The 2017 edition of the Islay Festival of Music and Malt is on its way and it's very noticeable too on the island. Many folk from all over the world have arrived on Islay, many of them are return visitors. Accommodations are fully booked and the campsite at Port Mor looks as if there's not a single space left. What a comparison to a week ago. Bowmore was crowded too with hardly a parking space to find and many folk were queueing at Bowmore distillery to get their hands on a special limited festival bottling. Not sure when the queue started but it was very early morning for some, perhaps even night?
The first Saturday of the Islay Festival is traditionally Lagavulin Open day and it started off warm and humid. Last year Lagavulin celebrated their 200th anniversary which attracted many visitors to the south of Islay. This year was a bit quieter, better organised traffic wise and the atmosphere was just as pleasant as last year, not at the least due to a magnificent new band called "Tide Lines" with lead singer Robert Robertson, former band member and lead singer of Skipinnish. Various art stalls, a nice demonstration by the coopers, the burger tent, ice cream van, sea food shack and of course Lagavulin's excellent drams were the ingredients for a good time. The weather was kind as well as it stayed dry and warm for most of the day. Below are some impressions of this year's start of the Islay Festival and Lagavulin Open Day. Continue reading...
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The start of the Islay Festival has a special newcomer this year. Although Ardnahoe has no distillery on Islay yet, they do have a distillery shop and it opened yesterday at 10am. Because planning permission for a temporary shop at Ardnahoe Farm, which is next to the new distillery site, was not granted by A&B Council, they had to find an alternative location. As it so happened Mark Unsworth of Islay Studios moved across the square to a bigger and better equipped location and as a result Ardnahoe Distillery is now occupying the space of the former Islay Studios shop on the square in Bridgend. The shop will stay at this location for a few years until Ardnahoe Distillery have their own visitor centre and shop on site.
To mark the start of the construction of Ardnahoe Distillery, Hunter Laing & Co has unveiled a range of six very rare Islay whiskies. They go under the name Kinship Range and the range comprises of a 34-year-old Sherry cask Port Ellen (£1,800), 33-year-old Sherry cask Caol Ila (£375), 30-year-old Sherry cask Bowmore (£495), 30-year-old Bourbon cask Laphroaig (£720), 28-year-old Sherry cask Bunnahabhain (£310) and a 26-year-old Bourbon cask Ardbeg (£720). A very remarkable range indeed! Continue reading...
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Martine Nouet and Audrey Gow, neighbours on the Rhinns of Islay, are going to do something special during this years Islay festival. On Saturday 27th of May, Tuesday 30th May and Thursday the 1st of June they will open a Pop Up restaurant in the beautiful dining room of Ocean View B&B in Nerabus.
Guests will enjoy a four-course dinner, cooked by Martine and Audrey, with each course paired with an Islay whisky. Each night is limited to 10 guests, and places must be booked and paid for in advance. This is going to be a unique and very special treat.
More info is available on this website. You can also email either email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to book a place for this unique event.
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Wilder Ways offers you an opportunity to take their experienced horses on an exhilarating journey through some of the lesser known wilds of Scotland. Whether you are an adventure seeker wanting a trip of a life time, or are looking to get back into riding and build your confidence back up, Wilder Ways have an adventure to suit you. Customers can even bring their own horse, either to adventure to the max, or to gain confidence from being part of our experienced herd. And now Wilder Ways take to the seas for their Isle of Islay adventure this summer.
The herd will travel by ferry to enjoy the beautiful Hebridean Isle of Islay for the month of July. Wilder Ways have been working hard to put together an exciting programme of riding adventures, so you can explore some of the breath-taking scenery of this stunning island and enjoy the many exhilarating riding experiences on offer. There are 7km of golden beach, cliff-top paths, woodland trails and hills and, for the adventurous, some of the most extreme wilderness riding available. There'll also be time to see some local heritage and maybe drop by one of the distilleries to sample some of the famous Islay malt whisky. Continue reading...
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Hiya! I had been hoping to post again sooner as the 2017 ‘season’ started, but, better late than never, I have been able to put a little something together for you now! My 2017 season as RSPB Community Information & Tourism Officer is well under way, and I now have an opportunity to let you know what I’ve been up to, and what is coming up in the season.
Since my last post, my new boss, Mark, the new warden for RSPB Loch Gruinart, has arrived and we have also welcomed Joan, in the role of Visitor Experience volunteer. At the beginning of April, the RSPB hosted various walks on both its reserves, Loch Gruinart and The Oa, for Walk Islay week. It was good to see some familiar faces from last year, all the way from USA, and the walks were well attended. I also enjoyed meeting Steve (and his wife, Sue) from Islay Heritage, discussing ways in which both organisations could benefit from the wealth of history, heritage and archaeology found on the RSPB reserves. Another exciting development is coming to fruition, with RSPB Loch Gruinart becoming a ‘Scout friendly’ reserve, working with the First Islay Scout Group as part of the larger partnership between RSPB Scotland and Scouting Scotland. Together with The Botanist Foundation and Bruichladdich Distillery, responsible for The Botanist gin RSPB Islay will be introducing some evening walks later this year which will focus on sustainable foraging, and the opportunity to meet Mark (www.gallowaywildfoods.com), the man who puts the ‘Islay’ into The Botanist gin! Continue reading....
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A few weeks ago I wrote on Twitter "We are taking our photography to a higher level with our new Drone" and I included a few photo's of Port Charlotte from around hundred metres up in the sky. It marked the start of an extra service we are offering to everyone on Islay: Islay Drone Photography. By flying a drone and taking photographs or video from higher up in the sky we are opening up a completely new way of capturing Islay's beauty.
Personally I think it's everyone's dream to be able to fly and to look at the area you live in from an elevated position. That's why we like satellite imagery and Google Earth so much. Admiring views from higher up is one of the reasons why we climb mountains and with a drone you can literally create your "own mountain" anywhere and look down below to take in these breathtaking views. Continue reading....
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I can't think of a better name for a Pizzeria on Islay than Peatzeria, it's carefully chosen and blends in perfectly with Islay's rich whisky past and present. And it's not only the name that is carefully chosen as you will find out for yourself when you visit this restaurant in Shore Street Bowmore. The interior is just as beautiful as the name is original and my first thought was when I entered Peatzeria for the first time that it could be just as well in the centre of Glasgow, or anywhere else for that matter. The design is just stunning and the owners made the best of the limited space available. This former church building can seat 32 people, made possible by a mezzanine floor. A further 20 seats will become available later on in May when the outdoor area will be finished which has fantastic views over Loch Indaal. I can't wait for those beautiful warm evenings! Continue reading....
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This year's Islay Festival of Music and Malt will start on Friday the 26th of May and will end on Saturday the 3rd June. So it's less than a month before Islay House Hotel will kick off this years Feis Ile with their traditional garden party on Friday. They have invited the Scotch Malt Whisky Society for a whisky pairing masterclass and a blues band to end the evening under the stars. Fingers crossed!
Lagavulin Distillery is the first of the distilleries to have their open day with masterclasses, special tours, food stalls and coopers who show you the craft of cask building. The musical backdrop will be provided by Tide Lines, a new Scottish Band with familiair vocals as the lead singer is Robert Robertson who left Skipinnish last year. Tide Lines will also perform at the Ceilidh in Ramsay Hall that same evening.
On Sunday Bruichladdich Distillery will celebrate their open day and it will be another very busy and hopefully sunny day. There is lots to see and do and there is a great lineup of bands playing that day such as the Salsa Celtica Celtic Band, The Coaltown Daisies, Tide Lines and The Blueswater. Ella Edgar's Highland Dancers will show their dances, there are many art and food stalls and there's a malt bar and botanist tent. Continue reading....
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Hello, and welcome to my first guest blog on Islay Info. I’ll be blogging on a regular basis, hoping to give everyone up-to-date news and information about what I’m up to on Islay in my role as the RSPB Community Information & Tourism Officer. That’s a mouthful and a real tongue twister to start with, so the job is often referred to as ‘CITO’. I am part of a fantastic team that manage our farms and reserves on the island and, whereas I consider them to be the brains behind our operations, I have made it my mission to be the ‘mouth. Should you visit the reserves, particularly the Visitor Centre at Loch Gruinart, or even better, join one of the many guided walks I have planned over the next 7 months, you’ll be left in no doubt that I take that responsibility seriously!
I also go by the name ‘Botswana Dave’. This is because there are a quite a few of us on Islay all called “David”, so with all the usual abbreviations and nicknames already allocated, and because I have spent a considerable part of my adult life in Botswana, it made everyone’s life simpler to give me that ‘call-sign’. I use ‘Botswana Dave’ as my Profile Name on Facebook and Twitter (@IslayRangerDave), should you wish to ‘follow’ me there.
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Although we live in a digital era, many folk still like to read a real paper book which they can hold in their hands and read anywhere, without the need of a tablet, kindle, computer or other reading device. It's also nice to switch off every now and then and forget about all the digital stuff. And personally, when you're making the trip to Islay this year, I can't think of better reading material than a book about your favourite island. I always like to think that the more you know about a place in advance, and the better prepared you are before you go, that it will have a very positive impact on your holiday. That's why I can highly recommend purchasing a few books and guides about Islay. Both to read before you leave for Islay and to read when you are on Islay. Of course you can always read the tons of information we have online on our various websites but like I said earlier, it's just so nice to switch off at times. That's why I have picked six of the best Islay books and together they cover a lot of topics, from the fascinating history, general information, pronounciation of Gaelic words, the background of whisky distilling on Islay, a guide to walking and a book about experiences from other travellers. These will get you prepared and in the mood for your upcoming Islay holiday and keep you pleasantly occupied when the weather is bad. Here goes:
Islay: Pevensey Island Guides by Norman Newton
A small book, but loaded with gorgeous colour pictures of this beautiful Island in the Hebrides. Has a useful information and Places to visit Guide. Gives you a crash course of Place-Names and their pronunciation, so you won't be murdering the Gaelic. Includes a map, gives information of Medieval ruins, the Islay distilleries - which produces fine Single Malt Whisky. Gives you a real flavour of Islay. The book is soft sided and lightweight so it's easy to bring along. Buy here via Amazon. Continue reading...
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