Tag Archives: Isle of Islay

Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Jun. 03.

FEIS ILE 2015

Feis Ile agus Dhiura 2015 ~the busiest we have seen yet!  We had extra open days & nights and millions of events ~ 

Friday ~ SMWS Open Day at Islay House ~ with two new Festival bottles……. one from SMWS and one from Islay House 

SMWS Feis Ile 2015

 And the first time meeting a great gang of Whisky Girls from all over the world!

Festival 2015 5

 Next up, Saturday ~ Lagavulin Day

With the Festival bottle put up on German ebay as soon as money changed hands in Islay ~ and the bottle sold out by Tuesday……..  German ebay ~ the life of high finance on Islay….

Festival 2015 12Festival 2015 7lagavulin-1991-2015-feis-ile-2015

Well, Sunday is just mental ~ It’s Bruichladdich Day!

‘The Boss’ hosts his last Master Class for 500 people (but, let’s hope we see him guest hosting tastings in the future…) ~ and some of the Whisky Girls Gang get our photo taken with him

Bruichladdich McEwanMonday is Caol Ila Day ~ weather is not that great, some people take great photos though, and plenty of great whisky is drunk…..

Festival 2015 0Tuesday is Laphroaig Day ~ weather doubtful ~ 200 Anniversary Birthday cake? splendid ~ secret still in the woods? ~ even MORE splendid!

And at night we had a great #whiskyfabric gathering with more bottles and people than you could shake a stick at…

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Wednesday was Bowmore Day ~ and the rain poured from the Heavens ~ but, then so did the whisky! So, I don’t think people minded too much…. 

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and Lucci at Bowmore Hotel stocked up on his festival bottles for us all….

2015 Festival Bottles

Thursday is Kilchoman & Jura Day ~ Kilchoman celebrated their 10 Year Anniversary ~ their first spirit came through on 14 December 2005, but the Visitor Centre was open earlier in that year. Richard Paterson represented Jura well ~ as he always does; with his wit and his cigars and his lovely drams….

Festival 2015 6Festival 2015 18Festival 2015 2Friday is Bunnahabhain Day ~ lovely drams, great music, good craic…..

I arrive just as Islay Bart was leaving…. I told him it was nothing personal…..!

Festival 2015 19

Saturday was Ardbeg Day ~ 200 Anniversary ~ lots going on ~ lovely drams, Arbroath Smokies, people from the future, ice bars, tract Tours and drams from probably the most expensive bottle of the Feis ~ 1815 Ardbeg, a snip at £3,000 ~ Bill only bought two…. and Bino only bought three….!! 

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Slàinte!

Thank you to everyone I met who made the week so fantastic. Great new friends and great old friends. We will see you again next year ~ if not before.

And until we meet again ~ 

CelticUBlessingU3A2

Thank you to anyone whose photos are here.  I couldn’t find exactly who took which pic, so please accept my inclusive thanks if you recognise your own.

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Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Nov. 05.

Terroir ~ in Gaelic, is Anam an Fhearainn ~ Soul of the Land

Favours Galen & Ling

 

Barley grown in a field in Bridgend, Islay in 2013

TERROIR : of the land

Anyone who thinks there is no such thing as terroir misses understanding themselves and our world.  Barley, water, peat, yeast, copper, people ~all come from the land.

In making whisky ~ everything is provided by the earth, by nature herself ~ barley, earth to grow it in, people to sow it, tend and harvest it, water to soak it and let it germinate, yeast to react with the sweet barley water, wooden wash backs to ferment the wash in, copper stills to distil the wash and spirit in, peat to burn to toast the barley ~ all from Mother Nature. 

Stone built warehouses to keep the drams in, wooden casks for maturing whisky made from oak trees from all over the world, glass made with sand from ground down stones and shells for the bottles, and paper made from trees for labels and packaging. The people required at every step of the way, their skills, their attitudes, their passions and compassions ~ all from Mother Nature.

The weather conditions and geology which influence flora and fauna, which in their balanced relationship with each other made a perfect location for people to farm there ~ eg  Kilchoman, Lagavulin, Laphroaig.

Because they farmed there they grew barley. When they harvested they had grain for making flour, animal feed, to plant again the following year, and to make whisky.  People chose land that was fit for purpose. Their lives grew out of what was there. They were shaped by that land, and in turn produced that which was shaped by the land and the people of that land engaging in an interactive, reciprocal relationship.  Their society was formed by their habits in that land. Their interaction with that specific landscape and animals therein shaped how their language became, what food they ate, what they drank. 

So, concisely;  the geography, geology, flora and fauna created what would happen there; what settlements, what habits of human behaviour, what language, what skill sets, what creativity.

Next, the distilleries became bigger than the farms. There were piers where puffers brought coal for the fires to heat the stills, bringing casks to store whisky (in those days people made whisky from the outset) taking excess whisky away, bringing in extra barley; the moving and shaking of that place.

Each area created a different whisky as each area had different sets of characteristics ~ the characteristics were in the people, too; the habits they had in distilling, their traditions and customs of living, the specific skills they had, the shape of their buildings, where they were located in the landscape. The weather they received influenced what clothes they made, what food they ate, what they drank, when their streams went dry, where was best to store grain, the particular time things were done. All these particulars are shaped by the landscape in which they take place. And all these particulars allow the spirit of a landscape to produce something unique. The energies specific to a landscape produce things unique to that area.  This is what is meant by terroir.  In Gaelic, we call it

Anam an Fhearainn ~ Soul of the Land.

 We believe Anam an Fhearainn matters  

~ not just in whisky: it matters in EVERYTHING.

Pronounciation : Anam an yerr-ane   ~  Anam (as in Adam)  ane (as in plane)

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Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Aug. 21.

Still Games from Bruichladdich

When Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) saw the new Valinch from Bruichladdich, we knew we had to get a bottle……

Still Games

As usual the Bruichladdich Team are on good witty form with this offering ~

Still Game is a Scottish Television show which is extremely funny ~ http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/tv/chewinthefat/jack_and_victor/still_game/

http://www.comedy.co.uk/guide/tv/still_game/episodes/

Jack and Victor, the main characters, are  two Glaswegian pensioners going about their lives and getting into scrapes.

Calling the Valinch Cask  ‘Still Games’ is witty on so many levels ~ McEwan and McGillivray are still game, Still Games are  what is needed to make a whisky…….

Seeing Jim McEwan and Duncan McGillivray in the style of  Jack and Victor gives the locals such a good laugh, because they are both great comedy duos ~

It is heart warming that these two Islay men ~ icons of the whisky world, have the humour and the self confidence to create this joke involving themselves and icons of the comedy world ~ (some may say it is difficult to know which icons are which…..)

On Friday August 16, Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) took ourselves off  to Bruichladdich to fill a bottle of the Still Games golden nectar.

video of cask filling  ~     http://youtu.be/vvbmiJU53Oc

This dram is 10 years matured in a Port Cask and comes in at 62.2% alcohol by volume ~ so plenty dram for your buck!

The Valinch series from Bruichladdich are individual casks from which members of the public can come into the distillery  and hand fill a 500ml bottle.  My bottle is number 131 out of 450 bottles  from the Still Games cask.

This individual bottling is available until the cask is drained,  then a  different one is brought in and set up for hand filling.  These bottlings are exclusive to the distillery and are not available for general release.

This means you must come to Bruichladdich and fill them yourselves!

Amy worked as a tour guide over the summer before heading off to Jordanhill College to do teacher training ~ she got her own Still Game bottle ~ even more exclusive than mine…..

Her bottle has a picture of herself and apprentice blender, Adam Hannett on it ~ and was signed by everyone in the distillery ~

Amy's Still Games BottleAmy's Bottle

 This is a very strong, dryish dram. I bought it on spec because I loved the wit of the name ~ I haven’t even tasted it…..

So, tasting notes are welome!

Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) had a great time, thanks to Raymondo for taking our video and for looking after us so well, and thanks to all at Bruichladdich for your wit ~ greatly appreciated in these days of such troubles in the world.

We look forward to the next Valinch cask, and hope the name and label makes us laugh as much as this one has ~ it is true what they say:

~ wit sells…….!

http://youtu.be/RGY0GNhT3ys

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Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Jul. 20.

BRUICHLADDICH IS BREAKING HEARTS

Don’t be broken hearted about Bruichladdich.

 

What an amazing job Bruichladdich have done in winning hearts and minds. Their customers feel an intense loyalty and have a huge feeling of ownership. They are like football club fans.

Football clubs change all the time. New players, new managers, new strategies and yet the fans stay with them, stay loyal. The fans are staying loyal to something inside themselves, it is from within themselves the passion is generated. The club is merely the medium which allows this intrinsic feeling expression.

 Bruichladdich Distillery has managed to generate the same love and passion. Indeed, they are like a football team with their very, very tight corporate branding image ~ their team T shirts, and with McEwan as the charismatic club manager.

 

Distilleries are set up to make money. People may have a passion for their chosen way of making money, but if they weren’t going to make money they wouldn’t do it.

Schroder and MacTaggart both invested in Bruichladdich, these are estate owners in Islay. Schroder is Schroders private bank ~ have you ever heard of a banker with passion or sentiment? If Bruichladdich Distillery wasn’t seen as a good money making investment Schroder would never have invested. There is no sentiment or love of Islay  in a bankers investment portfolio!

 Jim McEwan is retiring next year ~ retiring from Bruichladdich that is. McEwan has plans of his own ~ he is on the next stage of his life journey with whisky. He is planning to travel the world with a Spirit Aid show. He will be like a rock star, he will be like ‘The Boss’ but singing the praises of Scotch Whisky.

Mark Reynier’s family are growing up, his children are moving off the island to be educated, his personal life is changing.

These men involved with Bruichladdich are business men. They saw a great opportunity, they showed the world what they could do. They were unusual and quirky ~ yes, because they had to be, they worked with what they could afford. They were innovative ~ yes…. How do we generate an income while we wait for our whisky to mature? Lets make lots of different expressions, let’s do this and do that, so we have a product to sell. (I’ll not tell the joke here in this serious article, about Iain Allan’s dog, and the gate of the distillery, then the creation of a new expression!)

They had to do something to generate an income for themselves. And in doing so they opened up the world of whisky. Never a truer example of ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ than Bruichladdich. No one can wait 10 years for a return on their new project ~ unless one is a nuclear power station perhaps.

 Bruichladdich’s best thing (apart from their drams ~ and McEwan, of course) is their brand image. How clever to make something as tightly branded as say, Coca Cola or Nike, appear so rural and authentic. I’m not saying it is not authentic, but to create such a defined ACCESSIBLE homespun corporate image is very, very clever. Bruichladdich made people fall in love with them. They used the rules of corporate branding to create an image of exactly the opposite. It’s like Ardfin Gardens in Jura  ~ Peter Cool worked very hard to achieve the feeling of a wild, untamed garden. This is far harder to achieve than merely making a tidy, conventional garden.

As Martha Beck says, the future is small, individual, unusual, different things. We all have access to everything now. People are jaded. They want unique, special, crafted things. The business thinkers of the world know this. This is forward thinking, seeing future trends.

We can push into new markets such as Brazil and Africa and sell large amounts of gut rot to poor people, which, shamefully, numerous large spirit producers will. But the future of Scottish Malt Whisky is in small unique brands, and Remy Cointreau have seen this in Bruichladdich. Remy Cointreau do not have a champagne house on their portfolio and I think Bruichladdich can fulfill that unique, quality role for them.  Bruichladdich, or indeed Bruichladdich and a new Port Charlotte combined cannot make much difference to Remy Cointreau’s bottom line. There is not the physical space or transport infrastructure to generate huge amounts of spirit. And if that is what Remy want to do they would have bought a large Coffey stilled plant on the mainland. Islay Whisky is a distinct brand in itself, one has to pay just for access to that now.

Remy are looking to the future. It’s not the customer who has to worry about change of ownership, it’s the workers at the distillery ~ let’s hope Remy will at least pay lip service to the family orientated way this working environment has been run for the last 10 years or so.

Bruichladdich has been an adventure for Mark Reynier, Jim McEwan et al, albeit a heartfelt one, but at the end of the day these guys don’t stand still. They had a business idea, they took it to THEIR chosen level of fruition, and like a football club, or a river, or the concept of royalty, Bruichladdich will flow on, ever changing, ever the same.

If they were romantic, sentimental idealists they would have never managed to turn £6 million into £48 million in 10 years ~ The people at Bruichladdich Distillery truly are alchemists!

 Bruichladdich Is Dead. Long Live Bruichladdich

 

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SLIDERIMAGE 2
May. 19.

WHISKY FOR GIRLS SONG

Whisky for Girls have had a song written specially for us.

The very talented singer songwriter Pauline Bradley https://www.facebook.com/Pozzyb 

 

has written a song for us called Whisky for the Girls

It is sung to the tune of Whiskey in the Jar ~ and it is great!

It tells the story of a girl meeting Captain Flannel and he takes her to a party,  but he is a bit salacious,  and  there is no whisky, so she leaves.

She travels further and meets a guy who takes her to an ale house but still no use as there is no whisky, so she leaves.

She then sees a woman standing like an angel with a glass of whisky, or is she a rebel?

So, she follows her and goes to a brilliant party where they are laughing and dancing and drinking whisky.

And they sing ~ It’s Whisky for the Girls!

Pauline came to Islay for a couple of days this week, had a tour round the distilleries and sampled a few choice drams.

She played music where ever she went. We had a wonderful time.

Whisky for Girls and Pauline intend to record the song ~  perhaps with a couple of skirls of the pipes thrown in for good measure.

The song will be available on cd and as an internet down load.

 We will keep you posted as to when it will be available to purchase.

Whisky for Girls thank Pauline Bradley very much for writing this wonderful song for us ~ and more importantly;  becoming our friend.

We will be singing this song for years to come ~ in Islay and all over the world!

 Myself and Pauline toasting the song @ Bruichladdich Distillery. Notice the piece of paper on the table near Pauline’s hand?  ~ That is the very special song sheet!

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