The 2012 ploughing has now largely been completed by the Islay farmers who are growing barley for Bruichladdich this year. There is still lots to do however and some of the fields are being prepared before being sown with seed.
Donald and Andrew Jones at Coull farm out on Islay's west coast have planted around 40 acres of barley for Bruichladdich - and it is already showing well. They took advantage of an early spell of good weather in April to get it in - which looks like being a good move.
James Brown of Octomore farm has seeded 30 acres of 'Concerto' barley for Bruichladdich, ploughing, harrowing, lifting stones, fertilising, drilling and finally using the heavy roller.
There is of course the perennial problem of stones in the fields. Two shots show Raymond Stewart working at Sunderland Farm on the Foreland Estate yesterday. He is pulling a disc harrow behind the Massey Ferguson, with a splined 'grape' on the front end. When he encounters a big stone he has to stop and dig it out with the grape, then shift it to the side of the field from where it can be collected at a later date. Raymond hopes to be drilling (sowing) later today if the weather holds.
It was Foreland that first grew barley for our Islay whisky back in 2004, when estate manager Raymond planted a number of acres on Kentraw Farm on the estate. The grain from this harvest was distilled in December of that year and produced a most remarkable single malt, the Islay Barley 2004, now very difficult to obtain.
This delicate dram was an early statement of intent on our behalf. It was "a study in directness and purity", and pointed to a future when the importance of provenance will be recognised once more.
Read more about whisky terroir and provenance.