Islay Heritage is delighted to announce that it will receive a donation of £310,000 from the Lagavulin 200 Legacy fund in 2017. The money will be used to fund a number of activities on Islay over the next few years. These will include funding archaeological excavations, as well as enhancing accessibility and interpretation of the numerous sites and monuments important to the islands heritage.

This considerable donation to Islay Heritage coincides with 2017 being designated as Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

Lagavulin itself is part of Islay’s heritage; 2016 having been the 200th anniversary of the iconic single-malt whisky. On Hogmanay 2016, Lagavulin concluded its bicentenary celebrations by launching a special one-off edition of just 522 bottles from a single cask to raise funds to invest in Islay community projects as part of the distillery’s legacy to the community of Islay.

Steven Mithen, Trustee of Islay Heritage and Professor of Archaeology said: “Islay Heritage is hugely grateful to the Lagavulin 200 Legacy for the support it is providing to further our knowledge about the archaeological sites and monuments on Islay. This investment in our heritage will greatly benefit both the local community and visitors to the island. While some of Islay’s sites and monuments are very well known and accessible, others are virtually unknown, difficult to find and rarely visited. There are no doubt many more waiting to be discovered which will help tell us more about not only Islay’s story but that of Scotland, Europe and the path of human culture as a whole. We are delighted that Lagavulin shares our vision to reveal Islay’s past so that it can be explored and enjoyed by everyone.”

Local records suggest that Lagavulin was already a centre of whisky production in the early 18th century. John Johnston founded the first legal distillery at Lagavulin Bay in 1816, however there had almost certainly been many other illicit stills before. As with all Scottish distilleries, it passed through the hands of different owners, including the celebrated Sir Peter Mackie, whose company became White Horse Distillers, forever associated with Lagavulin. White Horse joined The Distillers Company Ltd. (eventually Diageo) in 1927. In 1989, Lagavulin, now normally bottled at 16 years rather than the original 12, became one of the six Classic Malts of Scotland™.

Nick Morgan, Lagavulin’s Head of Outreach, said: “We have had a fantastic time celebrating the 200th anniversary of Lagavulin, both on Islay and with the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who adore the whisky. Islay and its remarkable local community are at the heart of Lagavulin, that’s why we were determined that the island and its people would benefit directly from the Lagavulin legacy.
“We believe that our contribution to Islay Heritage is not only of great significance to the island itself but is an important contribution to conserving and promoting the history and heritage of Scotland, which is particularly fitting given that 2017 is Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.”

The proceeds from the legacy bottling are being distributed amongst seven local projects. Other projects on Islay which will be receiving donations include: Finlaggan Trust, McTaggart Cyber Café; McTaggart Leisure Centre; Islay Arts; Islay Festival Association; and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.