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The Duke and the distilleries: Charles spends his last day in Scotland

Friday was the last day of The Duke and Duchess of Rothesay’s week in Scotland and it ended with a right royal tipple. Two whisky stops were on the books for Charles on the remote Scottish island of Islay (pronounced ‘eye-lah’).

Prince Charles visited the Ardbeg Distillery to commemorate its 200th anniversary. During his visit, he toured the distillery and made a brief stop to sample some of their award-winning whisky. Ardbeg comes from the Scottish Gaelic and translates as ‘small headland.’

The distillery has produced whisky since 1798 and licenced in 1815. By 1886, the Distillery produced 300,000 gallons of whisky per year and employed 60 workers. Production suspended in 1981 but continued a limited basis in 1989 through to 1996. The Distillery was bought and reopened by Glenmorangie plc and has been owned by the French company Moet Hennessy since 2005.

Following the whisky tasting, Charles attended a reception in the main building to mark the distilleries anniversary.

A few miles down the road is the Laphroaig Distillery, which was the second stop of the day for the prince.

Prince Charles visted Laphroaig in 2008 as part of his 60th birthday celebrations.

Prince Charles visted Laphroaig in 2008 as part of his 60th birthday celebrations.

Laphroaig Distillery was named for the area of land at the head of Loch Laphroaig on the south coast of the Isle of Islay. The name Laphroaig is a combination of both the Norse and Gaelic languages.

Laphroaig was established in 1815 by Donald and Alexander Johnston from Clan Donald. Owned by Beam Suntory since 2014, they produce around 13 different types of whisky including Triple Wood, PX Cask and 18, 25, 27, 30 and 40-year-old bottles.

It is the only whisky to carry the Royal Warrant of The Prince of Wales which Charles awarded during a visit to the distillery in 1994. During his visit, The Prince of Wales commented: “I hope you continue to use the traditional methods, I think you make the finest whisky in the world.”

Charles stopped at the Distillery Friday to celebrate its 200th anniversary. During his visit, he learned about the Legacy Fund, filled a cask before seeing their 200th Anniversary Cairn (a man-made pile of stones, used as a trail marker) and unveiled a plaque.

The final engagement of a busy week in Scotland saw The Duke of Rothesay, Lord of the Isles, visit the Finlaggan Information Centre.

Finlaggan holds a significant place in the history of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. The beginnings of settlement on and around Loch Finlaggan seem to date back to the Iron age. In the first half of the 600s, a monastic association was organised on Eilean Mor, the larger of the islands in the loch. Historians claim its dedicated to or perhaps founded by, St Findlugan, an Irish monk.

The Macdonald Lords of the Isles descended from Somerled, a 12th-century prince. The Lords, the chiefs of Clan Donald, decided on Finlaggan as their home and the centre of their Lordship. Islay is commonly referred to as the Cradle of Clan Donald.

Dating back to the 800s, the Hebrides were under rising Norse influence. In 1158, they were expelled by Somerled, the mid-twelfth-century warlord of mixed Norse and Gaelic ancestry. Somerled declared himself King of Man and King of the Isles.

He came close to creating a separate kingdom, free of both Norway and Scotland but the forces of Malcolm IV killed him in 1164. His son Angus Mor Mac Donald established Clan MacDonald and was appointed Lord of Islay by the Norwegian King Håkon IV.

In the 1300s, one of Angus’s descendants, John of Islay, succeeded to gain power over a significant portion of the area that Somerled ruled earlier. Islay accomplished this not as a king, but as the self-styled ‘Lord of the Isles.’ He strengthened his ties with the Scottish Crown by marrying the daughter of King Robert II.

During most of the 1300s and 1400s, Finlaggen formed the administrative centre of the Lordship of the Isles, which at the time ruled a significant portion of the western seaboard of Scotland. The Lords of the Isles minimally governed on behalf of the Scottish Crown. In 1493, the 4th and final Lord of Isles, John Macdonald II was stripped of his titles by King James III.

During the rest of the visit, Charles met representatives of the Finlaggan Trust. He then visited the small peninsula on Loch Finlaggan to view the remains of buildings where the installations took place and met those involved in Finlaggan’s preservation.

Photo credit: Jack Shainsky via Flickr

Featured Photo credit: Peter Broster via Flickr

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