I have many fond memories of my week on Islay attending the Bruichladdich whiskey academy.
The people of Islay were warm and friendly, the air was clean and the food was fresh. I was able to get my hands dirty gaining practical experience of all aspects of whiskey production from barley to bottle. Malting, milling, mashing, fermenting, distilling, filling, warehousing, bottling and needless to say tasting.
The throb of the turbo prop twin propeller aircraft landing me on Islay; the strength of the stiff sea breeze coming in off the Atlantic; the sweet taste of malted barley grains. The clacking of the mill making grist; the thunderous power of thousands of gallons of water filling Mash Tuns; the smell of fermenting yeast in washbacks; the hiss and heat in still rooms; the piece of damp and dark warehouses; the weight of bourbon barrels and sherry butts; the rhythmic clinking of the bottling line; the gentle tinckle of drams of aged single malt whiskey in nosing glasses; the unrestrained laughter of students at the university of life; these impressions of Islay and her people plus many more memories will stay with me for a very long time.
Just as well really as Mr Martin Roberts and I are now joint owners of a barrel of new make spirit which is maturing in a bonded warehouse overlooking the atlantic ocean. It should be ready to drink some time after the year 2017.
Oh and did I mention that my favourite new word is “reflux” – vapour which falls to be redistilled resulting in only the lightest cleanest vapour making it to the condenser.