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Issue 74 - Drams on the ocean wave

Whisky Magazine Issue 74
September 2008

 

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Drams on the ocean wave

Nothing quite beats the thrill of visiting a distillery by water. Dominic Roskrow looks at the link between whisky and sailing.

These are tense moments. Sturdy breeze is cutting up the water, choppy waves are rocking our boat Grampus, and we're edging forward like a hesitant toddler towards two posts as wide as a goal mouth.

In front of us are beauty and the beasts: the imposing grandeur of Lagavulin Distillery, and in front of it, ancient and jagged rocks. They're not the worst of problems: the readings tell us that our hull is scraping the rocky bottom.

The poles mark the only access to the little bay in front of the distillery and our skipper Stuart Robertson, a mask of tight-lipped concentration, has gone pale.

I've only seen him tense once before, and that unfortunately was when he was shouting and swearing at me. Mind you, he did have a point. I was in the process of capsizing Grampus at the time.

We edge forward towards sister boat Eda Frandsen, which is already safely moored. The hull groans, the engine protests and we reverse back. The tension is palpable. And then suddenly we're through and in, alongside Eda Frandsen, whose captain is already pouring a large Lagavulin for our visiblyrelieved skipper.

“There's no better way to get to Lagavulin than by sea,” announces Diageo's director of malts Nick Morgan. Stewart acts like he hasn't heard him. But this is the moment when it all makes sense. When the intrinsic link between sailing and whisky is most obviously reinforced. With anchor down, with the sun out and early evening sending shadows across the wonderful distillery in front of u...

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