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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Bruichladdich Octomore 07.3 Released

Farmer, James Brown’s father was awarded the tenancy of Octomore on the Rhinns of Islay in 1960 and James remembers walking the family’s cattle from the farm at Carn where he was born, through the village of Port Charlotte and up the hill to their new pasture. Then aged eight, James could never have dreamed how the name, ‘Octomore’, would come to resonate throughout the whisky world, although he soon learned that his new home had once housed a distillery. The tumble down ruins of the old buildings were still there as part of the farmyard.

James became a farmer like his father and now raises top-quality Angus and Highland cattle in the beautiful, rugged landscape. His beef is much sought-after, but his friendship with the whisky men behind the renaissance of neighbouring Bruichladdich was to have far reaching consequences.

Following a late night "what If" session, it was decided to use the name, "Octomore" to represent what would become the most heavily-peated whisky series in the world. The cult that grew up around the extraordinary new spirit would mean that life for the Brown family would never be quite the same again.

Islay Ferries and Winter Timetables

I had an interesting conversation via Twitter today with the always helpful staff at Calmac. Earlier this month the winter timetable for the Islay route was published. It actually consisted of two separate timetables. The main winter timetable period runs from 26 October 2015 to 24 March 2016. However, from the 2nd of January to the 26th of February there is an alternative timetable in effect with less sailings, Islay will then go back to a one ferry service. So I got in touch with Calmac to find out which ferry is sailing when and where and according to which timetable. Here goes:

26th of October 2015 to 2nd of January 2016
From 26th October, MV Finlaggan and MV Hebridean Isles will operate as normal. In November (dates TBC), MV Hebridean Isles will go for her refit and will be relieved by MV Isle of Arran. When MV Hebridean Isles comes back from her refit, she will resume service with MV Finlaggan until 2nd January.

2nd of January 2016 to 27th of February 2016
MV Hebrides enters her refit period and will also cover for another route’s refit period so both MV Isle of Arran and MV Hebridean Isles will cover the Uig triangle service during this time ( as per this article ) and Islay will have a single vessel service operated by MV Finlaggan.

27th of February 2016 to 24th of March 2016
From 27th February, there will be two vessels back on the Islay service, MV Hebridean Isles and MV Isle of Arran, as MV Finlaggan will need to go for her refit.

The winter timetables for the Islay service can be found here

Tag: ferries travel calmac

Calmac Wins Best Ferry Company Award

CalMac wins best ferry company category at inaugural The Independent Travel Awards

Against stiff competition from across the world, Scotland’s Caledonian MacBrayne has won the best ferry company category at The Independent Travel Awards.

Nominees for this inaugural international competition were selected by public vote and industry experts, and the winners were chosen by a panel of judges, including Head of Travel for The Independent, The Independent on Sunday and i, Sophie Lam, The Independent’s Senior Travel Editor and well-known broadcaster, Simon Calder, and broadcasters and travellers Ben Fogle and Stephen Bayley.

The judges said: “The winner, Caledonian MacBrayne, prevailed thanks to its artful combination of providing lifelines from the Scottish Highlands to the islands, while at the same time offering an expanding range of tourist opportunities - such as the West Coast Whisky Pass.”

Other companies included in the shortlist were P&O, Brittany Ferries, Scillonian Ferries, British Columbia Ferries and Boshphorous Ferries – the latter was highly commended.

“We couldn’t be more delighted to be the first ever recipient of this award,” said Caledonian MacBrayne’s Managing Director, Martin Dorchester. “It was an extremely strong short list with companies which are well-known and admired within the industry. Continue reading....

SeaSalt Bistro and Takeaway Port Ellen

Good news for the locals and tourist on Islay as tomorrow, Tuesday 6th October, will see the long awaited grand opening of SeaSalt Bistro and Takeaway. They are located opposite the old police station in Port Ellen, 57 Frederick Crescent, in the building of the former Indian Restaurant. The last six months saw a a complete refurbishment and the new restaurant looks very welcoming and modern with an open kitchen. The owners, Yan and Veronika, known from Yan's kitchen in Port Charlotte, have done an amazing job together with their builders and staff. From Tuesday the 6th of October the restaurant will be open for both sitting in and takeaways and you can enjoy fabulous seafood, excellent steaks, pizza's, pasta's and a lot more. From the middle of October there will be a delivery service as well, all the way up to and including Bowmore.

Their new website has gone live tonight at www.seasalt-bistro.co.uk. You can find some impressions of the new interior, their comprehensive lunch, dinner and takeaway menus as well as contact information to make a reservation. Yan told me earlier today that Saturday night is already fully booked. This is a great addition for the village of Port Ellen and for Islay, and judging from what I've heard so far it will be a big success. Good luck Yan and Veronika with your new venture!!

Tag: restaurant bistro port ellen takeaway eating out

Healthy Scotland Cooking Bus Visits Islay

The Cooking Bus, funded by the Scottish Government as part of its Healthier Scotland programme, has visited Islay in September. The bus is run by Focus on Food, the leading organisation to support the teaching of cooking in schools and communities across the UK, a great initiative. During their stay on Islay the professional staff, with the help of volunteers and school staff, delivered cooking lessons and health advice to a grand total of 174 school pupils. There had been eleven sessions for school pupils, all fully subscribed. 42 S1 High School students plus 28 High School hospitality certificate students were accommodated. From the four primary schools there was a total of 104 schoolchildren. A session for community groups was fully subscribed.

George Dean, volunteer at the Islay House Community Garden, had conceived of a visit when he saw the bus in Edinburgh three years ago. The Community Garden made an application, supported by the High School. “Finally this year I got a call to see if we were still interested, to which the answer was obvious,” he said. The bus used (as far as possible) local produce, and by all accounts, those attending found it inspiring!” Continue reading....

Grand Tours Scottish Islands - Islay a Race Apart

BBC Scotland is running a beautiful series about the Hebridean Islands of Scotland, each Monday night at 7.30pm for six nights. The title is "Grand Tours of the Scottish Islands" and is presented by Paul Murton. They set out to "experience island life today, uncover the past and reveals its connections with the present, pointing to the quirky, the surprising and the beautiful lying just offshore." The series started on the 7th of September in the Outer Hebrides. Last week Paul Murton was in the Shiant and Summer Isles and tonight we can see him visiting Islay, accompanied amongst others by Becky Williamson.

The BBC writes about the Islay episode which is titled "A Race Apart": "Among the islands of the Hebrides there's one that can rightly claim to have a separate identity - Islay - which was once the capital of the ancient Lordship of the Isles. This programme sees Paul travel from Finlaggan, where the famous ruler Somerled once held court, along Islay's windswept coast, through its historic ports and villages to end on its highest mountain. Along the way he will join a dedicated bunch of Ileach who are keeping the seafaring traditions of the island alive, discover the secrets of Islay's illicit whisky distilling past and travel to the stunning Mull of Oa on the island's south coast where they visit Soldiers Rock, before climbing Ben Vicar for a breathtaking view across the Hebrides."

Needless to say that this is a must so don't forget: tonight, Monday 28 September, 7.30pm, on BBC Scotland.

Tag: television bbc

So What do the Locals think of Laphroaig

This week saw Laphroaig Live being broadcasted over the internet, this time from the distillery on Islay, to celebrate their 200th anniversary. As a friend of Laphroaig myself, and admirer of their excellent whiskies, I followed the event live via the internet, although we only live 32km from the distillery. During the event a nice collection of whiskies were tasted including a 32yr old Laphroaig, distilled in a time when the world looked very different from today. It was a pleasant and well orchestrated event, much different from the Laddie Live broadcast a couple of weeks ago. The latter was maybe not as slick but just as pleasant to watch. Nice to see that they each have their very own style, I happen to like both. Anyway, to make a long story short, Laphroaig likes opinions, which is great, and during their live event they showed a commercial in which they interviewed a few locals and asked them about their opinion of Laphroaig. It's a nice wee video, with surprising opinions too! Enjoy!

direct link to video on youtube

Tag: laphroaig

Access Road for New Bruichladdich Warehouses

The new bonded warehouse project for Bruichladdich is a blessing for Islay as jobs are very important for the island. It's the only way to keep the Laddie Spirit on the island and with it the bottling hall as well. Without the warehouses there would be a real chance that whisky would be matured on the mainland and the entire bottling hall, with it many jobs, would have to move as well.

In an earlier post I wrote about the warehouse plans. And now, a few months later, work has actually started. The first phase is to build an access road to the site, south of Bruichladdich Distillery. The access road will start next to the BT Exchange, opposite Port Ban, where there used to be a lay-by for visitors of the beach. The lay-bay is now gone as works are in progress. However, as part of the access road plans, there has been agreed that a parking place will be built with parking for 10 or so cars, allowing visitors of the beach a safer parking place than before.

The pictures below were taken this morning and show the area where the works are taking place. And yes, the weather was amazing!

The view looking towards Port Charlotte and BT Exchange

View west from what was the Lay-by

Tag: warehouses bruichladdich


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