Lochindaal Distillery, Islay.
ON the other side of the loch, and nearly opposite Bowmore, is Lochindaal, and thither we first drove the next morning. It is six miles from the hotel, and situated in the heart of what is called the “Garden of Islay.” Our way lay through the village of Bridgend, which is planted at the head of the loch and almost hidden by trees. The gardens of every house and cottage are well cultivated, and such a profusion of flowers we have never seen in any village in Scotland. The hawthorn, laburnums, and roses, literally filled the air with their fragrance, and the lawn-like meadows, the fresh green foliage of the beautiful trees, and the dog-roses in the hedges all reminded us of old England. As we crossed the ancient stone bridge we had a peep through the trees of a long stretch of the river wooded to its waters edge, where several of our companions at the hotel were busy fishing, and who supplied our table with some fine trout, the result of their day’s sport. We next passed Islay House, which stands in an extensive park surrounded by fir plantations. Thousands of rhododendrons adorn this park massed together in deep rich colours or planted in patches and groups on the fringe of the woods. After passing Islay House the road skirted the loch for the rest of the journey. Lochindaal is really an arm of the sea, expanding into the Bay of Laggan, and terminating at the Point of Rhynns on the west, and the Maol-na-Ho on the east, where it forms the capacious Bay of Laggan. The cliffs on the Maol-na-Ho rise to a great height, and in one of them is a large cave called Sloc Mhaol Doraidh, of historical and smuggling fame, many a good cask of Whisky having been removed therefrom to the coasting ships. The nefarious and immoral trade of illicit distillation used to be carried on all over the island to a very great extent, and Whisky making was formerly, as now, the staple commodity of Islay. The steady and persistent discountenance which the illicit traffic received from the proprietors of the island in the early part of the present century, and the introduction of legal Distilleries, has well nigh put an end to smuggling. Along the route our driver pointed out several abandoned haunts of the smugglers.
As we drove along, the sea was smooth and calm as an in land lake; but here after a gale the Atlantic waves break in most magnificent array, and it is a sight never to be forgotten. We next passed Bruichladdich Distillery, which lies on the side of the road. Two miles further on we reached Port Charlotte, a village of little importance and interest except for the large Distillery owned by Mr. Sheriff, which employs a number of the labouring class, and gives some little life to the locality. At the back of the Distillery the ground rises into hills near the top of which are two beautiful lochs, the Garroch and Octomore, from whence the water supply to the Distillery is obtained. The works, which were built early in the century, cover about two acres of ground, and although old fashioned are very compact and conveniently arranged for the operations of the Distillery. We entered by a gateway which faces the sea; on the right are small offices and a residence for the Brewer, on the left the spacious Granaries and Malt Barns, and in the front the Distillery proper. The Kiln is floored with German wire cloth, the first we have seen in the island, and we were informed that it is very expensive. Peat only is used in drying the malt, fired in open chauffeurs. The old Mash-house, which is kept very clean and is white-washed, contains a circular Mash Tun, the Underback, and two heating Coppers. In the Tun-room there are eight Washbacks, with an average capacity of 10,000 gallons each. The Still-house, which is a neat building, well lighted, contains three old Pot Stills and the usual Receivers and Chargers. On the opposite side of the road, on the sea shore, are several large bonded Warehouses, capable of holding 5,000 casks. The Whisky is pure Islay Malt, and part of it is shipped from Bruichladdich pier, the remainder floated out to the ships, ten casks being lashed together by iron pins and a chain called “dogs,” and towed out by boatmen.
Mr. Miller is the general manager. The output in 1884-5 was 127,068 bulk gallons.