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Islay Distilleries Water Shortage

December 3, 2011 by staff 

Islay Distilleries Water Shortage, Residents of Scotland’s Western Isles have been enjoying a rare few weeks of sunshine, but the prolonged dry spell is not so welcome among the whisky distillers, many of whom have been forced to halt production because of water shortages.

Half the 10 distilleries on the Isle of Islay have been hit. A layer of peat at the highest point of the island has become dehydrated, causing several burns to stop flowing. This in turn means that the lochs the distilleries draw from are not topped up and are quickly emptied.

Mark Reynier, managing director of Bruichladdich Distillery, said: ‘We’ve had to stop production for the past 10 days. We’re a small private distillery so we’ve been able to keep everybody occupied by getting on with routine repairs and other stuff, but for the big industrial distilleries the dry spell has probably caused a lot of problems in keeping staff busy.

‘What we need is two or three days of constant drizzle. Heavy rain is no use as it just runs straight off the top into the sea, which doesn’t solve the problem.

‘The reason some distilleries are struggling on and some have stopped altogether is that there is a divide between north and south. Laphroaig, Ardbeg and Lagavulin in the southern end draw their water from the high ground on the island, at about 450 to 480 metres, so they have a slightly more regular water supply. They haven’t stopped, but have had to slow down and I was told by the manager of Lagavulin last Sunday that they have about four weeks or so to go before stopping. At the north end, ourselves, Caol Isla, Bowmore, Bunnahabhain and Kilchoman draw from lower-lying lochs, making us more susceptible to drought conditions than the others.’

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