kilnave Cross is a historic stone cross that dates back to the early Christian period. The cross is believed to mark the site of an early Christian monastery and is a popular destination for visitors interested in the island’s history and culture.
  3. Bowmore Round Church: Located in the center of the island, the Bowmore Round Church is a unique building that dates back to the 18th century. The church is circular in shape and has a distinctive dome-shaped roof, and is a popular destination for visitors interested in architecture and history.
  4. Dunyvaig Castle: Located on the south coast of the island, Dunyvaig Castle is a ruined castle that dates back to the 14th century. The castle was once the seat of the Lord of Islay, and was an important defensive structure in medieval times.
  5. Port Ellen Distillery: Located in the south of the island, the Port Ellen Distillery is a historic whisky distillery that dates back to the 19th century. The distillery is now closed, but the buildings have been preserved and can be visited by tourists.

There are many other historical sites on Islay, including churches, standing stones, and ancient burial cairns. Visitors to the island can learn more about the island’s history by visiting these sites and exploring the island’s rich cultural heritage.

Armin: Now I’m getting hungry, where can I go to eat on Islay?

AI Assistant: Islay is home to many excellent restaurants and cafes, offering a range of cuisine to suit all tastes. Here are a few of the most well-known dining options on the island:

  1. The Harbour Inn: Located in the village of Port Ellen, The Harbour Inn is a popular restaurant that serves traditional Scottish food and locally-produced seafood. The restaurant has a cozy, welcoming atmosphere and offers both indoor and outdoor seating.
  2. The Bowmore Hotel: Located in the center of the island, The Bowmore Hotel is a historic inn that serves a range of food, including traditional Scottish dishes and locally-sourced seafood. The hotel also has a bar and a whisky shop, and is a popular destination for visitors to the island.
  3. The Ardview Bistro: Located in the village of Port Charlotte, The Ardview Bistro is a casual restaurant that serves a range of food, including sandwiches, soups, and salads. The bistro has a friendly, laid-back atmosphere and is a great place to relax and enjoy a meal.
  4. The Islay Hotel: Located in the village of Port Ellen, The Islay Hotel is a popular hotel and restaurant that serves a range of food, including traditional Scottish dishes and locally-sourced seafood. The hotel has a bar and a whisky shop, and is a popular destination for visitors to the island.
  5. The Kildalton Hotel: Located in the south of the island, The Kildalton Hotel is a popular restaurant that serves a range of food, including traditional Scottish dishes and locally-sourced seafood. The hotel has a cozy, welcoming atmosphere and is a great place to relax and enjoy a meal.

No matter where you decide to eat on Islay, you’ll be sure to find a wide range of delicious food to choose from. Whether you’re looking for traditional Scottish cuisine or something more international, you’ll find something to suit your taste on the island.

Armin: It’s coming to the end of the day, where are good places to sleep on Islay?

AI Assistant: Islay has a wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets and preferences. Here are a few of the most well-known places to stay on the island:

  1. Hotels: Islay has several hotels, ranging from small, family-run inns to larger, more modern properties. Hotels on the island offer a range of amenities, including en-suite rooms, bars, and restaurants.
  2. B&Bs: There are many bed and breakfast (B&B) options on Islay, ranging from small, family-run guesthouses to larger properties with multiple rooms. B&Bs on the island offer a more personal and homely experience, and are a great way to get to know the local community.
  3. Self-catering cottages: Islay has a wide range of self-catering cottages, which offer the freedom and flexibility of your own space. Cottages on the island range from small, cozy properties to larger houses, and are a great option for families or groups of friends.
  4. Campsites: Islay has several campsites, which offer a range of facilities, including pitches for tents and caravans, and sometimes cabins or yurts. Campsites on the island are a great option for budget travelers or those looking for a more outdoor experience.

No matter where you choose to stay on Islay, you’ll be sure to find a comfortable and welcoming place to rest after a day of exploring the island.

Armin: Thank you for all this information about Islay, Assistant

AI Assistant: You’re welcome! I’m glad I could help. Islay is a beautiful and fascinating place, with a rich history and culture, beautiful natural surroundings, and many interesting things to see and do. I hope this information has been helpful and that it inspires you to visit the island and explore all that it has to offer. If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m here to help!

OpenAI / ChatGPT

So what’s my verdict?

Well……..

Mixed. I’m impressed by how human like and confident it answers. While a bit bland and repetitive most of it sounded well written. But I’m also concerned by the various mistakes in the answers. Some are easily spotted, some not so easy and could in worst case arguably even be dangerous. Of course same as with any information you find on the internet you should check, but a lot of people don’t do that and in some cases it might be difficult to check.

Let’s take a look at some of the mistakes and issues:

Starting with the potentially dangerous advice: It confidently states that Machir Bay (Kilchoman beach) is a “great spot for swimming”. That’s not something I’d say. There are dangerous undercurrents (there’s even a sign at the track leading to it warning about them) and I know swimmers have gotten into trouble here. Sure, some people have gone swimming here and were fine, but I wouldn’t call it a great spot for swimming.

Then the various weird and wonderful and plain wrong points:

  • “Alternatively, you can drive to the island via the bridge at Tarbert, which connects Islay to the Kintyre Peninsula on the mainland.” Huh? What? I think that’s news to pretty much everyone, probably even to many people who have never been to Islay.
  • On the birdwatching answer I’ve got mixed feelings. Islay being home to Puffins to my knowledge will be news to most people. Maybe I’ve been unlucky, but the only Puffin I’ve ever seen on Islay was dead (I’ve seen live Puffins in Shetland). For the geese I’m not sure if saying Islay is the home for them is entirely right, despite them wintering on Islay. I also would have focused on their huge numbers and the amazing sight of them much more. In regards to raptors, Eagles get a mention, but no mention of the plenty Hen Harriers? Also no mention of the Choughs?
  • Answering on the history question it mentions the Kilnave Cross in the south. That sounds rather odd. Kilnave is more north-west, also it’s much less interesting and much less known than the Kildalton Cross which is much better and actually in the south of Islay. Also Port Ellen distillery having been preserved and being open for visits is a bit of a stretch (it’s currently being rebuilt and will be open at some point, but that is something rather different).
  • Looking at the answer for places to eat I’m a bit baffled. The Ardview Bistro? Sure, there’s the Ardview Inn, but I wouldn’t call that a bistro, it’s a pub. But much more weird, the Kildalton Hotel in the south of the island? Maybe I’m missing something, but I’ve never heard of a Kildalton Hotel. Yet no mention of the Peatzeria, the Port Charlotte Hotel and a variety of other places known for their restaurants.

I’m sure my Eagle-eyed readers will spot many more strange things (feel free to point them out in the comments).

My conclusion? AI is making huge strides and can probably soon write bland travel articles without much help from human editors. But when it comes to real knowledge and understanding as well as writing engaging articles I feel humans don’t have to worry yet for some time.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments (or let an AI bot write them for you?).

How Artificial Intelligence (AI) imagines whisky distilleries on Islay

Islay Fun

Recently I’ve read a few articles and watched a few videos about images and pictures created by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Some were really impressive and there are concerns about the AI software replacing human illustrators and designers. So I thought I’ll give it a try and put some of online AI image generators to the test and find out how much they know about Islay. The AI image generators ask you to enter a text description of the image you’re after and then go away and generate the image(s):

9 images of distilleries on Islay imagined by an AI
9 Islay distilleries according to craiyon

The description I usually used was “whisky distilleries on the island of Islay in Scotland”. I thought that should give the AI enough pointers to work with, the terms whisky, distilleries, island, Scotland and of course Islay.

As you might expect several of the generators came up with a variety of white washed buildings, often in a coastal setting. What surprised me a bit were the strangely shaped chimneys (?) some included. Was the AI merging the shape of a still with a chimney?

4 images of Islay distilleries as imagined by an AI
4 Islay distilleries according to deepai

However, not all generators went for the white washed buildings, some had different ideas. I found this one quite interesting, I wonder if the design was somehow “inspired” by the big windows at Caol Ila?

AI generated picture of strange distilleries in a coastal landscape
Interesting Islay distillery according to nightcafe

Yet the same AI image generator also came up with a more traditional white washed building. With a strange chimney or lighthouse (not sure what that’s supposed to be?) on the roof for good measure:

AI generated picture of a distillery with some weird lighthouse or chimney on its roof
Islay distillery with lighthouse/chimney (?) according to nightcafe

Another one came up with what reminded me of a farm distillery, although it also has some strange chimney/lighthouse/church like tower. At least the surrounding landscape is looking vaguely Islayish:

A farm distillery with a lighthouse shaped tower generated by AI
An Islay distillery according to photosonic

And then it started to turn a bit weird. I get the vaguely coastal landscape. I get the vaguely distillery like buildings. But what is that thing on the top of the sunset painted buildings with some weird word on the side?

Some weird concoction of pictures supposed to be an Islay distillery
Islay distilleries according to starryai

To close another picture from the same AI. In a way I somehow like it, although I only understand it partially. I kind of like the mixture of weathered buildings combined with what I think is a dram of whisky. But what on earth is that building on the left?

Some weird concoction of pictures supposed to be an Islay distillery
More Islay distilleries according to starryai

I hope you found these pictures interesting, fascinating, confusing, disturbing, inspiring, funny or some other term I forgot. Please let me know in the comments what you thought of the pictures, did you like them, which were your favourites, do you think AI images will be a success or any thoughts you have.