We were extremely happy to welcome Lutz-Werner Hanisch, Horst Klaassen, and Roland Loesch (with whom we have a shared history), on their 40th anniversary tour to Islay. They were at Bruichladdich in ’76, ’96, ’98 when it was closed, 2001 when we’d reopened, and in 2003, 2006, 2011, and 2014.
Horst recalls how different the ferries were on their first trip, prior to Roll-on-Roll-off services, and how they had been the only German car on the island’s quiet roads. It wasn’t until 1983 that these original whisky tourists encountered a visitor centre; at Glenfiddich, where the audio headsets with a language-changing switch made a big impression. He has fond memories of talking with Duncan McGillivray, General Manager, now retired, who was responsible for keeping our vintage machinery alive on zero investment in the early years.
Horst is a chemist ordinarily, so has some fascinating theories on what happens to whisky in the bottle, as, he says, ‘Glass is also living, so can react. And it lets in light.’ For reasons of oxygenation, once the whisky is out of the headspace and well down the bottle he believes, ‘even if it cost thousands’, it should be drunk. He describes how his English is a curious mixture of ‘Whisky English, Chemical English, and everyday English,’ which leaves holes for species of birds and customs officers – those ‘Magpies of the Thames’ that were apparently mentioned in an outstandingly memorable warehouse tasting with Jim McEwan on a previous visit.
Horst holds the opinion that whisky tastes better ‘on location’ in Islay, citing mood, company, and possibly the local water, as potentially influential factors.
Thanks very much for your visit gentlemen, and here’s to more shared history.