The combines are rolling. We salute you.


The combines have started to roll here on Islay – with everyone keeping their fingers crossed for a good harvest.  Everything still depends on the weather.  We have had a great year so far.  James Brown of Octomore has described it as ‘unusually normal, by which he means that there has not been any of the extreme events that generally characterise trying to farm, and particularly grow malting barley out here on the outer edge.  The spring was quite benign and gentle, there have been none of the usual massive storms and the sunshine has been constant and warming, interspersed with regular showers of rain to keep things moving forward.  June and July were really excellent – August has not been quite so clever, but nothing too drastic, and suddenly we find ourselves facing golden fields that are heavy with promise.

We have twelve farms growing mallting barley for us on Islay in 2014 – heroes all.  This is a high risk business.  Rockside, Coull, Sunderland, Octomore, Island, Eorrabus, Mulindry, Dunlosssit, Cruach, Islay Estate at Gartbreck and Craigens have all thrown their hats into the ring.  We really appreciate it.  Some of the guys have been  with us from the very beginning of this magnificent experiment in terroir, others are coming aboard for the first time.  We can only hope that their willingness to challenge convention on an island that has a proud tradition of livestock farming going back centuries will see them reap real benefits through their diversification into arable.

None of these guys have fancy modern combines, they are having to mend and make do and somehow keep some very elderly machinery going.  It is never easy – we salute you…

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