Welcome to Islay Weblog

Islay Weblog Brings News and Events from Islay

Welcome to Islay Weblog

Islay Weblog Brings News and Events from Islay

Welcome to Islay Weblog

Islay Weblog Brings News and Events from Islay

Loch Gruinart

Loch Gruinart

Kildalton Cross

Kildalton Cross

Islay Cloud Formations

Islay Cloud Formations

Atlantic Sunset

Beautiful Sunsets on Islay Westcoast

Port Charlotte

On the Rhinns of Islay

Loch Indaal

Loch Indaal

Atlantic West Coast

Sanaigmore Bay Saligo Bay


Isle of Jura

Islay Whisky Distilleries

Islay is famous for it's malt whisky

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Islay House Garden Party with SMWS

As already announced yesterday, this year's Islay Festival has a new event on the calendar compared to recent years. This year the Scotch Malt Whisky Society will come to Islay and organise several whisky tastings on the Islay House lawns. Islay House will soon see its first visitors arriving as it will be converted from a residence to a luxury country house hotel.

The tastings and the evening live jazz concert will be held one day before the official start of the festival, on Friday the 22nd of May, and promises to be a very nice day and evening as there will be a live jazz concert in the evening. The programme for the entire day is as follows:

  • Free entry garden party from 12 - 6pm. SMWS single cask drams and ice-cream on the Islay House lawns. Society members can enjoy an extra cask sample (please bring your membership card). Exclusive Feis Ile SMWS Membership Offer
  • Exclusive bottlings 1pm. Islay House malt, a very special Islay House single cask bottling and SMWS single cask: 3.243 Dark, smouldering flamenco gypsy
  • SMWS Masterclasses: A taste of Summer 1.30 - 2.30pm & 3.30 - 4.30pm
  • VIC (very interesting casks) Masterclass "peaty picnic tour" at 6.30pm
  • An evening of live jazz at Islay House 8 - 10.30pm. Join us on the lawn, under the summer stars, for the finale of our Open Day celebrations. Our wonderful views over Loch Indaal make the perfect setting for an evening of Live Jazz, sensational single cask whisky and great company.

The full programme is available here. Tickets can be booked through the Islay House website at www.islayhouse.co.uk

Islay Festival 2015 Programmes now Online

The island is already quite busy and the change from the calm winter season to the busy tourist season took place early April. Suddenly the weather changed for the better and the roads were noticeably busier. Accommodations were filling up, ferries became full and the empty beaches of the winter now have people on. I have counted more than 10 people at Kilchoman Beach at Easter, go figure! Yes, it was quite a crowd!

Islay is already preparing for the upcoming events and the most attention goes out to the annual Islay Whisky Festival which will be held from 23rd to the 30th of May, that's only a little over six weeks from now!! Already quite a few distillery events have been sold out, some even within a few hours after publication on the web, it has been crazy, and it looks like it will be another very busy festival week. I'm receiving emails daily with enquiries for accommodation on a daily basis. If you are still looking for accommodation please try our Accommodation Directory or find a Late Availability. Also make sure to have a booking on the ferry as they will be extremely busy. Friday the 22nd and Saturday 23rd are already fully booked for cars. Continue reading....

Islay Photo Blog Updates

Perhaps you have already seen our new Islay Photo Blog, which is now part of the Islay Gallery website. If not I'd like to give you the latest updates here as I have posted many pictures in the last weeks. The new Photo Blog allows me to make rotating galleries which is a great way to show you the results of a day out on the island. And with the motto "The more the merrier" I try to post as much pictures as possible. Below are the intro's to the last four posts with rotating galleries. I hope you enjoy them.

Kilchoman Beach and dunes with very special light (click image to open gallery)

Carraig Fhada Lighthouse on a beautiful morning (click image to open gallery)

Easter Sunday at Kilchoman Beach (click image to open gallery)

Ardnave and Ardnave Point on a glorious day (click image to open gallery)

Tag: gallery

3X8 Photo Exhibition Islay

On the very day that the least predictable-ever General Election campaign gets going, Ionad Chaluim Chille Ìle, Islay’s Gaelic Centre, will host a unique Islay coalition. Yesterday, the 30th of March, marked the dissolution of the UK Parliament and the official start of the election campaign, but for one evening alone political arguments were suspended. Titled Islay 3X8, the photographic exhibition showcases the work of Islay Studio’s professional awardwinning photographer Mark Unsworth, along with photos by Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell and former NATO Secretary General, Lord George Robertson of Port Ellen.

The fish quay at Rhuvaal. Photo by Mark Unsworth (islaystudios.co.uk)

Each photographer has eight pictures of Islay displayed in this exhibition, which was last year on display and widely admired in the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. The twenty-four images of Islay, as seen through these three different sets of eyes, show the stunning diversity and beauty of the island and its folk. The idea came from Mark Unsworth, who thought it would be a good idea to team up with the political rivals, both keen amateur snappers, in an exercise to promote the wonders of Islay. Both politicians were immediately ready to picture and promote the Queen of the Hebrides.

Kilchoman Distillery has generously supported the exhibition, which was launched during a reception on Monday 30 March at ICCI, the Gaelic Centre in Bowmore, where around 100 folk attended the official opening. The exhibition itself will run from today, the 31st of March, till 13 April 2015 at ICCI Bowmore, during regular opening hours.

Tag: photography exhibition

Kilchoman Loch Gorm 2015

It seems not so long ago that Kilchoman Distillery started distilling on Islay and it was December 2005 that the first cask was filled. That makes Kilchoman Distillery 10 years old, or young! And just like big brothers Laphroaig and Ardbeg, who will both celebrate their 200th anniversary this year, Kilchoman will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year. According to their press release there will be a few celebrations to be announced soon.

To kick off their 10th anniversary they have released their latest edition of Loch Gorm which on Monday 23rd or March for a retail price of £63.00. Only a limited quantity of this exclusive bottling will be available and if past releases are anything to go by, it will sell quickly. This is the third annual Loch Gorm to be released and each release is differentiated by the distillation and bottling dates on the front of the bottle and gift carton.

The Loch Gorm releases are traditionally matured in ex Oloroso sherry butts and this latest edition is no exception. Where the 2015 version differs from the previous year is the use of sherry hogsheads to mature a portion of the whisky rather than just sherry butts. This edition will also be marginally older than the five year old 2014 version, it being bottled from casks filled in both 2009 and 2010.

Kilchoman founder Anthony Wills said: “As well as this year’s release being slightly older, we decided to increase the ratio of single malt matured in smaller sherry hogsheads versus that matured in larger sherry butts. This increases the influence from the sherry casks and gives the whisky a striking intensity and richness. That said, the whisky retains the balance and complexity Kilchoman releases are well-known for.”

Tag: kilchoman distillery

Islay Outdoors Guiding Service

One thing is certain when you're holidaying on Islay, there's never a lack of activities on the island, regardless the season or weather. I must admit though that certain types of activities could do with some more attention. After Jeremy Hastings of Islay Birding left the island a couple of years ago, and with the knowledge that Becky Williamson who ran Islay Welly Walks will do too, there is a gap for a qualified outdoor guiding service. With so many folk visiting Islay there is definitely a need for someone who knows the ins and outs of the island. Someone who takes you out to the remoter parts of Islay on a walking or wildlife trip if you're unsure where to go, or someone who goes out fishing with you and explains where to do so best and what gear to use, or someone who takes you out stalking if you wish. Or perhaps when you're a photographer looking for the lesser known places on the island, a qualified guide might come in handy.

It just so happens that there is someone on the island who knows (almost) everyone and every place. That person is Donald James MacPhee, locally known as "DJ". Donald spent forty years as a Gamekeeper on Dunlossit Estate, the last twenty of those as its Head Keeper. Donald and his wife Isabel recently took over Kentraw Farmhouse after Donald's retirement, and he recently started a new venture called Islay Outdoors. Through Islay Outdoors he is now putting the knowledge he built up over the years as keeper to work on behalf of his clients to give them an unforgettable outdoor experience. DJ offers a range of outdoor activities, all of which can be found on his beautiful new website www.islayoutdoors.com

Tag: outdoors guide

Islay Malt Whisky Ferry Awarded

The MV Finlaggan, most of the time active on the Islay route, carries more bulk malt whisky than any other ferry in the UK, and, indeed, very possibly the world, according to a press release from Calmac. Islay has eight distilleries and neighbouring island Jura has one – all nine ship their hazardous cargo using CalMac ferries, most frequently MV Finlaggan. In 2014, the Finlaggan – which also provides occasional cover on the Skye to North Uist and Harris routes – carried 114,000 passengers, 40,000 cars and 6,500 commercial vehicles, spending the equivalent of more than 130 days at sea.

Today was announced that Caledonian MacBrayne’s MV Finlaggan ferry has won an International Safety Award with merit from the British Safety Council. The safety and handling considerations given to this most precious and revered of cargoes were among many criteria explored in a submission by CalMac to the British Safety Council for its annual awards.

“The safety of customers, crews and vessels across our fleet are of paramount importance at CalMac,” said Louis de Wolff, Head of Safety, Environment and Security at Caledonian MacBrayne. “MV Finlaggan has worked hard to ensure that all systems are in place to deliver robust health, safety and welfare procedures, accurate and thorough reporting and compliance with an extensive set of maritime legislation, licensing and certification requirements. Congratulations to all members of Finlaggan’s crew – it is a collaborative effort and testament to the way that the ship’s team has prioritised and focused on the health, safety and welfare of passengers, crew and the ship.”

“Everyone on board, has a safety role of some description,” continued MV Finlaggan’s Master, Guy Robertson. “All crew members feel fully involved and take great pride in their excellent record. They came together with headquarters’ Safety, Environment and Security Department staff to put together this award entry and we are proud to have achieved this result.”

Tag: calmac ferry whisky

See Islay Differently

Kayaking is a great way to see Islay from a different and very interesting angle. Especially on a quiet and sunny day it can be heavenly. Kayaking can also take you to places which are hard to get to on foot, think for instance about the southeastern part of the island with all the skerries, inlets, islands and other features. It's already difficult by boat and walking can be almost impossible. And as you don't need an engine all you hear will be the sound of the water and the wildlife, a very tempting idea isn't it? Especially as you don't need any experience!

If you want to discover Islay with a kayak you can do so with an experienced kayaker on the island. Dave Protherough runs Kayak Wild Islay, based in Port Ellen, and he specialises in providing quality trips around the coastline of Islay. Kayak Wild Islay offers a range of guided trips and taster sessions for all the family: A half day is best suited for those wishing to try Sea Kayaking for the very first time. Kayak Wild Islay will kit you out, provide a safety demonstration and introduce the basics of boat handling to allow you to explore the bay and its surrounding skerries. On their website they write: Continue reading....


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The Maggie

Buy The Maggie from Amazon The Maggie is one of Ealing studios lesser known comedies. It is however a 'gem' in the true sense of the word. The film has everything, humour, tragedy, pathos, romance. A wily old skipper of a Western Isles 'Puffer' and his motley crew lead all who come into contact with them a fine old time!


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