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Issue 35 - Nothing like a spot of pillaging

Whisky Magazine Issue 35
November 2003


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Nothing like a spot of pillaging

As crazy ideas go, pillaging malts on Islay for charity is pretty crazy. Dave Broom tracked down some of the guilty parties and asked them exactly what they thought they were doing

He remembered the barrel roll. The laughs they'd had, the too-late night on Jura and the push up the hill at Port Askaig the next morning with thick ringing heads. The way the island came together, the distilleries working together, the roar of the staves on the road. Something similar was needed.

For charity. For cancer and the lifeboat. He looks at the bay every morning when he wakes, sees the waves from the stillhouse across at Lagavulin.

And Jim MacFarlane has the Kathleen, that Irish skiff. The idea forms and when Kevin Campbell has an idea it usually becomes reality.

Dave Barr (Bruichladdich): “We were sitting in the pub, dramming, when he comes up with this scheme about rowing round the island pillaging malt from each still. You can imagine what the reaction was like. All the bravado comes out: ‘Aye, nae bother” ‘I was in a pedalo in Spain once. Cannae be any worse than that.' Next thing, Kevin's got it organised.”

Kevin Campbell: “Experience? I had none at all. But there were plenty of guys who had knowledge of rowing, of the sea, who knew what you could expect.

“We met with them in January to see if it could be done. They said it could. You beauty! We were off.”

The Kathleen lay light in the water. Jim MacFarlane's father had fished in one like her and Jim wanted to have one the same. He had her specially made in Ireland.

They sit on her benches, feet on the pebbles for ballast, crane round to look at the dragon's head on the prow. She's like s...

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