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The Scotch Whisky Industry has enjoyed a strong period of growth over the past decade and shows no sign of slowing down.
Seeing new distilleries popping up in many rural locations is heartening to witness and exciting for the future of many small communities.
I was lucky to visit one of these new endeavours recently on a whisky-
When the new Ardnamurchan Distillery first began producing spirit, Andrew, our friend Scott Brown from Perthshire and I jointly purchased a barrel. That spirit had just celebrated its third birthday and could now rightfully be called Scotch whisky, so a sampling of the product was in order.
We loaded the St Olave with accordions, bagpipes and a few extra whisky tasters and headed up the Sound of Mull and round into Glenmore Bay at the northern side of the entrance to Loch Sunart.
The distillery is less than 10 minutes walk from the landing place at the head of the bay so we were soon welcomed in out of the strong south-
easterly wind and driving rain.
The impressive new buildings and the seven full-time jobs that the business provides are a significant addition to area. The extra numbers of holiday-makers that this will attract to Ardnamurchan and the knock-on seasonal benefits is of great value but it is the full-time, year-round, long-term jobs created that is the most important outcome of this new business.
After being greeted warmly by Keith Falconer, the charismatic co-owner of the company, we were soon taken through to the huge storage shed where the Skipinnish Glen Kingie dram was maturing away happily in its sherry cask. What a dram!
I’m not going to go into all the usual twitter about it tasting of such things as chocolate and Christmas cake with notes of cinnamon, old boots, rainbows and other such peripheral and over-analytical waffle. It tasted like whisky – and an extremely good one.
If we can resist returning to sample the cask too often, it will be a very special dram if it lasts until it is 10 years old.
After a few tunes and tastings of various other special bottlings at the in-house bar, we walked back to the boat, rumbled her up and headed for the sheltered waters of Loch Drambuidh to anchor for the night.
The first syllable of the name of our chosen anchorage gives some clue as to what our evening entailed. Any neighbouring yachts hoping for a tranquil night sheltering from the bad weather were in for a shock. Bagpipes, songs and much laughter were ringing out across the secluded inlet and a few cabin lights came on in what we hoped was happy response.
Ali Murray was in charge of administering the refreshments and he was erring on the side of session. He had bought a very fine bottle from the distillery shop and had kindly gifted it to the boat. As he commented: ‘It was a great dram, but she went terrible quick in the end.’
The forecast for the following day was moderate to rough, becoming very rough.
Luckily, the weather was good though and, with the glow in our minds of a great day and night spent with good friends, we returned to Dunstaffnage satisfied in the knowledge that our whisky definitely had done its job and was maturing well.