Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Lightly Peated

Whisky, Blabber 'n' Smoke

Distillery Visits

And So It Ends

So the trip ended – standing on the deck of the ferry, looking back at the waves, looking at the shoreline for the last sight of the cottage and thinking ‘now it is all gone’. But of course that might not be the case. It’s gone for now but you can always come back… and I really, really want to. The sky, the sea, the empty landscape, the birds, and above all the distilleries all need to be experienced again; perhaps, slightly later in the year.

Even in march, though, Islay is a very warm place. Not the climate (though it is moderate for its latitude) but in its greeting. Everywhere, and in every distillery, people were friendly and welcoming and this made all the difference. The distilleries might define the island (nowhere makes more whisky per head) and bolster its economy and encourage tourism but the island is more than that. It is a place to come to appreciate remote beauty, the sea, the sky and birds. Looking at some green/grey moss on a stone, I was reminded of a line from one of the sagas of someone in exile from Iceland missing the beauty of different coloured moss.

All landscapes have their own emotional pull and I wanted to tie this to the whiskies.  I wanted to see the  buildings in their settings,  smell the atmosphere, sense the way the mood of the staff, observe the way they went about their work. I wanted to get an emotional feel and see if it would change my appreciation. It did. It also showed me, once more, that there are many ways  to be good. With the distilleries on Islay each was different but all were good. If I were to say that I loved the atmosphere of Laphroaig and Bruichladdich, I would have to then ask “well what about Ardbeg and Kilchoman aren’t they equally as good?” True! Every place had its own atmosphere: a feeling that the staff had a pride both in what they did and the product – that it was something worth celebrating.

It is both the whiskies and landscape from which they came were worth celebrating. I’m sure I will return.

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