Local farms on Islay have diversified from dairy to beef and then to mixed farming, showing agility and resilience. But we are uniquely aware that working from a microcosm, on Scotland’s remote west coast, results in an added challenge to access mainland markets. The conditions of barley growing on Scotland’s west coast are far from ideal, but at least in our case, we offered a diversified market and brought it to our local community’s doorstep. Could this be replicated into other areas, other crops even, other than barley?
Small but fruitful experiments are underway behind the scenes.
In 2017, we announced that we had grown and distilled Islay rye in partnership with Andrew Jones. The benefits are mutual. Andrew includes an extra crop in his rotation; reducing wind erosion, improving soil structure, conserving moisture and reducing run-off. He sells it directly to us and has a guaranteed market. We distil a deeply flavourful spirit of unparalleled provenance.
This approach to an Islay ecosystem, with a symbiotic relationship between agriculture and distillation, must be the future of whisky in Scotland.
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