We are away on the continent at the moment, missing Islay dearly, so blogging is somewhat slower than you're perhaps used to. That however doesn't mean we can't post any updates. In fact there is quite a lot happening on and around Islay so here is some of the main island news:
Calmac Ferry and the 163mtr Eclipse yacht - picture courtesy of Moira McGillivray
When Calmac staff went on strike end of June over job security and pensions due to the current ferry tender, there were severe disruptions on the Islay Service which had drastic implications for locals and tourists. For a period of four days there were cancellations and on one day, Friday the 24th, there were no ferries at all. Despite more talks, the union (RMT) has announced even more industrial action. On 10 July a full day of strike action is planned which is likely to cause SEVERE disruption. More info here. If you are travelling that day make sure to get in touch with Calmac to reschedule your journey! In the meanwhile talks have taken place and according to the union they were "productive".
update 9th July: Ferry strikes are called off - read more
Famous folk visit Islay
I'm terrible with celebrities but when pictures appeared on Facebook with a giant yacht outside Port Ellen combined with a story about a Russian owner of a football club, the puzzle was complete for me. Even more so when several media reported that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, someone with a bit more money than most of us (together), likes to visit the Scottish islands, including Islay. The man took his helicopter to fly from his 163mtr yacht to the Isle of Arran where he walked his dog, go figure! Must be nice to move around the islands in such glamorous style, I'll stick to good old Calmac, if they don't strike. continue reading....
In the meanwhile Islay has received a royal visit from Prince Charles who made the journey on the day of the ferry strikes, by helicopter, to visit both Ardbeg and Laphroaig Distilleries. Both distilleries celebrate their 200th anniversary this year. The Prince also visited Finlaggan as one of his "courtesy" titles includes "Lord of the Isles."
There is a lot going on at Bruichladdich Distillery at the moment. First of all they are still increasing their staff and they are currently employing around 80 people on the island and that number is likely to increase. Last week the council agreed with the proposal for six new bonded warehouses to be built north of Coultorsay (see areal image) at Bruichladdich which also includes "A disgorging unit/filling store, welfare facilities, an access road, hard standings, septic tank and drainage infrastructure will also be constructed." This means that bottling will continue to take place on Islay and that's good news for the island. With the new warehouses, employment will further increase to around 100 people in the near future!
Carl Reavey said: “We are absolutely delighted. It means a great deal because it is absolutely essential for the continuation of Bruichladdich as we know it today to build new warehouses. We are absolutely determined to do everything we possibly can to retain as much as possible of the process here on Islay.” The development is part of a 15 year project, however work to construct the first of the warehouses will begin immediately. Carl also said: "it means output will be increased to 1.5 million litres per year. The initial business plan was for the distillery to produce 200,000 litres, which was quickly scaled up due to demand. At the time Remy took over we had driven that up to 700,000 litres. What Remy have enabled us to do is bring the distillery to its natural capacity. We are trying to distil about 1.5m litres."