Persabus: the Gateway to the North Islay Distilleries

The Happy Farmer has been ‘heuching and cheuching’. We’ve been away for a short break of mainland living. Shops, restaurants, trains, mountains, museums, galleries, Christmas lights, fireworks and rugby. It was lovely to get away and lovely to return home.

When you step off the plane the crisp cold air envelopes you. You can breathe again. On the journey home from the airport we pass gulls and oyster catchers ‘breakfasting’ on the shoreline. At Persabus the front field is a hive of activity as the Barnacle Geese feed on the remaining barley and grass. Their chatter filling the air as they waddle about the field.

We have had a hectic fun filled time. It is customary when ‘overseas’ to meet a fellow Ileach or two. A trip to the cities wouldn’t feel complete without it. What a welcome we got when in the bustling, tourist filled streets of Edinburgh we happened upon Angus. What a party Angus and the Happy Farmer had, as Angus led the Happy Farmer astray. Visiting his favourite haunts they met Dave the Ghost and were entertained by amazing music from Accostic Dave. These Ileachs do indeed get everywhere.

At the airport we met one of ‘Islay’s youngsters’ heading away to distant climes. A week of filming. Marketing work for one of the island’s distilleries. Japan, Singapore, Europe, the US, Australia, New Zealand to name but a few, Islay’s young ambassadors travel the globe sharing their culture and heritage on the worldwide stage of the whisky industry. The Happy Farmer likes to think he offers the same warm island welcome when the globe travels to our Islay farm accommodation at Persabus. Persabus is the new gateway to the north Islay distilleries. The Happy Farmer hasn’t introduced a toll yet, but a warm welcome awaits you at Persabus both in our Pottery and Ceramic Cafe and in our farm accommodation.

The younger Persabus generation have all enjoyed their seasons as tour guides in the Islay distilleries. Providing a much needed boost to support their studies, it gave them a unique introduction to working life. Learning more about their island heritage and its whisky journey. Meeting visitors. They confidently took pride in their island and enjoyed sharing it with the wider community of the world.

Eldest worked for several seasons at Bruichladdich Distillery. There is even a Valinch dedicated to her. Valinch no:22. Bruichladdich Distillery celebrates and embraces its staff choosing different employees for each Valinch. What a fantastic experience. Latterly Hunter Laing employed her to work for Ardnahoe Distillery, at the beginning of its Islay journey going from a dream to the reality of being Islay’s ninth distillery. It is nestled in the farmland in one of the island’s most stunning locations, close to the shoreline, with the panorama of the Sound of Islay, the Paps of Jura, Mull and Colonsay unfolding.

Our son worked at both Bunnahabhain and Bruichladdich Distilleries. He then went on to work for Beam Suntory at Laphroaig Distillery. Guiding groups on water to whisky tours. Teaching people the skills of peat cutting. Leading them on the whisky journey from its water source through to the distillation process. The Persabus peat spades still lie beside the wood burning stove in the pottery workshop. We burn coal and logs these days, but the tools of yesteryear are still dotted all around the farm and steadings.

Youngest stepped into her distillery journey as a tour guide at Bunnahabhain last summer.

Young islanders have always travelled the globe. Today the youngsters travel in their role as ambassadors for the island and its whisky. Young people are at the heart of the community. It is lovely to see so many travelling so far. It is also lovely to see so many choosing to return, to settle here. Raising young families, making it their island home. Choice exits today thanks to generations of Ileachs who have kept the whisky journey alive. Careers are growing as Islay’s whisky story continues to unfold.

Until next time…

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