Amongst the many Islay videos available on youtube there is always that special one. Kaiwanoshima, from Japan but living in the UK, is reponsible for a video from the Lagavulin Distillery where he had a very interesting interview with Donald Renwick who was Lagavulin's Distillery Manager from 1998 to 2005. Donald was already involved in the whisky industry for 22 years before he started at Lagavulin, mainly in the packaging and malting business.
Donald tells about a local farmer, John Johnston, who established Lagavulin in 1816, although it is believed that there were seven illicit distilleries in that area long before that, actually since 1742. After John Johnston died Alexander Graham took over the distillery for a little over Â£1000. Donald also explains that Lagavulin was much more of a village than it is today with more houses and even a church. In the old days the church bell was located on top of a hill while the church itself was in the village. The minister had to climb the hill to ring the bell and then hurry back to the church in the village. He did so for 60 years untill another minister decided that this wasn't a good situation and the bell ended up in the garden of the church. When the church was converted into a private home in 1980 the bell returned to the hill.
When Alfred Barnard visited Lagavulin in the late 1800s he gave a good description of Lagavulin at the time and he also mentioned the church bell: "Close to the Distillery, as if to throw round the establishment its spiritual protection, stands a quaint-looking church; the bell which summons the worshippers instead of being in the tower, is fixed on a cross-tree of pyramidical shape on the top of a neighbouring hill, so that its sound may reach the remotest parts of the parish."
This Lagavulin Video doesn't allow embedding so instead you have to use this link to watch the video. Enjoy!