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Digital Subscriptions > iScot Magazine > February/March 2019 > Whisky of the Islands Uisge Beatha nan Eilean

Whisky of the Islands Uisge Beatha nan Eilean

The centre of Castlebay, Barra, with low cloud over the hill of Heaval
Too wee, too poor, too stupid? Aye right

NOTWITHSTANDING some outrageous union-flaggery in recent times (are you listening Bells, M&S, et al?) everybody knows that whisky is synonymous with Scotland – the ‘Scotch’ descriptor is a bit of a giveaway after all! Whisky is one of Scotland’s most valuable exports, worth almost £5 billion annually – according to the Scotch Whisky Association that represents £139 every second! – and accounts for over 20% of UK exports… perhaps yet another reason why Westminster is ‘reluctant’ to acknowledge Scotland’s potential. Too wee, too poor, too stupid? Aye right!

There are more than 10,000 people directly employed in the Scotch whisky industry and, as of 2018, 128 whisky distilleries in Scotland. Many of these are owned by the big-name conglomerates but a significant and growing number of small independent craft distilleries are steadily emerging. Aiming to add to that number is the Barra Distillery or Uisge Beatha nan Eilean, literally meaning whisky of the islands. It’s interesting that, despite Barra being made famous as the setting for the 1949 film Whisky Galore!, this will be the island’s first (legal) whisky distillery.

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