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...the quantity of raw spirits consumed by the ‘highlanders’ was incredible!

On Easter Weekend Elise and I took the early ferry to Islay and thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Harbour Inn, Bowmore, set perfectly by the pier. Islay is the ‘whisky island’ and with a couple whisky tours scheduled for June it was important to refresh myself on all things ‘Islay’ and it was Elise’s first visit – shame on her!

Islay is famous the world over for its distinctive peaty, smoky flavoured whisky and has 8 active distilleries with a loyal and passionate band of followers. Whisky is a vibrant Scottish industry and ‘international brand leader’ exporting vast quantities around the world. But that’s not always been the case and back in the late 19th century the Irish were so concerned that their American export market could be tarnished by the poor quality Scottish whisky distilled in Coffey stills that they added an ‘e’. Yes, in order to protect their product, they added an ‘e’ to whisk(e)y to distinguish their superior brand and to this day only America and Ireland add the ‘e’. A lot has happened in the past 150 years and I think the Irish could benefit greatly from dropping the ‘e’ as good whisky is often referred to as ‘scotch’ and for good reason. Scottish whisky is more tightly regulated creating consistent quality but at the end of the day its personal choice and good whisky is good whisk(e)y.

This week Diageo Britain’s biggest drinks producer have just announced £150m investment developing their ‘flagship’ centre in Edinburgh and upgrading 12 visitor centres around the country. This is on top of £1b spent over the past 6 years in building its Scotch infrastructure to grow exports - the booming demand worldwide for Usque baugh the ‘water of life’ is colossal!

A report written in 1838 about the evils of the time observed that the quantity of raw spirits consumed by the ‘highlanders’ was incredible and were the effects not in a certain degree neutralised by continuous exercise in the open air, the consequences could not fail to prove instantly fatal – so beware the sedentary visitor! Mindful of this report Elise and I donned our outdoor gear and explored the island on foot during the day. But in the evening, the highlanders that we are could be found in the Bowmore Hotel enjoying a tipple or 2 under the guidance of Peter the proprietor and his son – aficionados of the highest order.

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