Ardnahoe Distillery

For the past few days there has been a bitterly cold wind blowing across the land. According to the Happy Farmer it’s a ‘snell’ wind, one that doesn’t go around you, but bites right through you.

On the farm the whisky journey continues as today the tractor is trundling up and down the field, ploughing huge furrows in the ground, ready for the barley seed to be sown and the fields dressed.

It’s been a bit of a ‘whisky’ week for us at Persabus. On Friday our new neighbours invited us along to the opening of their distillery. We got to celebrate as speeches were given and ribbons cut as Ardnahoe Distillery was officially declared open. We enjoyed fabulous hospitality from the Laing family. Champagne flowed and a fine buffet was presented. There were tours of the amazing premises and stories of the whisky journey as we were led past mash tons and stills. What a back drop. Huge picture windows look out across the Sound of Islay to the spectacular west coast of Jura. A wild, rugged and colourful landscape. The amazing views, coupled with the gorgeous scent of whisky brewing in the gleaming copper stills, proved a real feast for the senses. To see those huge stills in their new home, producing whisky, was a momentous day. It was some months back, on a clear winter’s morning, that the Happy Farmer and I had watched as they came trundling along the single-track road, through the farm, to Ardnahoe. The gigantic stills paused for a quick Persabus photo shoot, before continuing their journey over the hill to their new home.

It has been an exciting journey.

Persabus has always had close ties with Ardnahoe. As a young boy the Happy Farmer spent half his young life there helping Hughie and Baldie on the farm. Making hay, feeding beasts, Hughie would often appear out of the blue and ‘borrow’ the Happy Farmer and any of his friends who happened to be ‘available’ to help out, and get them working on the various tasks needing done at Ardnahoe .The youngsters would be expected to do a ‘hands turn’ whenever needed. It was a way of life.

In the early summer they would sit outside the old byre, clipping the sheep by hand. Fleeces would be rolled carefully on old trestle tables. Stories would be shared in the sunshine. Clipping sheep by hand was hard manual labour but there was always good humour and banter.

The new distillery is just down from where the original farmhouse once stood.

It was a few years back when the factor of one of the local estates popped by for morning coffee and told us the exciting news of plans for this new distillery. The buzz continued when Jim McEwan called in to share his vision as he led the project forward, even inviting our eldest to join the team who were working hard to take the dream and make it a reality. In those early days the farmhouse kitchen table would be a hub for phone calls and emails, providing much needed links to the world beyond, when wifi and phone signals were required.

We watched as lorries, vans and machinery of all shapes and sizes made their way through the farm as work progressed.

On Friday we saw the result of all the hard work of the teams who turned this quiet landscape into an impressive new venture. It didn’t disappoint. Spacious and beautifully finished. We got to bottle our own whisky, straight from the cask, labels signed, and a duty sticker attached. The Happy Farmer was wishing he had brought his bucket along, but with the original illicit still from Ardnahoe tucked away in a corner of Persabus, who knows, maybe one day he will be filling that bucket with whisky.

Until next time…