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Scotland and Peru celebrate ancient link

Scotland’s legendary whisky island and a tiny Peruvian town are celebrating a remarkable discovery – they were once joined together.

Geologists have discovered that the Isle of Islay in Scotland was joined to the Peruvian coast 750 million years ago, at the very spot at which there is another town called Islay.

And to celebrate the link, Mark Reynier, managing director of Bruichladdich distillery on the island, invited the Mayor of Islay in Peru to be guest of honour at its open day during the recent Malt and Music festival, which also marked Bruichladdich’s 125th anniversary.

The mayor, Miguel Roman Valdivia, presented his hosts with Pisco, the Peruvian national spirit, and Bruichladdich released a commemorative limited-editon bottling: an 18-year-old whisky called ‘The Mayor of Islay’.

‘I feel very at home here,’ an emotional Valdivia said. ‘We may have been separated 750 million years ago, but I feel we have joined as one again.’

Reynier himself discovered the link when investigating the gneiss rock fissure through which the distillery’s spring water flows. He found the rock was 1,800 million years old – three times older than the rest of the island.

Further research showed the same rock is found in Peru’s Arequipa province, home to its own Islay. The two were split during techtonic plate shifting 750 million years ago.

Reynier and Valdivia have now formalised a twinning arrangement between the two communities.

Written by Tina Gellie

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