It has been the driest September for 50 years. No rain has fallen since 15th August, quite unheard of in these weather beaten Hebridean isles. Personally we have enjoyed it a lot; the summer has been remarkable. But our spirit hasn't been so happy.
We have been delighted to be working with a team from the world-renowned American current affairs programme ''60 Minutes' from CBS News. Fronted by the legendary correspondent Bob Simon, the producers are interested in taking a broad look at Islay and her whisky industry against a background of the upcoming referendum on Scottish Independence. Much spectacular footage has been taken around the island including some of the other world famous Islay distilleries, Octomore Farm and locations ranching from Kilchoman beach to Craigens and Port Ellen.
The combines have started to roll here on Islay - with everyone keeping their fingers crossed for a good harvest. Everything still depends on the weather. We have had a great year so far. James Brown of Octomore has described it as 'unusually normal, by which he means that there has not been any of the extreme events that generally characterise trying to farm, and particularly grow malting barley out here on the outer edge. The spring was quite benign and gentle, there have been none of the usual massive storms and the sunshine has been constant and warming, interspersed with regular showers of rain to keep things moving forward. June and July were really excellent - August has not been quite so clever, but nothing too drastic, and suddenly we find ourselves facing golden fields that are heavy with promise.
We have, so far, had the perfect summer here on Islay. Brilliant blue skies punctuated by a day here and there of intense rainfall.
The barley crop growing for Bruichladdich across the island is as good as it has ever been in the ten years we have been working with Islay grown grain. It is also at its most beautiful right now. The delicate awns are still light and buoyant; they blow in staggered unison in the breezes, creating Mexican waves and ripples in the fields.
At Bruichladdich we have something of a passion for place; a sense of belonging.
Our whisky speaks of the land, this Hebridean island home, jutting into the jaws of the weather-beaten North Atlantic; and of the people, our people, that give it life.
It has always been our mission to reconnect whisky with its essential raw ingredients, something that has been lost in our mechanised age of mass production and efficiencies.
HERE WE GO AGAIN! Bruichladdich was once again the main sponsor of a small and exclusive annual beach rugby tournament held during the second weekend of June. This is one of rugby's most eagerly sought after invitation events of the year.
Beach Rugby Islay-style is hard fought, full contact, bare footed and physically demanding. Matches are played on Kilnaughton Bay's beach, conveniently located in front of the White Hart Hotel in the picturesque village of Port Ellen. A natural banking provides an excellent view for spectators - and this year's event was once again attended by a huge crowd who were able to soak up the traditional sunshine.
Bruichladdich Distillery was delighted to receive a visit from the The Applecross Boatpull Team this morning. The Applecross Boatpull Team are a group of fundraisers who have previously pushed their mock lifeboat, named A'chomraich, 650 miles throughout the Scottish Highlands and Islands raising in excess of £175k for Portree, Oban, Stornoway, Kyle, Lochinver and Wick Lifeboat Stations, as well as for CHAS and the Highland Hospice.
Bruichladdich has agreed to sponsor the Islay Natural History Trust for a period of two years starting immediately. The Trust was formed in 1984 and aims "to encourage the study, documentation and enjoyment of the natural history of Islay".
Since 1992 the Trust has occupied the "Wildlife Centre" which comprises much of the ground floor of an old whisky bond in Port Charlotte owned by the Scottish Youth Hostel Association. Originally the bond formed part of the Lochindaal Distillery which closed in 1929.
The Rhinns of Islay is the western peninsula that comprises around a third of the total land area of the island. The Gaelic version is ‘Rinns’, ‘Rhinns’ being an English spelling invented by romantic Victorian cartographers who thought that the extra letter looked more authentic.
It is fascinating to see how dramatically the farming regimes have changed over the years and how this reflects the development of whisky distilling. Islay saw a huge rise in population in the 18th century driven by the availability of the potato and basic health care. The census of 1831 put the population at over 15,000, but changes in the political landscape and then the potato famines saw a steady decline, which continues to this day. Anyone walking the moors is likely to come across the rather sad remains of runrig surrounding villages that were abandoned during the Highland Clearances.