Colin Tocher, who now works at Bruichladdich in the Harvey Hall, started his career as a coppersmith at McMillans of Prestonpans near Edinburgh in Scotland where he served his time as an apprentice. Back in 1973, Colin installed spirit still #1 in our still room – which is enjoying its 40th anniversary this year.…
It has been an enjoyable and productive week working with Carney Turner and Mohamed El-Fatih of Crows Nest Films. We first came across Mr Turner a few years back when he put together a short documentary style video for us in magnificently moody monochrome - a production of which we remain inordinately proud and which is immortalised in Laddiespeak as 'The Carney Video'. You can take a look at it here.
We are delighted to have won no fewer than two of the coveted ‘Drammie’ awards this year, as ‘Best Whisky Distillery’ and ‘Most Exciting/ Innovative Whisky Producer/ Bottler. We think this is excellent news, not least because they are voted for by you good people who actually go out there and buy the stuff - as opposed to industry insiders.
There is nothing that could mean more to us. Thank you.
The Drammies website says: "The Drammie Awards were the brainchild of "For Whisky Lovers" contributing editor Kevin Erskine in his previous role as the unofficial voice of the whiskey consumer, via his industry-first The Scotch Blog. In much the same vein as the People's Choice Awards, the mission of the Drammie Awards is to put the power of “recognition” in the hands of the whiskey enthusiast."
We were delighted to host students from the 'Lycée Jules-Ferry', a public
secondary and higher education school located in the 9th arrondissement of
Paris today. Bruichladdich Master Distiller Jim McEwan enjoyed a lively
session with the young academics during which he was asked a wide range of
questions about how distilling impacts on life on Islay including: what are
the benefits that the distilleries bring to the island? What is their
impact on the local economy? What opportunities do the distilleries offer
young people who wish to stay and work here?
Television production company MacTV visited Bruichladdich this week to shoot some sequences for a programme about the David MacBrayne freight boats that served the Western Isles, including Islay, prior to the advent of the Ro-Ro ferries that we have become familiar with today. The programme is to be presented by Professor Donald Meek, who is acknowledged as perhaps the world’s leading authority on the history of Scotland’s iconic ferry company.
The show will also feature Peggy MacEachern, who was born and brought up in Bruichladdich and worked for a number of years as a clerk in the office at Bruichladdich Pier. The Gaelic language programme, which only has a working title at present, is expected to be aired in the Autumn on BBC Alba. The small freighters that called at the pier back then had names such as Loch Broom, Loch Ard, Loch Dunvegan and Loch Carron. They were an essential part of the social and economic life of the islands back then – and vital for the maintenance and supply of Islay’s whisky industry.
Many thanks to Dr. Peter Martin, Director at the Agronomy Institute, Orkney College (University of the Highlands & Islands) for sending us this photo of bere barley being planted for us at Watersfield Farm on 5th April.
Mark French of Rockside Farm is pictured sowing a variety of malting barley called ‘Concerto’ in the big ‘Minister's Field yesterday under a mackerel sky. Mark has chosen to sow early this year, taking advantage of the extended period of dry weather – but that sky tells of a change to come.
Brightening our day at the distillery today was Ralf Morgenstein, a regular visitor to Islay who came with his good friends from Folk Destille Jena in Germany. Although somewhat defying definition, Folk Destille could best be described as Folk Big Band with a Celtic flavour. As a big band they can number up to eighteen, but today just six of them were plenty to fill the Laddie Shop with their wondrous sounds.
Maybe we will be able to persuade them to come and play at Feis Ile in a couple of years time?
We were delighted to welcome Robin Harvey and his extended family to the distillery yesterday. Robin is the grandson of William Harvey, one of the three Harvey brothers who built Bruichladdich in 1881. William’s brother Robert was the engineer, brother John was the distiller and William was the financier. Robin was accompanied by his three daughters: Heather, Fiona and Val. Also present were Fiona’s husband Andrew and their daughters Alexandra and Isabella and son Louis. With Val were Martin and Nick Burns and Simon and Thomas Jenkin. Looking after them all and making sure everyone had plenty of tea to drink was our very own General manager Duncan McGillivray.
The family is pictured in front of one of our wash stills, which, with due deference to the parable of your Grandfather's axe, dates back to when William, Robert and John built the distillery. Slainte!
We enjoyed our best barley harvest ever here on Islay in 2012. The weather on the west coast was very good for the first part of the year, and reasonable for much of the summer. The only real difficulties we had were actually bringing the harvest in when the rains started in September. Despite this, ten Islay farms brought home a total of around 930 tonnes of quality grain. A tremendous achievement.Unfortunately, our colleagues on the Scottish mainland were not so lucky. They had to endure a very poor year of weather throughout 2012, a cold wet and miserable season which badly affected the productivity of many farming operations – including the crops of malting barley.