As you know, Dear Reader, I’m not much for bucket lists. But if I had such a thing, visiting Islay, home to more than a half-dozen active distilleries and cradle of smoky, briny, in-your-face, peated scotches, would be on it.
I first heard of Islay (EYE-la) in 2002, while writing about wave energy projects of all things, and have been captivated by its remote, romantic setting in the Inner Hebrides ever since.
So, I was chuffed, tickled pink and generally delighted when I recently got the chance to visit Islay as part of an international group of writers brought in for the 200th anniversary of Laphroaig.
As is my wont, I have commemorated my visit with this slick and highly professional slideshow. Which is to say, maybe one of these days I will graduate beyond Windows MovieMaker. But not today.
Laphroaig is the best-known of the peated scotch whiskies and has a loyal following. If you buy a bottle, you can follow instructions inside the packaging and register your own 1-foot-square plot of land on the property, which you can then visit and demand rent of a miniature bottle of whisky.
There’s a cool story behind the land (there’s a cool story behind a lot of stuff at Laphroaig). Back in the day, a rival was obsessed with duplicating Laphroaig’s taste, to the point that there was an attempt to divert the distillery’s water source, Kilbride Stream. Laphroaig secured the stream and bought up lots of land all around it to make sure it stayed that way, hence the room for plots. When you visit, you get a pair of loaned wellies, GPS coordinates and a little flag to stick on your land.
I’ve got a plot, naturally, which means that while I may look like a poor, broke freelancer on the outside, I’m actually a Scottish landowner. Chew on that.