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Islay Book review

My first book about Islay was this Islay Pevensey Island Guide by Norman Newton. It's a small book with wonderful photography, useful information and a Places to Visit Guide. This book has an extensive part about Islay History, some good walks are mentioned and info about Islay's Distilleries can be found here. But most of all the photography is excellent. From the same series are also books available about Arran, Skye and the other islands.

Quote from Amazon.co.uk
The groups of islands off the coast of Scotland hold a strong fascination for the thousands of people who embark on the sea crossing each year. The islands are unique: remote, romantic and often mysterious, they exert a magnetic attraction which draws visitors back again and again. The Hebridean island of Islay lies off the coast of Argyll, linked to the mainland of Scotland by a year-round vehicle ferry. Its varied landscape makes it attractive for hill-walkers, and its long and sometimes bloody history has left plenty of traces in the landscape for amateur archaeologists to explore. Its beaches are pounded by the full power of the Atlantic surf, which has sculpted spectacular cliffs and formed empty miles of sandy strands, where Vikings once beached their longships. The ancestral seat of the medieval Lords of the Isles. Islay is brim full of history, but with a full range of modern services and accommodation for visitors. Famous the world over for its whisky, the spirit of 'the Queen of the Hebrides' lures people back again and again to enjoy its scenery and tranquility.

Click here to order this book at Amazon.co.uk

Islay from the Paps of Jura

An extraordinary picture from Islay this time. Arra Fletcher made this picture some years ago from the top of the Paps of Jura standing in the snow. He managed to capture the whole island in one shot. Very well visible are the Sound of Islay, Loch Ardnahoe, Loch Ballygrant and of course Loch Indaal.

Click here for the full image (650Kb)

Hunt for Fake Mayday Signal

In an earlier post was written that the Islay Life Boat has been very busy lately. Last night the Islay Life Boat was called out again in a huge search and rescue operation after receiving a distress call. Plane's and lifeboats were called out and after a search of several hours they found out that the mayday signal was coming from a radio beakon dumped in a skip. That was a lost Saturyday night for a lot of volunteers.

And here comes the unbelievable part:
Quote: After rescuers failed to find any boat in distress, a red-faced sailor from Devon owned up that he had asked his wife to dispose of an old emergency position indicating radio beacon in a bin, but she had forgotten to remove the battery. The couple, for obvious reasons, did not want to be identified.

The full story is available here

Bruichladdich fastest growing Distillery

Bruichladdich Distillery is now the fastest growing single malt distillery brand in the world recently released figures from the Scotch Malt Whisky Industry Review 2006 confirm. The Annual review, published by stockbrokers Charles Stanley put Bruichladdich as the 27th biggest selling single malt distillery brand worldwide and 16th in the UK. 85 distilleries are in production. Not bad for such a small, private company that started five years ago, especially one that does not sell to Duty Free, has minimalist marketing budget, and a sales team of just three. The team taking on the might of the drinks industry consists of director Andrew Gray, Lynne McEwan (daughter of whisky legend Jim McEwan) and Donald McClellan.

Sales Director Andrew Gray: 'We have been successful in developing sales through a combination of innovation, good distributors and exceptional whisky. �As we become yet more profitable and more stock comes on line, we could build Bruichladdich into a major drinks brand. Long term anything is possible - we certainly won�t be constrained by our vision.'

That vision will see Bruichladdich release eight new whiskies over the next two months as part of a strategy to offer variety and individuality. This policy has come in for criticism from industry players used to producing this number of new bottlings in two decades rather than two months.

Since we started in 2001, we decided we wanted to offer our whisky naturally, that is without the usual industry practices of colouring or chill-filtration. It gives more flavour. We wanted to go further and decided to bottle at the distillery on Islay (we're the only people to do so) using Islay spring water rather than Glasgow tap.

With these self-imposed restrictions the art of designing the bottlings takes on great importance. This job falls to three times Distiller of the Year Jim McEwan: 'Andrew gives me a rough idea of what sort of thing he is looking for, I then check out the casks and then I pretty much follow my nose - literally.'

An unusually wide variety of cask types - both American and European oak - and a diverse range of origins - Buffalo Trace to Chateau d'Yquem - allows huge diversity. 'I am always discovering new flavours in the warehouses - I just can't help it. Sharing that experience with a wider audience with a new or updated edition keeps me sane.

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