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Islay Running Dry

Picture of a huge wave crashing over a pier

Looking at the sunny, calm and very mild for the season afternoon I've had in Swindon today it's strange to write about a problem Islay is facing. The picture illustrating this entry at first glance might be misleading as well:

It's not a shortage of water Islay is facing, but a shortage of oil, according to Bruichladdich Distillery. From the Bruichladdich press release:

The island’s eight distillers are dependant on nine oil deliveries a year, brought to the island by sea. The oil delivery scheduled for 17th November was turned back forcing distilleries to shut off their stills and close down production as supplies dwindled and finally ran out today.

Roughly 250 barrels per day of new whisky are made on the island which equals to a liability of £988,000 of Alcohol Duty a day. With no road tankers available for this type of oil delivery and exceptionally high freight charges by State-run ferry operator Calmac, and restricted capacity for commercial vehicles, there is no viable alternative fuel source.

The tanker returned to harbour after being moored in Lochindaal for 4 days without unloading. Although the wind was modest (for Islay) the conditions at the exposed pier was deemed to be unsuitable. Apparently only perfectly calm conditions are appropriate.

Since then, there has been a series of gales lashing the island preventing further supply. A re-supply attempt is anticipated once a period of calm weather arrives. But that is not expected soon. Islay is buffeted by 25 gales a year from low pressure systems mainly during the winter months.

The news even made it on to the business pages of The Times: Shell tries to weather whisky storm. And the picture makes sense as well.



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