Whilst many of you will be looking through catalogues, browsing gifts on-line or making expensive trips to the mainland shops in the search for Christmas presents this festive season, donâ€™t forget to keep some of your hard earned cash on Islay this year and buy some of your gifts locally. There are many local craft producers on Islay working hard to produce fine quality products in a tough economical climate.
The â€˜Made on Islayâ€™ art and craft group are no exception; attendance has been buoyant during the summer markets and we hope that the local Christmas trade will be equally inspiring. There are a wide range of products from various local producers available from original art work and prints; photographic prints of Islayâ€™s landscape, cards and calendars (Solus is Sith); gemstone jewellery (â€˜She Who Dares Wearsâ€™); books on wildlife, cookery and childrenâ€™s stories; beautifully presented pressed flower and seaweed pictures, cross stitch pictures and kits to try yourself (Anne Heads); for the young wildlife enthusiast a range of wildlife discovery packs and wildlife mats which can be personalised for that individual touch (Green Bug Productions); attractive greetings cards (Popinjay Cards). Many members will be happy to bespoke or create a gift to suit you. At the Port Ellen markets St. Johnâ€™s catering will be running a tearoom with fabulous soups, sandwiches and home baking so come for lunch too. There is a craft market on Thursday the 2nd of December in Port Ellen (Columba Hall - 11am to 4pm) and the 11th of December in the village hall in Bowmore, also from 11am to 4pm. For more information check out www.madeonislay.co.uk. Besides the Made on Islay group you can find a lot of other (online) Islay shops with very nice gifts for your loved ones too. Continue reading.....
Let's start with Ailsa's Spirited Soaps shop in Bowmore. In her online shop you can find a wide range of whisky soaps, special gift packs, creams, scenting candels, balms and other bathing and personal care products. You can visit her online shop at www.spiritedsoaps.com.
For those of you with a sweet tooth here is an ideal Christmas present. Check out Jane Mitchells An Glean Islay Tablet Shop for Islay whisky tablets flavoured with whisky from the island's distilleries as well as Jura's distillery. Jane created several Christmas specials and recently opened a new outlet in her own home between Port Charlotte and Portnahaven. Check out the all new An Gleann Islay Tablet Online Shop and website.
The Islay Quilters, as the name already says, manufacture and sell wonderful quality quilts. Their website is loaded with great examples of their fine hand-crafted quilts and other related products. For another type of fabric, tartan from Islay, have a look at the Islay Woollen Mill website which has an online shop with some very nice items such as find first class tartans, blankets, rugs and other products. Elizabeth Sykes has an extensive collection of Batiks for sale online with prints in several categories: Islay Distilleries, Scottish National Trust properties, flowers, (islay) landscapes and birds and flowers.
I wrote about them a week ago, C&E Roy, The Celtic House, sells various Islay products online. The product range varies from books, glasswork, jewellery, t-shirts and prints. Mark Unsworth from Islay Studios Photography sells his beautiful pictures online. All prints are available mounted and framed. The 2010 Ileach calendar is also for sale with a great selection of beautiful Islay Pictures. Visit www.ileach.co.uk for more information or send an email to email@example.com to order direct.
Now what would Christmas be without a special Islay Malt whisky? Have a look at Bruichladdich's Laddie Shop and you will find some very special whiskies. And on top of all that you can buy the one and only "The Bothanist - Islay Dry Gin" in a limited 15,000 bottles first edition, available early December.
Ardbeg has a great online shop as well with, you guessed it, malt whiskies and other goodies such as scarves, caps, fleeces and a great cycling shirt. But don't forget the nectar section, here you find the award winners! Start shopping at www.ardbeg.com
Same story at Bowmore, a wide range of superb whiskies, historic bottlings and special editions. And if whisky isn't your thing check out the accessoires section at the Bowmore online shop, everything from umbrella's, golf balls, clothing, glasses and water jugs. Don't hesitate and visit www.bowmore.co.uk. And what to think of Kilchoman, Islay's latest distillery? No different news here either. New spirit for sale online as well as branded gifts, clothing, tweeds and glassware. Have a look at eshop.kilchomandistillery.com.
Over to Laphroaig, another great online shop with fine whiskies. What to think of a 30 year old Cairdeas which is their special 'farewell' to this multi gold award winning Laphroaig expression. Uniquely matured for a second time this final bottling is 'the best of the best'. It will never appear in any shops and it's here for sale! Or what about Laphroaig 18 Year Old, the newest addition to the range. A well balanced, full bodied expression offering a long, sweet and intense finish. New is a heavy duty fleece lined jacket made with Hydrafort water and wind-proof fabric. All this can be found at www.laphroaig.com
Bunnahabhain has online shopping facilities as well and besides their excellent malts they sell a lot of other goodies as well, including a nice compass and a telescope to find your way home. That's for when you have tasted a bit too much of their fine whisky! And to stay warm they sell a really nice fleece too. Check them out at www.bunnahabhain.com If whisky is not your thing why not try Islay Ales from the local brewery as a special Christmas treat.
The Islayinfo bookshop offers a fine collection of Islay books and maps to get prepared for your visit to Islay next year, or just to learn more about the Queen of the Hebrides and it's interesting and rich history. Did I forget anything? Most likely and if I did I apologise to those I haven't mentioned here. This is quite an extensive list which offers something for everyone. I wish you all "Happy Islay Shopping" and don't forget: Think Christmas - Think Islay