Meek Mill attends NBA game hours after jail release


US rapper Meek Mill has made his first public appearance after being freed from prison at a basketball game in Philadelphia.

The star, whose real name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, spent five months in jail after being sentenced to serve two to four years in November for probation violations.

His supporters have been running a campaign to get him out while he appeals against gun and drug convictions dating back 10 years.

On Tuesday, the state Supreme Court directed the Philadelphia judge who jailed him to immediately issue an order releasing him on unsecured bail.

“I feel great,” he said before entering the Wells Fargo Centre, where he rang the ceremonial bell before the start of Game 5 of the Philadelphia 76ers-Miami Heat play-off series.

Meek Mill was at the NBA game in Philadelphia soon after leaving prison
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Meek Mill was at the NBA game in Philadelphia soon after leaving prison

“It would just mean a lot for him to be back in Philly, in the city of Philadelphia with the fans, especially with a game like that tonight,” 76ers player Ben Simmons said.

“Welcome home Meek Mill,” the game announcer told the rapper, who sat courtside next to actor Kevin Hart, Sixers co-owner Michael Rubin, Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and Democratic Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf.

Before the game, Mill greeted the home team’s players in their changing room.

A team of lawyers had campaigned to get Mill freed, levelling fierce criticism at the judge as a stream of high-powered figures and celebrities visited him in jail hours before the Supreme Court ruling.

Mill issued a statement saying the past months had been “a nightmare”, and thanked his many supporters and visitors, who included Mr Rubin and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

“Although I’m blessed to have the resources to fight this unjust situation, I understand that many people of colour across the country don’t have that luxury and I plan to use my platform to shine a light on those issues,” Mill said.

He said he would focus his attention on getting his convictions overturned and look forward to resuming his music career.

Suspect Arrested in Golden State Killer Case After Decades


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The Golden State Killer is thought to have killed 12 people, raped 45 people and burglarized more than 120 homes in multiple communities between 1976 and 1986.

Credit
Federal Bureau of Investigation

The authorities confirmed on Wednesday that they had made an arrest in the unsolved case of a serial killer and rapist who terrorized communities in California in the 1970s and 1980s.

Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, was arrested on a warrant from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department and booked early Wednesday on two counts of murder, according to Sacramento County jail records. A person familiar with the matter confirmed that Mr. DeAngelo had been arrested in connection with the case.

The Golden State Killer, also known as the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker, is thought to have killed 12 people, raped 45 people and burglarized more than 120 homes in multiple communities between 1976 and 1986. He raped and killed women home alone, women at home with their children, and husbands and wives from Sacramento to Orange County, the authorities said.

Shelly Orio, a spokeswoman for the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office, said only that there had been a “major development” when asked to confirm local news media reports that there had been an arrest in the case.

The Sacramento district attorney, Anne Marie Schubert, and Sheriff Scott Jones will announce the development in the case at 12 p.m. local time in Sacramento, Ms. Schubert’s office said.

In June 2016, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced in a news conference that it would offer a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the “prolific serial rapist and murderer.”

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Suspect Arrested in Golden State Killer Case After Decades


Photo

The Golden State Killer is thought to have killed 12 people, raped 45 people and burglarized more than 120 homes in multiple communities between 1976 and 1986.

Credit
Federal Bureau of Investigation

The authorities confirmed on Wednesday that they had made an arrest in the unsolved case of a serial killer and rapist who terrorized communities in California in the 1970s and 1980s.

Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, was arrested on a warrant from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department and booked early Wednesday on two counts of murder, according to Sacramento County jail records. A person familiar with the matter confirmed that Mr. DeAngelo had been arrested in connection with the case.

The Golden State Killer, also known as the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker, is thought to have killed 12 people, raped 45 people and burglarized more than 120 homes in multiple communities between 1976 and 1986. He raped and killed women home alone, women at home with their children, and husbands and wives from Sacramento to Orange County, the authorities said.

Shelly Orio, a spokeswoman for the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office, said only that there had been a “major development” when asked to confirm local news media reports that there had been an arrest in the case.

The Sacramento district attorney, Anne Marie Schubert, and Sheriff Scott Jones will announce the development in the case at 12 p.m. local time in Sacramento, Ms. Schubert’s office said.

In June 2016, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced in a news conference that it would offer a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the “prolific serial rapist and murderer.”

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Twitter posts profit and adds 6 million users



Twitter posted its second consecutive quarterly profit as it added more users and reaped the benefit of streaming video. 

The San Francisco-based social-media network beat analysts’ expectations of a small loss with a profit of $61m (£44m) in the first three months of this year.

In the same period a year earlier, Twitter made a loss of $61.6m. It made its first profit in the fourth-quarter of 2017 after 12 years of losses.

First-quarter revenue rose 21% to $664.9m (£476m), beating analysts’ expectations, and ad revenue also soared 21% to $575m (£412m), the company said.

It added six million users in the first quarter, taking its active user base to 336 million. Most of the new users came from outside of the US.

Despite high-profile users like the US President Donald Trump, Twitter has struggled to attract people.

It still lags behind Facebook and Google’s YouTube for users, but it has been working on attempting to engage them with more video and sports highlights.

At the same time, it has been tackling hate speech, fake news and abusive behaviour on its network.

“We’ve begun sharing curated timelines of Tweets around breaking news events,” the company said.

“Video remains an important component of the experience on Twitter, allowing people to post relevant live broadcasts or video clips.

“Our ability to detect malicious automation, spam, and fake accounts also improved significantly.

“Our systems continue to identify and challenge millions of suspicious accounts globally per week as a result of our sustained investments in improving information quality on Twitter.”

Union boss slams 'Corbyn-hater' Labour MPs


A union boss has accused Labour MPs of “working overtime” to portray the party as a “morass of misogyny, anti-Semitism and bullying”.

Unite leader Len McCluskey took aim at “promiscuous critics” of leader Jeremy Corbyn, in comments likely to deepen the party’s anti-Semitism row.

Writing in the New Statesman magazine, Mr McCluskey accused MPs Chris Leslie, Neil Coyle, John Woodcock, Wes Streeting and Ian Austin of “polluting” Mr Corbyn’s bid to tackle the problem.

“I look with disgust at the behaviour of the Corbyn-hater MPs who join forces with the most reactionary elements of the media establishment and I understand why there is a growing demand for mandatory reselection,” he wrote.

“To watch as these so-called social democrats tried to demean and attack, in front of our enemy, a decent and honourable man who has fought racism and anti-Semitism all his life and who has breathed life and hope back into the hearts of millions, especially the young, made my stomach churn.

“To see Tory MPs cheer and applaud them was shameful.”

Corbyn continues to be the focus of an anti-semitism row
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Mr Corbyn said his meeting with Jewish community leaders on Tuesday was ‘positive and constructive’

Mr Streeting responded: “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: no abuse, intimidation or threats of deselection will prevent me from voicing the concerns of my Jewish constituents about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.”

Mr Coyle wrote on Twitter: “Jeremy says anti-Semitism must be tackled. Len claims it doesn’t exist. Undermining the leader and party efforts to tackle the problem.”

Mr Corbyn met leaders of the Jewish community on Tuesday, describing the meeting as “positive and constructive”.

But his efforts to rebuild trust appeared to fall on deaf ears – with leaders of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) accusing him of not backing up his words with actions.

Board of Deputies president Jonathan Arkush and JLC chair Jonathan Goldstein said “a deep cultural change” was required within the party in order to win back trust from the Jewish community.

Labour MPs Luciana Berger (centre) and Jess Philllips (right) at a demonstration outside the Labour party disciplinary hearing for Marc Wadsworth in London.
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About 30 MPs marched with Ruth Smeeth to the hearing

A senior Labour spokesman said Mr Corbyn has been absolutely clear that “he will lead the drive to eradicate anti-Semitism from the party and will not tolerate it”.

He said Tuesday’s meeting with Jewish groups was “constructive” and that the Labour leader “regards it as completely understandable that leaders of the Jewish community want to see action and not just words”.

There are currently 90 cases of anti-Semitism being investigated by the party, making up around 0.02% of Labour’s membership of around 500,000, the spokesman added.

In the last three years a total of 300 complaints of anti-Semitism have been made, around half of which led to people being expelled from or leaving the party.

Labour party activist Marc Wadsworth arrives at a Labour party disciplinary in London.
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Activist Marc Wadsworth arrives at his disciplinary hearing

Earlier on Wednesday, dozens of Labour MPs marched with Jewish colleague Ruth Smeeth as she went to give evidence at the disciplinary hearing of a suspended activist accused of anti-Semitism.

They were met by a small group of counter-protesters who carried placards and chanted in support of Marc Wadsworth.

He was suspended by the party after accusing Ms Smeeth of “working hand-in-hand” with the Daily Telegraph.

Mr Wadsworth has told Sky News he did not know Ms Smeeth was Jewish when he made the comment.

TSB crisis is a cautionary tale for British banks


A reputation can take a long time to build but can disappear in a flash.

Well, it’s been longer than a flash, but TSB has done a good job of trashing its own stature over the past few days.

It’s gone from being a popular challenger bank to the focus of relentless criticism. TSB, all of a sudden, has become the unwilling byword for unreliable technology.

Is that unfair? Almost certainly. Upgrading the bank’s entire technical foundation was always likely to be a difficult challenge and involve disruption. Customers got a warning that transactions might be affected and, sure enough, they were.

But the disruption was worse – a lot worse – than predicted. That’s largely because, firstly, there was a glitch that briefly allowed a small group of customers to see information from other people’s accounts.

TSB responded to that by taking the whole system offline for a while, but when news of the problem leaked out, customers got nervous.

They had to wait until Monday morning to access their accounts, only to find that the system still wasn’t working properly.

Not only were there still glitches, but they were exacerbated by the huge number of people now trying to log on, following a weekend without sight of their finances.

Confronted by a creaking website and a struggling app, TSB decided to turn them off again in order to get the problems sorted properly.

The repairs took longer than expected – it wasn’t until the early hours of Wednesday morning that chief executive Paul Pester declared that “the app and online banking are now up and running”.


Nicky Morgan

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TSB boss ‘could be grilled’ over shutdown

What followed was a long stream of people saying that they still couldn’t access the app, couldn’t see their money, couldn’t pay their staff and had, in 101 ways, their lives disrupted. While the technology might have been working, it couldn’t cope with all the people who were trying to log on, having been denied access for days.

And that is the trouble that our banks face now. They have funnelled us towards technology for the past decade, encouraging the use of banking websites and now mobile phone apps.

At RBS, for instance, a remarkable 600,000 customers are logging into their accounts at 8am every Monday and Friday morning. Many of us have become reliant on online banking and, as banks have encouraged all that, so they have reduced our access to more traditional facilities.

So while huge sums have been spent on websites, apps and social media, there has been a cull in bank branches since the financial crisis.

Over the past decade, the country’s biggest banks have closed more than a third of their branches, with plans to close a lot more in the coming years. They consistently tell us that there is falling demand for their services – that some branches regularly have days when fewer than 10 people come through the doors.

But that does beg two questions.

Firstly, what is the social duty that banks have to look after vulnerable customers – maybe elderly or wary of technology – who don’t want to use an app? What about shopkeepers who need somewhere to deposit their cash but don’t want to join a huge queue at the Post Office? Even if banks can’t make money out of all their branches, don’t they need to accept a few losses, cut some executive bonuses and look after their tech-wary account-holders?

But secondly – what happens when things go wrong? Ulster Bank and TSB have both had profound problems recently, caused by technical failures. Yes, an app offers a very high level of security, but it’s also flawed. Some of the computer code used within these technical platforms is decades old. It’s archaic, which is precisely why TSB was so keen to upgrade its system.

Nobody is suggesting that banks wind back the clock to a previous era. In fact, long-term, TSB may conclude that the short-term pain, embarrassment and cost of compensation was all worth it if it ends up with a better, more robust system.

But, as with engineering, or pharmaceuticals or almost any other business, banking needs a regular sense check to determine if technology appropriate is tested, necessary, and proven. Is there a Plan B for when it goes wrong, or an alternative for the wary?

For all British banks, the travails of TSB is a warning that technology is brilliant – but also that it needs to be used with care.

Former UBS Trader Is Cleared in ‘Spoofing’ Case


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A former trader for the Swiss bank UBS, Andre Flotron, was prosecuted on charges related to market manipulation and a practice called “spoofing,” which the Justice Department has been trying to rein in.

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Michele Limina/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A federal jury on Wednesday acquitted a former trader for the Swiss bank UBS of charges related to market manipulation, dealing a blow to a Justice Department effort to crack down on a Wall Street practice known as “spoofing.”

Prosecutors accused the former trader, Andre Flotron, of trying to move market prices for precious metals by making offers on electronic trading systems to buy or sell gold, silver and other financial products and then quickly deleting those offers before anyone could accept them.

But after only a few hours of deliberation, a jury in United States District Court in the District of Connecticut rejected their theory, according to Mr. Flotron’s lawyer Marc L. Mukasey.

Mr. Flotron’s acquittal could spell trouble for similar cases brought by the United States government. In January, federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against seven other people for spoofing, among the first criminal charges brought for suspected financial crimes during the Trump administration. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission simultaneously brought civil cases against a number of the former traders, including Mr. Flotron. The traders’ behavior, a Justice Department official said at the time, reflected “a systemic problem.”

The Connecticut jury decided otherwise.

“It’s a huge setback for the government,” Mr. Mukasey said. “We basically smacked them in the face.”

Mr. Mukasey said he planned to ask the trading commission to dismiss its civil case against Mr. Flotron.

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Macron urges US: 'Don't close door to the world'


French President Emmanuel Macron has called on America to reject policies of isolationism if values of democracy and freedom are to be saved. 

Speaking to Congress on Wednesday, Mr Macron used words of flattery and friendship to cushion his insistence that the US should dump Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda.

Beginning and ending with the lasting historic friendship enjoyed between France and America, Mr Macron recalled how the US and France have fought “shoulder to shoulder in many battles” over the years.

He said the two countries have a shared common vision of the “universal ideals of liberty, tolerance and equal rights” for centuries.

However, the bulk of Mr Macron’s speech pushed against the US President’s messages of isolationism and nationalism.

He called on the US not to “close the door to the world”.


French President Emmanuel Macron acknowledges applause after addressing a joint meeting of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., April 25, 2018. REUTERS/Aaron Bernstein

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Macron urges America to work with its allies

The French President acknowledged that Americans and Europeans are “living in a time of anger and fear” under global threats, but warned that choosing “isolationism, withdrawal and nationalism” is only a temporary option.

Instead, Mr Macron urged America to re-embrace multilateralism and said that Europe and the US must face global challenges together.

He reflected that US and French values are what “terrorists hate”.

Mr Macron, whose country has faced a number of terror attacks in the past five years, said the violence in both countries has been “an incredible price to pay for freedom, for democracy”.

Slowing the pace of his words for emphasis, he told Congress that the US must play a key role in safeguarding the free world.

The French president greets students after his address to Congress
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The French president greets students after his address to Congress

Mr Macron said: “The United States is the one who invented this multilateralism. You are the one now who has to help preserve and reinvent it.”

In his speech, he defended the recent strikes on Syria following evidence that President Bashar al Assad used chemical weapons. He stated that the joint action was an example of what he believes was effective multilateralism in action.

Mr Macron also touched on the fight to prevent Iran from developing nuclear powers, saying he is determined to ensure this does not happen.

The statesman went on to warn that the Iran nuclear deal should not be abandoned without having something more substantial instead – with Mr Trump threatening to ditch the agreement in May.

Mr Trump has pushed an “America first” agenda on key global agreements, jobs, the military and immigration policy. Last year he dramatically pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Accord.


U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and French President Emmanuel Macron walk down the colonnade at the White House following the official arrival ceremony for Macron on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 24, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Video:
‘I like him a lot’: The blossoming bromance

Mr Macron told Congress he was confident the US will rejoin the climate agreement in the future.

His said: “Let us work together in order to make our planet great again and create new jobs and new opportunities while safeguarding our Earth.”

The President warned that if climate change and global warming continues, “there is no Planet B”.

Mr Macron’s speech, which was punctuated by repeated standing ovations and loud applause, was the first time a president from France has addressed Congress in more than a decade.

May laughs at Corbyn's resignation demand


Jeremy Corbyn has repeated calls for Amber Rudd to resign over the Windrush scandal, saying she “hardened” a “cruel and misdirected” policy.

He accused the Home Secretary of inheriting a “failing” plan from her predecessor, Theresa May, and “making it worse”.

The clash came at Prime Minister’s Questions, where Mrs May gave a staunch defence of her work on immigration over the last seven years.

Mr Corbyn repeated Ms Rudd’s apology from last week back to the Commons on Wednesday, reminding MPs she had said the Home Office “sometimes loses sight of the individual”.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd
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Home Secretary Amber Rudd

The Labour leader said: “We now know that when she took over from her predecessor, her intent was to harden this cruel and misdirected policy, pledging to do so ruthlessly.

“A report last month by immigration officials stated the hostile environment measures were not even having the desired effect.

“The current Home Secretary inherited a failing policy and made it worse.

“Isn’t it time she took responsibility and resigned?”

A visibly irritated Ms Rudd heckled Mr Corbyn as he attacked her.

Mrs May responded by laughing at the seeming confusion about who was being called on to step down.

Theresa May
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Theresa May

After uproar from MPs, she said that people “up and down this country” want action taken against illegal immigrants.

The Prime Minister told the House: “It isn’t fair that people who work hard day in and day out who contribute to this country, who put into the life of this country, are seeing people who are here illegally accessing services in the same way.

“We are acting to ensure that those people who are here legally are given the support that they need.

“We welcomed the Windrush generation many years ago. They are British – they are part of us, and we are ensuring that they remain here and are able to continue to live their lives here.”

The showdown comes after the Foreign Secretary reportedly called for an amnesty on illegal immigrants who have been in Britain for more than 10 years.

Boris Johnson presented the idea at Cabinet on Tuesday for those who are “squeaky clean” and do not have criminal records, according to The Telegraph.

Ms Rudd will face questions from the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee later on Wednesday.

In advance, the committee published a letter from Ms Rudd that it said did “not provide a full response” to 23 questions on the Windrush scandal.

Pursuits: The Whisky Chronicles


Morton is a burly chap whose arms are covered with conversation-starting Scottish pride tattoos — a Celtic knot, Gaelic dragons. We chatted amid the echo-y mechanical hiss of the still house, which has a soaring ceiling and four squat yet grand copper stills. They aren’t polished to a shine like the stills everywhere else, giving the space an antique ambience.

He started at Bunnahabhain in 1978, when the 36 distillery workers all lived in the quaint, chimneyed houses clustered around the distillery. Today, only one of the houses is occupied and there are plans to raze many of them and renovate the rest as the distillery launches a refurbishment project over the next three years.

Morton spends much of his day at a computer screen, which, he’s quick to point out, only monitors the stills’ activity, not controls it. So to heat the stills, he walks over to the steam wheel and cranks it. Nonetheless, that monitor does make things a little easier: When he started, he had to measure the flow rate of the spirit with a wood stick. Now he reads the measurements from the glowing screen.

BOWMORE

As far as Scottish island distilleries go, Bowmore is practically urban. Built in 1779 in Islay’s capital village of the same name, it’s a collection of whitewashed buildings on four seaside acres, just off the main thoroughfare, which is lined with a bustling grocery, a hardware store, gift shops and a bank.

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Highland cattle, majestic and imposing, roam freely on the Isle of Islay.

Credit
Andy Haslam for The New York Times

In the cement-floored malt barn, a single beam of light streaming through a small window gave the large, stark room the luminosity of a Vermeer painting. A man was pulling a rake-like instrument across a barley-strewn floor, making furrows so air could circulate through the germinating grains. Bowmore is one of the few distilleries in Scotland to use the old-fashioned floor-malting method. Today this part of the malting process is typically done in industrial-size drums at giant plants.

Heather, my genial guide who wore stylish glasses and her hair in a loose pony tail, scooped up a fistful of barley and instructed me to crush a single soft sprouted granule between my fingers — the “maltster’s rub.” It was silky and chalky, moist enough to absorb the peat smoke that ultimately gives whisky its characteristic flavor.

“That’ll be going into the kiln at six tonight,” she said, leading me to a steel door at the top of a few metal-grate steps. She removed a sturdy lock and unleashed a blast of heat and plume of smoke. Phenolic, savory aromas knocked me like a right hook. She motioned me into the haze. I sank into a knee-high bed of 21 tons of malted barley in the tennis-court-length kiln, where grain sits for 60 hours, absorbing smoky, savory essences from a peat-fueled fire burning underneath.

She suggested I lie down and make a “grain angel,” as one would do in fresh snow. I imagined Barnard would have let his stiff upper lip get in the way of such tomfoolery, so I laid down in the pillowy, fragrant barley and dedicated my angel to his guiding spirit.

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Giant curved rakes mix grain and boiling water in Bruichladdich distillery’s Victorian-era mash tun.

Credit
Andy Haslam for The New York Times

After wandering through the still house and the cold, dark warehouse known as the No. 1 Vaults, which has been used to age whisky since Bowmore was founded in 1779, making it reportedly one of the oldest maturing warehouses in the world, my friend and I kicked back in the modern but cozy tasting room, which has expansive floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the sea. I sipped the 12-year-old single malt, the youngest sample in the tasting flight of four — a softly peated drink that smelled of sea spray and grain.

During Barnard’s visit here, he wrote, “The Distillers say the proximity to the sea favours the various processes of malting, brewing and distilling.” As I watched the mist fly off the swirling “white horses,” local parlance for the waves of the cobalt Atlantic as they crest and slam against the shore, I appreciated one of Islay’s whiskies’ most crucial ingredients: the local air.

ARDBEG

As we approached Ardbeg, a cluster of buildings with pagoda roofs that appears like an oasis of civilization amid expanses of green hills, Barnard’s description rang clear: “a lonely spot on the very verge of the sea, and its isolation tends to heighten the romantic sense of its position.”

We walked across a courtyard to the visitors’ center, located in a high-ceilinged former malt barn, one of the original buildings. Barley was delivered here when the distillery opened in 1815. It’s been retrofitted with a bustling airy eatery and book-lined gift shop. At the stone-floored restaurant, the Old Kiln Café, locals can be found amid tourists, socializing over fish pies, plates of smoked salmon or scones and cappuccinos.

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Visitors on a tour of Lagavulin Distillery are shown the still house.

Credit
Andy Haslam for The New York Times

We were greeted by the distillery manager, Michael Heads, a casual avuncular fellow with white hair who introduced himself as Mickey. He brought us to a neighboring building and led us through a long, sepia-hued chamber with deep empty wood vessels on either side of a narrow planked floor. The smell of peat from barley stored here in Victorian times still lingered in the air. An echo resounded when my pen dropped to the floor. There was an ethereal, old-world aura to the space.

After being led through a few more equipment rooms, we emerged into a sunlit room with a pitched churchlike ceiling. In front of us were six huge washbacks, vessels in which yeast feasts on sugary solution, generating bubbly activity on the golden liquid surface as it turns starch into alcohol.

Through a small window, far past those low cresting “white horses,” I could make out Northern Ireland’s hills of Antrim. Long before trucks existed, the narrow pier right outside was the primary access to the rest of the world: Barley and yeast came off boats, whisky was sent out. It was easy to envision the ships in gridlock on the now bare waters.

BRUICHLADDICH

This distillery’s whitewashed buildings with turquoise-framed windows surround a small courtyard with an entrance just off the main road that runs along the shoreline. Observing the scene from the mash house, Barnard described it as “one of the finest and most healthy spots on the island.”

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