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Issue 33 - Generosity of spirit

Whisky Magazine Issue 33
September 2003


This article is 14 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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Generosity of spirit

Brian Palmer, editor of Islay's local paper and lead drummer in the pipe band, gives a unique, teetotaller's view of the island's whisky festival

Every year, Italy, France and Spain hold three-week national cycling tours, despite the amount of traffic disruption and financial outlay that such tours involve. And the reason that they are so keen to continue to do so, apparently, is that the television coverage allows them to show off almost every corner of their respective countries to a large television audience, since much of the coverage is by helicopter.

Islay doesn't have a national cycle race (some of us can but dream), but we have the now annual Festival of Malt and Music, which does much the same job for the island. No helicopters as yet, but an excellent group of people who manage the seven distilleries on Islay and the one on neighbouring isle, Jura. And while the event is subtitled, ‘The Islay Whisky Festival', the real beneficiaries of the week are the two islands.

I still haven't worked out whether these gentlemen calculated all this in advance, and it is some really subtle marketing ploy, or whether they are subconsciously concentrating on ‘home' en route to ‘the product'.

The whole week is a wonderful showcase for local talent, whether music, dance or song – Islay Pipe Band made four appearances during the week, which is undoubtedly the busiest time of our year. Nicol McKinnon wore himself out taking eager visitors and locals out into the bays associated with each distillery to see them from the water in the Seafari-Islay rigid inflatable. And then there's the accommodation.

Agreed, it is a pro...

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