Carol Anderson, owner of Canada based Grapescot, sent me an email a few weeks ago about her Islay Trip in September and told me that she had some fine one on one meetings with distillery managers and other good folks at all the distilleries. Grapescot by the way is a "Wine and Single Malt Whisky appreciation company, offering private, restaurant and corporate consulting, tastings and events". That explains why Carol is interested in the Islay distilleries and the people that work there. Carol wrote several blog posts about her visit and the first one is titled Islay, the wild, wonderful and welcoming whisky island in which she writes: "The moment I set foot on Islay, I knew that I was in love. Bumping to a halt in a tiny Flybe plane from Glasgow, I could barely see anything for the fog outside, but the smiles of welcome in the minuscule airport at Glenegedale were anything but foggy."
Later in that same post Carol decides to write posts about each distillery she visits and about her trip to Laphroaig she writes: "I chatted a bit with John on a late Friday afternoon in mid September, a time when one could imagine the entire population of Islay downing tools to have a wee dram of - something! Not so at Laphroaig. Our chat was sandwiched between a meeting that ran late and a conference call that was still to happen. There was a sense of quiet urgency about the man which made me not want to take up too much of his time. Still, ask John a question about the source of Laphroaig's legendary smoky character, or his favourite expression, (the 10 year old) and he's happy to expand." Continue reading...
Carol has also been to Bunnahabhain and enjoyed the distillery as well as the marvellous views: "The last few kilometres of the road to Bunnahabhain distillery is not for the faint-hearted! Although very charming, and offering up gorgeous scenery, we have here a single track road with few passing places, scary blind corners, and neck-stretching brows of hills. On the other hand, the scenery on that road and surrounding Bunnahabhain, the most north - easterly Islay distillery, is simply stunning, even on a grey, drizzly day. "
What's a visit to the island without Kilchoman distillery, the youngest of the eight distilleries on Islay. Carol writes about her visit: "John MacLellan has been the distillery manager at Kilchoman since 2010, following 21 years at Bunnahabhain. John was at Whisky Live in Paris when I visited and Anthony Wills, the Managing Director, was also away, so Tony Rozga, who used to be the stillman at Bunnahabhain, showed me around. There's a lot going on at Kilchoman with much enthusiasm and pride, so I look forward to returning to this wee distillery on a future trip and tasting more of everything, especially the very local 100% Islay whisky."
Carol has written quite a lot for someone who has been on Islay for a week and she took a lot of pictures too. If you visit her blog you will find the links to all the individual articles about each of the eight distilleries and matching pictures. Enjoy!