The western arm of the island known as the Rhinns is our home and it shapes everything we do, from logistics, to being part of a close-knit community. The people of Islay, the Ileachs (or more properly the Ilich), are proud, with a strong sense of identity. And yet they are also surprisingly modest. The tiny island community, or less than 3,500 people, live in a series of small villages, the names of which are known to lovers of great spirits in every country in the the world.
Summer nights are filled with the call of the corncrake and golden eagles can be seen soaring above the coastal cliffs and mountain crags all year round. Birdwatchers come to see the largest flocks of chough in the UK, and to hope for sightings of the many true rarities that arrive every year.
Otters are often remarkably obliging too, and the patient are almost certain to obtain good views during the course of a week’s stay. There are big local populations of harbour and grey seals, and they too are easy to spot – often hauling out close to the villages.