Heather Leslie – Retail Administrator since 2016


On Islay

Heather (24) has been holidaying on Islay since she was a child. With her mother and father both working in Glasgow, her and her sister were sent to Portnahaven during school holidays to stay with their grandmother. When her parents separated at the age of eight, her mother Colina moved them back to her family home.

“There are quite a few of us that live down at Nerabus. My boyfriend Kevin, my sister Kelsey, brother Dolan and my parents, all the animals. An array of different animals in fact – rare breed hens, Indian runner ducks, a sheep, a pig, lots of dogs and cats.

“We’re currently staying in a converted caravan but you probably wouldn’t notice from the inside. We’ve fitted a wood burning stove and have made it quite homely. I would like to live somewhere bigger eventually but the housing market here makes it difficult to get on the ladder. I think on King Street in Portnahaven now, there are 30 houses and only three of them are lived in year-round. People come here for a week in the summer and a week at Christmas but they don’t realise that it makes it harder for locals to buy houses. So we’re saving up until we can build up enough of a base to afford something”.

On the topic of Portnahaven, Heather describes quite a similar vibe to that of Julie, who she’s known since her early years. Whilst Julie describes angelically looking in rock pools, Heather remembers a more mischievous side.
“We had to make our own fun, but it was great when we were young. No crime, free range, it gets more difficult in your teenage years when everyone knows your business – ‘They know the colour of socks you’ve got on in Port Ellen before you even know yourself’ – but I remember telling my Nana that we’d be going out fishboxing. She thought that meant collecting stuff in fishboxes but we were actually sitting in it and dragging each other along behind from the quadbike.”

Kevin & Heather

On her switch to Bruichladdich

“I worked at competitor’s distilleries before coming to Bruichladdich. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy working there, I just found myself here on most of my days off. All my friends worked here, it felt like good fun and I thought I want to get in. The distillery I worked at before had polar opposite views, I struggled to speak about the brands when I didn’t really believe in it, so part of the reason I came here was because I heard about the ethos and thought it would be easier to speak to visitors.

On her future

Heather comments on how living with her bi-lingual partner has helped her to learn the second language she’s always wanted to. When asked what else has changed since he moved in, she’s self-conscious about not being cheesy.

Cringing: “That’s a really hard question… I think we share the same goals. We’ve brought out the best in each other and what we want to achieve in life. Like getting a polytunnel, Kevin’s pushed me out my comfort zone. Like I know that having four cars and a camper van isn’t practical but he makes me see differently. I think on Islay you can be quite naïve to things, you’re in a bubble but he’s travelled more, he’s made me more cultured.”

When asked where she sees herself in the future…

“I hate that question. I’m quite happy living in today. I mean, I do want to live on Islay but I’d live somewhere else too. I’ll come back here though. I want to be one of those old folk collecting a pension at the Post Office.

“I’ve appreciated living here too. It teaches you to be practical. I don’t just walk out and get a dress altered, I teach myself to sew. And it’s the same with what you’ve got around you, instead of wasting the rhubarb that’s growing, we make cordial. If there are gooseberries on the bushes or sloes, we make jam or gin.”

With hobbies like sewing, growing veg and restoring VW campers, you might jump to a conclusion that Heather sounds like a character out of ‘The Good Life’. But make no mistake, she’s no Barbara Good.

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