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Issue 13 - Going native on Deer Island

Whisky Magazine Issue 13
December 2000


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Going native on Deer Island

John Lamond visits one of the most charming and laid-back of the Scottish islands, Jura-home to one of the country's most remote distilleries.

Distillery management talk about their staff going island crazy when they have spent too long on Islay or Jura. I suppose the same is true of any island or remote distillery – there's a risk that prized employees may go native. Those used to city life might find the idea of being located a 130 mile drive and two ferry journeys away from head office for several years is too much like heaven to give up without a fight. Is this what the mandarins at head office are worried about?

On a recent visit to Jura, I took a photograph of the view out towards the bay from between the cooperage and the warehouses. As you can see (above right), there is a palm tree very conveniently situated between the distillery and the sea. I was aware, on that day in late spring, what beautiful weather we were having for the time of year – what I had not realised was just how blue the sea and sky were against the dazzling white of the warehouse walls. On having the photographs developed this one stood out as quite conceivably being a picture of a sherry bodega in Sanlucar de Barrameda, the home of Manzanilla, and not a picture of a remote island off the rather wet west coast of Scotland.

The Isle of Jura is a rather petite 29 miles long and 7 miles wide (approximately). The name ‘Jura' comes from the Norse word meaning ‘Deer Island' and, today, over 6,500 deer live on the island. These four-legged creatures vastly outnumber the two-legged variety – the human population numbering approximatel...

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