Islay News Roundup second-half March 2008

Following is a short overview of Islay news published in the Ileach Newspaper and from various other sources.

Ardbeg Corryvreckan: Named after the whirlpool north of the Isle of Jura and based on the legend of a Scandinavian Prince, named Breackan, Ardbeg released a special Committee bottling. There are only 5,000 bottles available and according to the Ardbeg mailing the colour is Deepest Amber and the aroma is Heady, Intense and Powerful. The legend is about a prince named Breackan who fell in love with a princess of the isles. Her father consented to the marriage on the condition that Breackan showed his courage by anchoring his boat in the whirlpool for three days and three nights. How this story ends can be read on the Isle of Jura History Page or you can visit the Ardbeg Website

New SWA Regulations: Mark Reynier the outspoken MD of maverick independent distiller Bruichladdich, has clashed with the mighty Scotch Whisky Association this week over proposed new regulations which would allow a new category of whisky to be called 'Blended Malt'.

Road Equivalent Tariff: Argyll and Bute Council has in principle welcomed the Transport Minister's announcement on Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) fares.As part of a pilot scheme, Stewart Stevenson has announced that current ferry fares to the western isles (plus Coil and Tiree) are to be replaced with an RET scheme which, in the main, will bring cheaper travel for islanders, tourists and businesses. Leader of Argyll and Bute Council, Councillor Dick Walsh, said: 'I am delighted that communities and people who visit our islands may benefit from RET and reduced ferry fares. Specifically, our communities on Coll and Tiree. 'We are, however, aware that there are concerns from those island and peninsula communities not included within the pilot. Our Transportation and Infrastructure Spokesperson, Councillor Duncan Macintyre, has already been in touch with Graham Laidlaw, Head of Ferry Services at the Scottish Government, requesting a presentation to be made to Argyll and Bute Council and others from the pilot scheme consultants, Halcrow. This request has had verbal approval and a date to be arranged. 'I understand that the future RET fares structure will be £5 for a car plus 60p for each steaming route mile. This represents roughly half the current fares and should make a huge difference to the lives of our island communities.' RET involves setting ferry fares on the basis of the cost of travelling an equivalent distance by road. High ferry fares have been seen by many as a barrier to economic growth on the islands. Continue Reading.....Pillaged Malt: Harold Hastie filling one of the bottles of Pillaged Malt, at Bruichladdich Distillery, collected during the summer pillage of 2007. This, tipped as the final pillage round Islay and Jura’s shores collected whisky from each of the islands’ distilleries and created a 'blended' Islay and Jura Malt. The resulting bottles will be auctioned to raise funds for local Islay and Jura charities - a unique record of a unique island adventure.

Cantilena Festival: Musicians from Cantilena are seen performing at the last concert of the Easter Festival in St John’s church Port Ellen. The lovely old kirk provided the perfect setting for elegant works by Boccherini and the players are looking forward to returning to Islay for the Summer Festival at the beginning of July when the Round Church will also be available once again after repairs caused by the lightning strike have been completed.

Islay High School: Islay High School Archaeology club have been nominated for a Young Scot Award in recognition for their 'enthusiastic and committed' efforts in highlighting and recording Scotland's rural past. The young team was nominated for the award by members of the Scotland's Rural Past (SRP) training team, with whom they had worked closely since October 2007. Since the club was established in August 2007, the club have worked in partnership with the adult Islay Archaeology Club in producing detailed archaeological field surveys and followed this up with the recording of oral history and archival research with help from The Islay and Jura Family History Society.

Goodbye to Mary McKechnie: Mary McKechnie has made an enormous contribution to the success of the visitor centre at the Ardbeg distillery and ten years ago nobody knew that we would now be catering for so many visitors and locals in the Old Kiln restaurant. Bear in mind Mary's remit in 1998 was to prepare scones, soup and sandwiches for the 24 covers that were in the café at the time! Her delicious, home cooked, no cutting corners food now caters for over 150 people on a summers day and Mary and her team are a credit to the distillery. Mary was presented with travel vouchers and a bouquet of flowers from Hamish Torrie, Ardbeg’s marketing manager, who pronounced Mary 'a wonderful asset to the visitor centre and told her he would miss all her lovely grub!'

The Islay & Jura Youth Wind Band: The Islay & Jura Youth Wind Band held a fund raising concert on 20th March to aid their trip to the 2008 Mid-Argyll Music Festival which is held in Lochgilphead at the 29th of March.

Blogs & other snippets: Armin published his 30th blogging roundup last week. The folks at Bruichladdich have a few posts about the new and much disliked SWA regulations. The Ravenous Rambler visited Islay and wrote a nice report. The search for the identity of the man that washed up on Islay's shore in 2006 is continuing and a new appeal is launched by the police.

Tag: news ardbeg

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