Islay currently has eight whisky distilleries but that number is soon going up to 10 or perhaps even 11 or 12. The eight whisky distilleries on Islay are Ardbeg, Bowmore, Bunnahabhain, Bruichladdich, Caol Ila, Kilchoman, Lagavulin and Laphroaig. This year the construction will start of Ardnahoe Distillery north of Port Askaig and Gartbreck south of Bowmore. That brings the number up to ten. And if the plans for Farkin at Port Ellen materialise and Port Charlotte distillery will be built there will be twelve distilleries on the island and the one on Jura of course. But how can these ten or twelve distilleries have their own open day during a one week whisky festival? I'm sure none of them would like to "share a day" with another distillery as that will result in lower visitor numbers. If you think about if for a minute you can only come to the conclusion that a future Islay Festival should last two weeks.
Originally the festival lasted two weeks although it was a different kind of festival back then as you can read on the festival website: "The early days of the Festival were very exciting with Communities competing for the Best Dressed Village to the culminating Carnival Day. Decorated floats, stalls and entertainment. Two weeks were filled with music, drama, workshops, talks, walks, Ceilidhs, Concerts and Dances in the evening. There was even a Carnival Queen from each Parish Kildalton, Kilarrow and Kilmeny & the Rhinns. Capercaillie, Run Rig, Aly Bain & Phil Cunninghame, Wallochmore, Dougie McLean, Sileas have all been to Islay." Much has happened since then and the focus of the festival gradually shifted from music to whisky. Continue reading...
Having a two week Islay Festival would have many benefits as more people can participate. It would put less pressure on accommodations, restaurants, ferries and other resources. I believe that it could also become a more relaxed festival as right now everything is cramped into one week so it's extremely busy on the island. Another advantage would be I guess that no activities/open days would have to be planned on Saturdays as that are usually changeover days. There is also a disadvantage. People who would come to Islay and like to visit all the distilleries in the festival week they would have to stay two weeks to visit them all or miss out on a few.
The programme for a two week Islay Festival could be as follows:
Sunday Laddie Day, Monday Ardnahoe, Tuesday Kilchoman, Wednesday Lagavulin, Thursday Jura and Port Ellen Maltings, Friday Bunnahabhain
Sunday Ardbeg Day, Monday Caol Ila, Wednesday Bowmore, Thursday Gartbreck, Friday Laphroaig
What do you think? Should the festival last two weeks or not? Please join our poll and thanks for voting.