Whisky Magazine Issue 35
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Islay's meant to be all about tranquillity. But when Ian Buxton visited Bowmore it was anything but
Islay is supposed to be quiet. Very quiet. The island's image is of great peace and tranquillity; empty open spaces, washed by clear skies, a deep silence broken only by the cries of distant seabirds. Indeed, Bowmore's latest corporate DVD is an elegiac tribute to Islay's special tranquillity, vividly contrasted with the “thundering roads” that dominate our increasingly urbanised lives.
Islay, it reminds us, is a special place, its solitude having almost a spiritual quality, a soothing balm for our hurried existence. Islay is supposed to be quiet.
Well, it wasn't when I was there. Apart from my visit, Bowmore's manager Ian McPherson (known to one and all as Percy, though no-one seems to know why) had to deal with a group of industry panjandrums from the Keepers of the Quaich, led by former company owner Brian Morrison; a VIP visit by long-lost Ileach Dr Thomas Baillie, now of Philadelphia (of whom more later); the usual quota of visitors, most of whom seemed determined to get lost; a TV crew from RTE in Dublin; a maintenance gang of painters and the band of the Grenadier Guards.
Oh, and he was trying to fit in some distilling as well, if none of us minded. I may just have imagined the busied bandsmen, but you get the picture: Islay's whole population might as well have dropped in for tea (and probably did) such was the pleasant air of energy and bustle.
Perhaps he was hiding from the crowds, but Ian (a.k.a. Percy) found time to walk with me round Bowmore's whole opera...