Islay Exchange

 On a constant mission to prove the old adage, ‘never mix business with pleasure’ wrong, Dan Woolley’s latest dispatch from the shores of Islay certainly warms the cockles as he shares just one small drop of his experience. Read on for a taster.

     As some of you may know I love my whisky. You might have also heard somewhere that there is one whisky that I hold closer to my heart than all others. My beloved Laphroaig and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you all for supporting my dream job over the last 3 years. Let me paint a picture for you….

     A couple of months ago I was speaking with my good friend and Laphroaig distillery manager Mr John Campbell and he invited me to come over to work at the distillery for the Laphroaig open day on the Islay festival and stay with him in his house inside the distillery for a few weeks. To say that I was excited beyond belief was an understatement. I’ve been to Islay many times before, worked at Laphroaig and even stayed with John before but this was next level. The Islay festival or Feis as it’s known is one of the largest whisky festivals on the planet with over 15,000 people from all over the world attending. 

        What an honour…. but it didn’t end there. I was to launch the special Laphroaig festival bottling, the Laphroaig Cairdeas 2017, to the world and also launch the Bowmore festival bottlings in a masterclass inside the malt kilns co-hosting with David Turner, Bowmores distillery manager. The highlight of my trip was the day before the Laphroaig open day when John said to me that we had a mission to undertake – To hunt through the warehouses and find the best Laphroaig in the distillery to use in the warehouse tastings on the open day. Hard day at the office, I know, right? It took us the best part of a day hunting through several warehouses and tasting dozens of different casks but we were triumphant in finding a couple of amazing smoky dream drams. An Amontillado sherry cask and a 25-year-old first fill American oak ex-bourbon tropical fruit bomb. What a great experience and magnificent day!

      The wealth of experience and knowledge gained from this trip was immeasurable and only through my role with the Exchange as National Whisky Ambassador, traveling around Australia, can I impart some of these tall tales and recount some incredible whisky adventures with you all. I may even have a special whisky stashed away to share with you. I hope to see you all over the next coming months for smoky trainings and events that only The Exchange can provide.


Photography by Konrad Borkowski