Following is a short overview of Islay news published in the Ileach Newspaper and from various other sources.
Celtic Connections: John MacLellan, manager of Bunnahabhain Distillery is pictured conducting a tasting at the City Halls in Glasgow during the Celtic Connections music festival. Burn Stewart Distillers Ltd own both Bunnahabhain and Black Bottle, the Islay based scotch which is now the official blended whisky of the festival. John treated his capacity audience to a whisky Masterclass while they enjoyed three expressions of Bunnahabhain in addition to sampling the blend. For Ileachs, Celtic Connections is as much about the city of Glasgow as it is about music. It is an annual opportunity to dig into the city's shops, restaurants and cinemas while enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of urban life as endured by the great unwashed. The festival itself has grown into a three week institution that attracts megastars from around the world - this year?s acts included Rolling Stone Bill Wyman, American country rock legend Steve Earle and the African star Baaba Maal.
Weather: In the first week of February Islay had a white cover and as a result many more pictures with snowy scenes were sent to me. The Media Gallery now contains 28 snow(ish) images of Islay. The down side to this snow, or slush, was that the members of the Velo Club d'Ardbeg weren't able to do a training session on Saturday due to the bizarre gritting policy of Argyll and Bute Council. Not long after the snow disappeared the sun came out and presented Islay very sunny days with beautiful sunsets as a result. One of these lovely sunset pictures can be seen in yesterday's nature report by Jeremy Hastings.
Gaelic: Ionad Chaluim Chille Ì¬e is building on the ideas which emerged from the stimulating meeting on the benefits of bilingualism. The Irish connection is being strengthened, and the questions raised regarding support for Islay?s Gaelic Medium Education provision are being explored. In the meanwhile the BBC Trust has given its go-ahead for BBC Scotland and Gaelic Media Service (GMS) to launch their planned Gaelic Digital Service (GDS) although it will initially only be available on cable, satellite and broadband services. Les Wilson of the independent production house Caledonia TV told the Ileach: ?It is important that this is seen as a channel for all of Scotland, not just Gaelic speakers and learners. It should be a channel for everyone with an interest in our Highlands and Islands, hill walkers, fishermen, nature lovers - indeed everyone who has a Highland granny?. Continue reading.....Euan Paterson: Oban Times reporter Euan Paterson, who lived on Islay as a wee boy, has won the Young Journalist of the Year title in this year?s Highlands and Islands Media Awards. Euan told the Ileach ?I remember my time on Islay with great fondness and I like to get back to catch up with old friends. It?s nice to tell people you lived on Islay because it?s one of these places everyone loves.
Minke Whale: Port Ellen Coastguard Harold Hastie is pictured with a Minke whale which washed up dead on the Ard two weeks ago. It is not known what caused the demise of the 20 foot cetacean which was driven high up on the rocks by the force of the winter storms.
Bruichladdich Pier: The ?3,000,000 extension to Bruichladdich built by Argyll and Bute Council for Shell to facilitate the landing of oil for the distilleries has been hampered by a series of problems. As previously reported in the Ileach, it has only recently been discovered that the depth at the pier is inadequate and explosives will have to be used to clear bedrock. The Ileach understands that there is now a delay due to the requirement to issue a license to use such explosives.
Classic Malt Cruise: BYM announced on their website that entries are now being accepted for the annual Classic Malts Cruise ? a unique two week sailing voyage along the spectacular coastline of north-west Scotland in July. The UK?s biggest non-competitive sailing event, the annual Classic Malts Cruise is sponsored by Diageo?s Classic Malts Selection. The classic Malt Cruise will also visit Islay and several of the island's distilleries.
Blogs: Becky Williamson finished another stage of her Islay Roundtrip, Jeremy Hastings writes passionately about Islay Birding on his Islay Birding News Blog and Armin shows pictures of the Islay Hotel floor and posted his 23rd blogging roundup yesterday evening.
Happy Spring Tablets: Jane Mitchell of An Gleann Cottage Produce in Port Charlotte sells special seasonal tablets in her recently opened online shop which are very nice gifts for Mothers Day and Easter, early March.