In one week the Islay Festival will start, on Friday the 24th of May to be precise, and it's going to be another fabulous Feis Ile week! Tourism is booming and many folk on Islay are busy with the preparations before the Calmac ferries will bring thousands of visitors to the island who will join, and hopefully enjoy, the many events and open days. Fingers crossed for great weather!! The Islay Festival Committee has been extremely busy and have organised a fabulous week with many events such as the first fling, final fling, tastings etc. Check out this link for the full programme. Unfortunately most of them are fully booked but there are still tickets available for some of the events so make sure to book now here and check further below for an overview.
The distilleries on Islay all have their open days and also offer many other tours and tastings throughout the week. New this year is of course Ardnahoe Distillery, Islay's ninth, and therefore the distillery open day programme has been slightly altered:
The Islay Festival 2019 Distillery Programme
Islay House Hotel and Port Ellen Maltings will kick off the festival on Friday the 24th. Islay House Hotel, together with the Scottish Malt Whisky Society, will offer music, games, bbq and tastings, see programme. Port Ellen Maltings will give tours starting at 11am till 2pm. A unique opportunity to watch the maltings in action. For more info and to book visit check out the Lagavulin Programme for more info. Read more...
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You probably wonder what the Mount Everest has to do with our Islay Blog? The Islay High School is raising funds for their India Project and what better way is there than to invite legendary mountaineer Doug Scott to Islay to give a talk about mountaineering and his personal experience as a lead climber which led him to the summit of Mount Everest in 1975.
Doug and Dougal Haston became the first Britons to reach the summit of Everest as lead climbers on Chris Bonington’s epic expedition to the mountain’s south-west face. As darkness fell they scraped a small cave in the snow 100 metres below the summit and survived the highest bivouac ever – without bottled oxygen, sleeping bags and, as it turned out, frostbite. For Doug Scott, it was the fulfilment of a fortune-teller’s prophesy given to his mother: that her eldest son would be in danger in a high place with the whole world watching. Scott and Haston returned home national heroes with their image splashed across the front pages. Scott went on to become one of Britain’s greatest ever mountaineers, pioneering new climbs in the remotest corners of the globe. Read more....
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A good tip when you're on Islay between May and October is to visit the Made on Islay & Jura Art & Craft Market. It's an opportunity to get to know some of the local artists and craftspeople, to find out what it's like to live and work on Islay and at the same time buy locally made items for yourself or as a gift for the people back home.
Islay & Jura Art and Craft Market in Bruichladdich Hall
There is a good variety of locally produced items from original paintings and high quality prints to photos, books, jewelry and quilting, which aren't for sale somewhere else on the island. If you can't find what you're looking for there's a good chance one of the artists can make it for you. All the more reason to pay them a visit at the Bruichladdich Hall.
The craft markets take place throughout the tourist season on Tuesdays and Thursdays, May to October, between 10:30 and 16:30. You can find these and other events listed in our Islay Events Calendar.
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The new Islay and Jura Distillery Tour Times Leaflet for 2019 has been published and is now available as download on the Islay Blog and for viewing online from all the Distillery Pages on Islay Info. New in this year's leaflet are the tour times for Ardnahoe Distillery, as well as info on Nerabus Gin Ltd and Lussa Gin on the Isle of Jura.
The Distillery Tour Times leaflet is typically the thing you need at hand when you are doing distillery tours on Islay and Jura as it has all information about:
- Opening Hours of all the whisky and gin distilleries on Islay and Jura
- Overview of the Special Distillery Tours
- Info on prices of Tours and Tastings
- A section with general info on eating out and public transport
With this in your pocket, or on your tablet or smartphone, you always know where to get a dram, public transport or a bite to eat! Continue reading...
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These are exciting times for the whisky Industry on Islay. With a new distillery recently being opened and others in the planning to be built, as well as the major reconstruction plans for some of the existing distilleries, I thought it would be a good idea to write about the upcoming changes as the (distillery) landscape on Islay is rapidly changing.
Let's start with the most exciting news as recently, early April, Islay's ninth distillery opened for the public. Ardnahoe Distillery is located a mile south of Bunnahabhain. I'm sure many visitors to Islay will take the opportunity and visit Islay's latest distillery and take a tour. The interior of the distillery is beautiful and the views are amazing. There is a large restaurant with nice views too so if you're not a whisky fan you still want to make the trip and have lunch or a drink.
Ardnahoe offers several tours; The "normal tour" named Spirit of Ardnahoe starts at 10am, 2pm and 3.30pm. There are also two special tours available. All tours can be booked online which is always recommended. More info on their website www.ardnahoedistillery.com, phone 01496 840777 or email email@example.com. Read more.....
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Support Islay Lifeline Charities during your stay by buying a fabulous Islay CD!!
For those searching for the perfect gift while visiting Islay, there’s no better choice than a CD of the BBC recordings of the late Donald M MacLeod of Islay. EVERY PENNY RAISED will go to two charities which are lifelines for Islay and beyond: Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA) and the Royal National Lifeboat Institute Islay (RNLI).
This is creating a buzz amongst music lovers at home and abroad with Islay shops reporting they are ‘’selling like hotcakes” and sales requests coming from as far afield as Melbourne and Los Angeles! Donald was described in the Oban Times as “ Islay’s most famous export after whisky”. He was born and raised in Portnahaven, a crofter and Master Joiner. He and his wife Katie loved the place and its people. He was a winner of the Junior and Senior medals for singing at the Islay Mod and a National Mod Gold Medallist. In 2011 he was inducted into the Traditional Music Hall of Fame. Read more...
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It seems that Spring in recent years not only welcomed sunshine, lambs and daffodils but broken ferries and messed up timetables too. The ferry services were disrupted almost every time at the start of the tourist season which usually coincides with the start of the summer ferry timetables, end of March. The problems were usually due to ferries returning late from dry dock resulting in a knock-on effect throughout the network. Broken down ferries are another cause of disruptions as the fleet is getting older and older. This year however, according to Calmac, things were planned to be different. The maintenance schedule was altered and the two Islay ferries were supposed to be back early March to guarantee a smooth start into the tourist season....You feel it coming right?
After the breakdown of the MV Finlaggan on Friday 15th of March, only weeks after her return from dry dock, the Caledonian Isles ferry, the one between Ardrossan and Brodick (Isle of Arran) had malfunctioning bow thrusters and as a result "touched" the pier in Brodick (Arran), or as Calmac wrote on their website: "Please be advised that as the MV Caledonian Isles was coming alongside in Brodick at approx 1400hrs, the bow thrusters failed resulting in a heavy contact being made with the pier fenders. This has resulted in some damage which will require further investigation." Read more...
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I'm pleased that I can finally share some news snippets about Ardnahoe, Islay's ninth distillery. This morning I had the pleasure of a private tour of the new distillery. Paul Graham, visitor centre operations manager, showed me the ins and outs of the new distillery. It was a much anticipated experience for me as I had my first proper impressions of the beautiful interior. Without going into more detail, I will do that at a later date, I can safely say that Arnahoe is a great new asset for Islay and it will certainly become one of the tourism highlights for this year.
Ardnahoe Distillery Friday 8th March 2019
When will Ardnahoe Distillery Open?
At the moment of writing the distillery is in the test/production phase and they are preparing for their official opening on Friday 12th of April. However, this opening is for dignitaries only. The opening for regular visitors is likely to happen around the end of March but this is not certain yet. Make sure to keep an eye out on their social media channels and website for updates regarding the opening hours and other news. www.ardnahoedistillery.com
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Scotch: The Golden Dram, a revealing feature documentary on how Scotch whisky became the premiere spirit of choice around the globe, will be released in UK and Irish cinemas on March 8 by Parkland Entertainment and Munro Films. This follows the film’s European premiere at the Glasgow Film Festival on 1 March. Islay, and Jim McEwan, feature heavily in the film. The distilleries of Bruichladdich, Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg are all included.
The film marks director-producer Andrew Peat’s feature-length documentary debut, a passion project for the American filmmaker who studied at St Andrew’s University in Scotland. Andrew Peat says, “I am absolutely delighted to bring our film to UK and Irish audiences. The heart of our film is the characters, the men and women who produce Scotch whisky, from the barley farmers to the bottle makers. And you can literally see the passion and joy and pride they have in their work and this world-renowned product. They share their amazing stories, and some very humorous anecdotes. It’s a very educational film (you learn the entire process of whisky making), but at the same time it’s a film of the heart. You will laugh and possibly cry by the time the credits roll.” Continue reading...
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David Livingstone posted a link on Facebook to a video which was filmed in 1960. (great find David). The film, titled Islay Holiday, is a silent film, shot in colour and shows the "Mills family holiday to Islay visiting Gigha and passing Colonsay." This film is available from the National Library of Scotland and therefore can't be embedded on the blog, however clicking on the photo or this link will take you to the page where you can watch the film.
There are some fantastic scenes in this film and what stands out the most for me were the immaculate white buildings of Bunnahabhain Distillery, the Locheil Ferry, the shots of Port Ellen and the view up Main Street Bowmore. What a changes in almost 60 years time! The shotlist is as follows:
map of west coast showing route from mainland to Islay. Pan of Port Ellen (0.51) shot Bunnahabhain distillery. Mills family on holiday, scenery. (1.30) looking over to Jura from Port Ellen ferry at Port Ellen pier (1.47) gv's Bowmore, including ls Killarow Parish church (2.10) scenery by Lochindaal; c/u kitten walking through bracken; Portnahaven with lighthouse in distance (4.37) Ferry Locheil arriving at Gigha pier. holiday makers on Gigha looking over to Jura. (5.45) visitors in Gigha village, Mills on deck of steamer Lochiel heading for Islay; tracking shot arriving Port Askaig (7.03) ls cattle on beach (7.11) ms Mills working on upturned bicycle. l/s monument to drowned American sailors on the Oa (7.48) Ferry travelling up sound of Jura Mills on board. (8.46) Ferry Locheil? arrives off Colonsay and small launch takes off mail and passengers [Donald 'Gibbie' handles mail sacks] (9.44) Port Askaig as ferry leaves and arrives at West Loch Tarbet (9.57)
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