In 2007, Jura Distillery renovated the old manager’s house that sits tall and adjacent to the distillery, overlooking Small Isles Bay and the distillery courtyard. The furniture, fixtures and fittings are an eccentric and eclectic mix of stuff that just plain works, right down to the old black typewriter in the lounge/kitchen at the top of the stairs. And within these premises, Jura Distillery sought to create an environment that would enhance the creativity
of those prone to bouts of the stuff – predominantly of a literary fashion in keeping with the island’s George Orwell heritage, but also conducive to those steeped in the visual arts.
The distillery’s partner in this promising venture is the Scottish Book Trust who have established the Jura Malt Whisky Writers’ Retreat Programme, of which this book, ‘Spirit of Jura’ is the first manifestation to reach its expectant public. Consisting of several short stories and poems by such as Liz Lochhead, Kathleen Jamie and Romesh Gunesekera, this is an adventurous and praiseworthy volume that seeks to do exactly what it says on the tin. Sandwiched in the centre of this feast of poetry and prose, is a series of ‘oak gall’ landscape drawings by David Faithfull. According to the accompanying text, oak gall ink was revered by calligraphers and artists for centuries, illuminating the pages of the Book of Kells around 800AD.
‘Spirit of Jura’ is a wonderful little volume that can be dipped in and out of as the mood occurs. None of the essays or stories are so long that the reader need settle down in one of the capacious leather armchairs that inhabit the Lodge, while the contents will provide a taste of the island just warming enough to necessitate a visit. Delightful. brian palmer
Spirit of Jura can be purchased from C &E Roy on Islay or from the distillery shop on Jura