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Issue 11 - Then along came the fire department

Whisky Magazine Issue 11
September 2000


This article is 17 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Then along came the fire department

Michael Jackson reports on a hot night in Bowmore

The news seemed to have spread the 10 miles from Port Ellen like a peat fire. That's why the village hall at Bowmore was having difficulty coping with the crowd. Only 25 people had booked in advance, but 120 more jostled around the entrance. In a village-hallish sort of way, it was like the podium at an airport gate, besieged by wait-listed travellers seeking passage on the day's last flight to Succotash.

Being the capital of the great whisky island of Islay, the village (well, town) of Bowmore would not admit excitement over the 'world premiere tour' of a new play visiting its hall. Nor did anyone know the fire department would be called, even though friction and sparks were expected.

The plot concerned the rival virtues of whisky and cheese. Hard Pressed, set on a mythical island with strong similarities to Islay, was one of some 100 plays, concerts, readings and the like touring the Highlands' Festival this summer. Apart from such excellent organisations as the Scottish Arts Council, the sponsors coincidentally included the Classic Malts range of whiskies. One of these beverages, Lagavulin, distilled on Islay, was the 'official' whisky of the festival. (I like that idea. All public events should have official whiskies).

There had, again coincidentally, been another intended sponsor, just for this play: the Islay Creamery. Sadly, the Creamery had gone out of business before the sponsorship could proceed. The play thus lost a sponsor but gained a poignant relevance,...

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