THE ILEACH :: THE INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER FOR ISLAY + JURA

Excerpts from issue 48/13 10 April 2021

bruichladdich - port charlotte path

The Port Bàn section of the Bruichladdich - Port Charlotte path, now nearing completion, and already favoured by walkers between the two villages. With the prospect of another multi-use path between Bowmore and Bridgend, Islay Community Access Group chair, Pat McGrann provides an update on the recent project consultations in this issue.

Photo: Stuart Doyle/Islay Drone Photography

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In this week's issue:

Port Ellen Playing Fields Pavilion demolished, Progress with the new ferry, Bowmore-Bridgend Path progress, More money for the islands' roads, Council Leader, Robin Currie's open letter to Nicola Sturgeon, Ardbeg's new stillhouse, MSPs in disagreement over The Rest, Council to charge for electric charging, Black Bowmore to benefit Islay Development Initiative, Perry Green climbs Cnoc Donn, Bridgend bowling commences for the season, Jura Bake-off results, Norman Willmore album review.

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New stillhouse at Ardbeg
ardbeg stillhouse

Ardbeg Distillery recently unveiled their new stillhouse, significantly increasing the distillery's capacity and aiming to meet a growing demand for Ardbeg whisky.
Although the building and the stills are brand new, retaining the character of the whisky was at the heart of this lengthy project. So the new stills were designed to the exact specification as the old ones, right down to the last millimetre. Altering the character of the whisky was not a risk they were prepared to take.
Situated right on Ardbeg's shoreline, the new building is home to two wash stills and two spirit stills, as well as a picture window, where Ardbeg fans will soon be able to drink in the views towards Kintyre, along with a dram.
It's apparently customary to 'sweeten' a still with a handful of botanicals relevant to the spirit, a ritual that is seen as a good luck charm among distillers. At Ardbeg, to reinforce the smoky flavours, the tradition was honoured with heather, peat and seaweed. New stills don't come around too often, so reviving the age-old tradition is a once-in-a-generation moment.
In an informal opening ceremony, manager, Colin Gordon, had the honour of lowering the peat into the still, then lifting it out before the liquid ran through. He said, "It's not often a distillery manager gets to take part in something as special as this. I feel privileged. We've really retained the soul of Ardbeg with this new stillhouse."

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ISLAY & THE COVID-19 VIRUS: IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Last updated Monday 12 April 2021

Prepared for the benefit of Islay residents, this downloadable PDF file offers general information along with details of the Islay Volunteer Network and the state of play with regard to local businesses and services. Please check this page regularly.

DOWNLOAD HERE

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Black Bowmore auction to benefit IDI
black bowmore cabinet

On April 18, this year, in association with Sotheby's Hong Kong, Bowmore Islay Single Malt Whisky will offer a rare opportunity to acquire a unique collector's item; the Bowmore Archive Cabinet. Containing all five releases of the iconic Black Bowmore spanning 1993 to 2016, the bespoke art piece is expected to reach in the region of £400,000.
Proceeds raised from the auction will go directly to the Islay Development Initiative (IDI) to ensure a lasting legacy on Islay.
Designed by designer and master craftsman John Galvin, the cabinet captures the true heart and soul of Islay and Bowmore distillery. With an impressive career in innovative design, Galvin's award-winning visionary style has resulted in a piece that merges both traditional cabinetmaking with creative techniques. Taking inspiration from his time on Islay and made by hand over two years, the cabinet uses materials that can be found throughout the distillery, creating a true legacy piece.
A fundamental factor in its creation was ensuring the cabinet, would 'give back' to Islay by supporting young people living in the town of Bowmore. The 'Bowmore Legacy project' will see the proceeds used to support the employability, training and housing needs of Bowmore's young people, enabling the possibility of affordable and supported housing along with employment skills for young people experiencing barriers to employment.
Ultimately, the goal is to futureproof the island's distilling industry for tomorrow by investing in the younger generation of today.
Robert Smith, Chairman of Islay Development Initiative said, "We are excited, honoured and extremely proud to have been chosen to deliver the Bowmore Legacy project. IDI will ensure this legacy will have the sustainability of Islay, her young people and her community at its heart to deliver long term benefit."
Distillery manager, David Turner, commented, "The journey of this exceptional whisky and the evolution of the distillery is inextricably linked with the past, today and long into the future and this remarkable cabinet truly brings this heritage to life in a unique way.
"What makes it even more special is the launch of the project, which will support and protect future generations and can hopefully be realised with the proceeds raised through this auction."

The Sotheby's Wine & Spirit Spring Sale Series in Hong Kong will take place on 16-18 April.

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This is Islay
this is islay podcast

A new monthly podcast featuring individuals, personalities and features of Islay and Jura. Listen now at https://anchor.fm/thisisislay

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Music review - 'Alive and Well at the Muckle Roe Hall' - Norman Willmore Quartet
alive and well at the muckle roe hall - norman willmore quartet

brian palmer writes:
In my college years, I recall travelling through thick snow, five of us cramped in a transit van, on our way to play a gig at Kingussie, north of Aberdeen. We stayed overnight in a derelict house, and the organisers could barely scrape together enough cash to pay the fee. That, however, is a mere nothing by comparison of spending 14 hours on a ferry from Aberdeen to Shetland, rehearsing for a week in a rented cottage, before playing to an audience of 90 in the Muckle Roe Hall. Then being stuck on Shetland for a further four days due to bad weather.
But that's the backdrop to this live recording by Shetland saxophonist, Norman Willmore and accompanying musicians. Judging by the audience reception, it was well worth the effort.
Willmore played alongside Fergus McCreadie and Colin Steele in the video performance that effectively replaced last yearŐs Islay Jazz Festival.
He studied piano and saxophone at school in Shetland, but learned about jazz at the Scottish National Youth Jazz Orchestra summer course on the mainland. I asked him if there was a sizeable audience for jazz on Shetland?
"I wouldn't say there is a sizeable audience for jazz in particular, but there are a few people who really love it. But there are lots of people who are extremely enthusiastic and supportive of all kinds of music, and especially musicians from Shetland. Pretty much every gig in Shetland is well attended and has a great vibe and engaging audience."
Willmore's music is arguably less 'approachable' than that of his peers, leaning more towards the 'free' end of the spectrum, but I cannot deny that I absolutely loved this album. You can tell that the others in the band (bass, drums and trumpet) are having the time of their lives, with a similar joie de vivre as expounded by Matt Wilson's Quartet and even John Stevens' 'Away'.
Norman said, "There are definitely large sections of the music that are not written down at all. I try to make the charts have lots of space, and tend to play with people who know me well and understand that if they can come up with something better, or want to try something out they definitely should."
Several of the tracks on the album have distinctly Norse titles, such as 'Hjalteren' and 'Rammeslatt', contrasted with more down to earth descriptions as 'A Local Shop for Local People', a very apt title in current times.
The whole joyous occasion ends with the band merging 'Jack O' Diamonds' with Garry Harrison's traditional tune, 'Red Prairie Dawn', bookended by more rapturous applause from the audience.
The recording and production are superb, and, audience aside, you'd never know it was recorded in a Shetland hall. So, were they having fun? For sure. We all get on really well, and like trying to surprise each other on stage. And because we all live in very different places, getting the chance to go up to Shetland for a week of recording was like a holiday, so everyone's spirits were high anyway. I'm sure it is the same when visitors go to Islay, if they have never been to a small island before. It's a different way of life, and usually people from the city absolutely love it."
'Alive and Well at the Muckle Roe Hall' by the Norman Willmore Quartet is available on Bandcamp.

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Still here

The Ileach, now in its 48th year, has weathered more than just a few economic downturns in its time, local, national and global. However, the current situation is unprecedented in our lifetimes.
We have every intention of continue to produce the newspaper for as long as is practical and possible. And just as in previous times of difficulty, we would appreciate your support in making this happen.
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Stay safe.

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NEXT ISSUE ON SALE, Saturday 27 April 2021

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