Islay has a new festival to add to the growing number of annual events and this one has a focus on local produce in the widest sense of the word. The Taste Islay and Jura Festival is all about Food, Drink and Foraging. Both islands together have ten whisky distilleries and three gin distilleries. There is Islay Wines and Islay Ales and there is great food from the sea and land such as oysters, lobster, crab and fish and lamb, beef, venison and plenty of foraged foods too.
Taste Islay and Jura Weekend
The Taste Islay and Jura Festival will be held from Friday 20th – Sunday 22nd September 2019 and is organised by the local marketing group. There are many fantastic events taking place during this weekend so make sure to visit Islay and Jura and join the fun. Below is an overview of everything taking place but please note that some of these events have to be booked in advance. For bookings visit the new festival website
Friday 20th September
On Friday head over to Jura and Lussa Gin for a special Taste of Lussa Tour. A special 1 hour session discovering how the three women of Lussa create their gin, enjoy it paired with locally sourced venison and shellfish, all with a juniper influence. Read more.....
If you are feeling more energetic head to the Machrie Hotel on Islay where Kayak Wild Islay are offering an unforgettable Fat Biking Experience along the Big Strand, stopping for a wild kelly kettle brew with Argyll Coffee Roasters coffee enroute. After a bike on the beach, head back to the Machrie Hotel to enjoy some exquisite local food.
Into Friday evening and it’s over to Islay House in collaboration with The Botanist Gin for a Taste of Wild Islay. Enjoy a 5 course taster menu with gin cocktails before enjoying the Scottish Premier of The Botanist’s Wild – A State of Mind Mini Film Series.
Saturday 21st September
Saturday is Market Day. Taste Islay & Jura is bringing a traditional market with a twist to Islay. Located in Bowmore Square and The Harbour Inn 10am – 4pm, this local market will bring together food and drink producers from Islay, Jura and wider Argyll. In the square, shoppers can buy local meats, vegetables, herbs, cheeses, preserves, coffee, seafood, pre-cooked foods and meals as well as enjoy some fantastic lunch offerings. We are really excited to welcome Colin Hinds, Patron Chef of The Kilted Lobster in Edinburgh to our festival. Colin will be cooking up a storm with a sumptuous Lobster Barbecue during the market.
Head to the Harbour Inn to find a host of beverage delights. With 3 gins, whisky, wine, ale, rum and cocktails all under one roof this really will be something to enjoy. Drams, tastings, pairings and demonstrations will be running from 11am. Find out how to prepare syrups from foraged plants with The Botanist Gin and get a lesson in cocktail making with the Harbour Inn team.
The marketing group is hugely excited to welcome writer, broadcaster and food anthropologist Ghillie Basan to the festival. Ghillie will be creating paired canapes to enjoy on the day utilising the wonderful food and drinks offering we have on Islay & Jura. Expect to tantalise those taste buds with oysters, scallops and lobsters, venison, lamb and beef, smoked, preserved and roasted produce – a treat awaits all those that visit. During the day Ghillie will be talking about her new book, Spirit and Spice come along and enjoy a dram or two.
Fancy getting hands on and creating something special? Book onto a two hour Chocolate Making Session at Islay High School on Saturday with chocolatier and tutor Chris Wolfe. Learn about chocolate, its history and make your own truffles to take home at the end of the day.
Saturday night and its over to The Port Charlotte Hotel in partnership with food and whisky connoisseur Martine Nouet. Martine will host a Whisky Tasting Dinner with each local produce course paired with Islay & Jura Whiskies.
Sunday 22nd September
Sunday isn’t a day of rest with lots more on offer to keep everyone entertained and fed! Islay Sea Adventures are offering a special Islay seafood tour. A unique chance to enjoy the scenery and wildlife from the sea whilst sampling some of the best local produce available. Hand dived scallops will be the star of the show and guests will have the opportunity to try and catch a fish for the onboard barbecue.
For those wishing to remain on dry land but still enjoy a taste of the sea, head over to the Islay Nature Centre at Port Charlotte and enjoy a Celebration of Seaweed. Visitors can learn about the different seaweeds that can be found around the coastline of Islay and Jura, discover tips and advice on how to forage for seaweed safely and sustainably. A session will run from 11- 12 where the team will prepare and cook seaweeds giving visitors the chance to taste some and inspire experimentation at home.
Keeping on the theme of foraging The Botanist Gin’s professional forager, James Donaldson is leading an unforgettable walk through Bridgend woods. James will be pointing out some wild edibles on our doorstep, including the ones to avoid, culminating in a Botanist and tonic with your own foraged garnish.
If its family fun you are looking for Port Ellen Playing Fields is the place to be. With Star Baker and sandcastle building competitions, a local produce barbecue and mocktails for all, this 12 – 4pm event promises something for everyone.
During the festival weekend
Across the three days of the Festival Bowmore Distillery are offering a special Tour at 2.30pm with specially selected drams paired with exquisite chocolates from The Oban Chocolate Company. Laphroaig too are putting on a special daily tour for Taste Islay & Jura, book onto the 2.30pm Laphroaig Food Pairing Tasting Tour and enjoy some fantastic locally sourced appetizers created by local chefs paired with four Laphroaig drams.
Several restaurants are offering special menu's during the taste festival weekend. Check out their websites for more information.