Desert Island Drams -Johanne McInnis – The Whisky Lassie

This weeks Desert Island Dram is something different.

I was almost going to entitle this weeks article “Excuse me, exactly who is interviewing who here?”

I got in touch with Johanne McInnis via Twitter and asked her if she would like to be featured in my Desert Island Drams series. The journalist in her came out right away as she began to interview me regarding my blog, my motivations and my intentions.


After a while the banter was flowing as we talked about whisky and got quite deep into a conversation regarding pairing drams and superheros, but that will be another article on another day…

I’ve always given free reign to all my guests to write whatever and however they like. I must say I never saw this coming…

Johanne is a freelance writer for various publications, she describes herself as “serious and passionate about all things whisky”.

She also has quite an imagination so pour yourself a large dram, find a comfortable chair and sit back.



‘My husband is calling my name. I can hear him mumbling something about closing our bedroom window because the seagulls are too loud. I open my eyes to the darkness. He is not lying beside me, nor am I in our bed. It’s cold, I’m wet and I feel excruciating pain shoot down my right arm. Where the fuck am I? I try to sit and fail but I don’t care because none of this makes sense and I think if I go back to sleep I’ll wake up from this dream.

Hours later… This isn’t a dream I say to myself out loud. I realize all too painfully that my right shoulder is dislocated. I manage to roll over and plant my shoulder against a large rock. POP… and instant relief. I take stock of the rest of me. My shoes are nowhere to be seen but otherwise I seem to be ok. I try and stand but fail. The legs are wobbly but eventually I manage to lean against a tree and get my first real look around. Desolate… nothing but beach, sand, seagulls and miles of water with nothing on the horizon that I can see with my naked eyes. I slump back down the tree and spend the next few hours trying to figure out how I ended up here. I decide to walk back down to the water’s edge and turn left. Beyond the point I see my boat and that’s when it all comes flooding back… I was sailing. I was sailing alone near the British Virgin Islands when a storm hit. My rudder broke and I called Mayday. I gave my coordinates and turned my EPIRB on. And then…. Nothing. I couldn’t remember what happened next.

She was on her side and looked really beat up. I hoisted myself up scaling her like she was a rock cliff, holding on to ropes or anything else I could grasp. She had a huge gaping hole on the starboard side. Had I sank or had she simply been beaten to the point of destruction against the rocks? I looked down into the mess below. Water jugs were intact and full. I had never been so thankful to take my husband’s advice as I watched bags and bags of freeze dried foods floating about. I cried tears of utter joy and relief as I quickly calculated I had enough food and water for at least a week. Surely, someone would find me by then. I climbed down into the cabin and started stuffing everything I could carry in my sleeping bag. After 3 trips to shore I felt confident that I had everything I needed to try and stay sheltered, warm, fed and watered. One more trip to the boat to try the radio and find my flares… Nada. Radio dead, flares gone. I looked around once more trying to think of anything else I might need for the night and that’s when I spot it. The cabinet that held all my whisky was shattered and is void of the 20 bottles I had on board. For a split second I am saddened but then realize this is the least of my worries. I don’t NEED whisky to survive this experience and the bottles that were destroyed can someday be replaced. Well, that’s if someone finds you, I hear myself saying in head. And so begins the dialogue of being realistic, human but scared. My head lamp floats by me and I can see my IPhone is still in the cubby. I lunge for both, almost praying they both still function. The lamp is dead but somehow the phone survived. Several hours later I have a makeshift shelter with a tarp, my hammock and a small fire going. I eat half a ration of oatmeal and drink 4oz of water. I’ve planned out exactly two weeks of food/water just in case my radio beacon call didn’t work. I lay in my hammock with my sleeping bag. The overwhelming silence gets to me. I cry because I’m scared and I cry even more thinking my family either has no idea that I’m lost or worse, they may think I’m dead. I awaken to a distant thunderstorm and quickly react by ensuring everything I need stays put and dry. I weigh down the tarp with rocks and hoist my hammock as high as I can to stay out of the wind/rain. It’s a long night and the sounds of wind and thunder rattle me to the bone but I survive.

It’s now been 3 days. I know because I turned on my phone and it’s November 7th. My 50th birthday is four days away. I still don’t know what happened and I have no idea where I am. I spend my days trying to stay cool and my nights trying to stay warm and dry. I have not ventured far for fear that I get lost or worse that they don’t find me. They… who are these “they” I keep talking about. I’d be happy if anyone found me at this point. Anyone…

Happy Birthday to me! I keep going through a flood of emotions. From thankful to being alive to scared shitless that this is where I might die. I decide I need a walk but go beyond the boat this time. The sun is high and water glistens like diamonds. Daily routine: walk, look out over the water, and pray for a sign of life other than my own. Further ahead I spot something on the sand… as I reach it I realize it’s a whisky bottle. The label is gone but it’s intact and the seal isn’t broken. I glance around and start looking for others but find nothing.

Once back at my camp, I stare at the bottle and try to remember what I had packed. This is a bottle that wasn’t yet opened. The liquid is dark, almost mahogany in colour. I mentally go backwards in time to the day I chose my bottles for the trip. This is… this bottle is…. Fuck! I can’t remember. Do I dare open it? It’s my birthday after all. I should… I do. I grab my tin coffee cup and sit on the makeshift chair I have made from stones and a pillow. I slowly tear away the seal and ease the cork out. It’s the loveliestsound I’ve heard in days. Carefully I pour myself a small dram. With my hands almost shaking, I bring the cup to my lips and let the warm, slippery and rich whisky fill my mouth. My eyes fill with tears and I find myself almost choking back the urge to sob.

The moment envelopes me and time stands still. I think this is the closest to heaven I may ever come as the warmth of the dram hits my belly and I think of one of my favourite songs… Edith Piaf, Non, je ne regrette rien. I pour myself half of the tin cup and I sing it at the top of lungs through the tears and torrent of emotions I am feeling. Albeit not the way I had hoped to celebrate my 50th birthday, this moment in time is near perfection. The sun is setting over what most would consider an island paradise and the desert dram that so many talk about has become a reality for me as I lay here in my hammock clutching a tin cup full of a mystery whisky.

I awake the next morning to a strange sound and as my feet catch up to my brain, I hear myself screaming “that is a helicopter, move stupid move!!!” I am stumbling toward the pile of brush that I have amassed near my camp. I pour the diesel fuel and throw three lit matches as I launch myself backwards. I wait and watch as the helicopter sees the smoke and circles around. My heart is so full I think it’s about to explode in my chest.

I have been found….

My desert island dram will forever be a mystery because the reality is, it’s not really about the label… it’s about the moment.’

Read more Desert Island Dram Articles here.

You can find tasting notes and whisky news in the Amateur Drammers Archives.

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