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Well, of course we came for the whisky but…

It’s the middle of summer in Scotland, so obviously it was cold, wet, and VERY windy as we boarded our second ferry, bound for the Isle of Islay.

Islay is a small island off the west coast of Scotland with about 3000 people who make some of the world’s best whisky in their nine distilleries. Their natural peat bogs provide the signature smoky flavor, and their air and water does the rest.

And we will, I swear, do our best to taste them all.

But on this cold, wet, incredibly windy mid-July day, our first stop practically out off the ferry was inspired by a small roadside sign discreetly pointing to Islay Woollen Mill. We went up the narrow lane which wound around into another world.

The waters that used to power the old mill still sing past its walls.

Rusting, now discarded pieces are slowly going back to the woods.

But the mill is still running, as it has for the past 139 years.

Gordon and Sheila Covell, Directors of the Islay Woollen Mill Co Ltd, along with their son Marcus and the rest of their team still weave their traditional patterns in wool on their century-old looms, even though their power no longer comes from the surrounding water. For the past thirty-plus years, the cloth produced by the Covells’ family-run business has not only sold around the world, but has also had starring roles in Hollywood blockbusters  including Braveheart, Forrest Gump, Rob Roy, Warhorse, and The Big Friendly Giant.

Sheila Covell showed off one of her designs, a gorgeous shawl she wove. (Well, OF COURSE it came home with me!)


And that was just our first morning!

Slàinte Mhath!