By Marcin Miller

The Miller's Tale

This will be the last time I refer to the Ardbeg-sponsored Islay half marathon. Until next year's race, that is. Although it would not be unfair to suggest that the word 'race' is too strong a term for my approach to the run.Thank you to all my sponsors whose generous donations will help many people living with Alzheimer's.I have never run a competitive race before so I was unsure what to expect. I certainly didn't expect to spend the night before sitting in the crowded bar of the Harbour Inn, drinking several pints of Guinness and listening to whippet thin, sinewy, experienced competitive racers recounting tales of bleeding nipples. And worse.Nor did I expect a full fry-up for breakfast. As we waited at the starting line, the thought crossed my mind that my body is more of a ruin than a temple...What I was looking forward to was the end of the race. The retrospective glow. But, curiously, I found the run very enjoyable because so many Ileachs had turned out to wave and to cheer us on.There is an element of timelessness to Islay that has often been referred to in the pages of this magazine.I would say that the tranquil, unspoilt nature of life on the island applies to the half marathon, too. Seeing 130 runners of all ages and all shapes and sizes queuing up to watch a padlock being removed with the aid of a hacksaw so we could register in the purple caravan sums it up perfectly.We dragged our weary limbs up to the Mariner's Hotel. As is far from unique in these parts, the hotel is run not by locals but by the English.David Dumaresq-Lucas and his wife Jayne bought the hotel just over a year ago. It's not perfect - the decor could do with updating. But we were there for the food: perfect scallops in a Pernod sauce and delicious venison pie. Certainly worth a trip.David then insisted on serving us cocktails made from recipes unearthed in Whisky Magazine. Surely there is no better way to recover from extreme physical exertion? From the traditional world of scallops on Islay to the glorious contemporary setting of Le Palais du Tokyo...Thierry Bénitah is not one to let the grass grow under his feet. One of a handful of the most visionary whisky retailers in the world, he published the most extraordinary brochure for his business and has created something called Le Festival du Whisky.Le Palais du Tokyo is a gallery usually reserved for exhibitions of contemporary art. Thiérry found out that for a short period there was no exhibition booked.He reserved it and the overall effect was extraordinary. Seeing many of the familiar faces and brands in such a different setting was mesmerising.The whitewashed walls, high ceilings and glass roof all gave a splendid light quality for the appreciation of whisky.In particular the whisky names and logos looked splendid in black against the stark white walls. Johnnie Walker's striding man looked truly iconic.As the French have a reputation for being culturally aware, the thousands of visitors looked suitably impressed.It is fair to say that Whisky Magazine has done much to expose the whiskies of Japan to a wider audience.Would the Scotch Malt Whisky Society have bottled casks from Nikka and Suntory had they not shown so well at our Best of the Best tastings?The popularity of the Nikka stand at Whisky Live in London was due in no small measure to visitors having read about the whiskies but never before having had the opportunity to sample them.So I was delighted to learn that Suntory is releasing Hakushu in the UK. You will have seen David and Michael's tasting notes on four expressions of Hakushu in Issue 34, but it is the core 12-year-old expression that is being launched.However, in view of the current controversy about labelling and just to complicate matters, you ought to know this single malt is labelled 'Pure Malt'..