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

Jura

Isle of Jura

Islay Whisky Distilleries

Islay is famous for it's malt whisky



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Port Charlotte Islay Barley Single Malt Whisky

For the first time, perhaps in the long history of distillation on Islay, Bruichladdich distillery has produced a heavily-peated single malt from barley grown entirely on the island. Records detailing the provenance of the barley used in Scotch whisky distillation are few because in the past, nobody seems to have cared where the raw material came from. Growing malting barley on Islay has always been difficult and therefore expensive, so all the distilleries that grew up here following the Customs and Excise Act of 1823 were built on the coast to facilitate the import of barley, and the export of whisky, by sea.

This was also true for Lochindaal Distillery in the village of Port Charlotte which made a heavily peated whisky until it closed in 1929. Islay’s farms may have supplemented the imported barley with home grown grain, but it will all have been added to the general mix, with no sense that Islay barley could impart an individual character to the spirit. Continue reading...

Motion to Stop Declining Islay Population

In August 2013 I wrote about the results of the Scottish Census, held in 2011. Some areas in Scotland as well as some of the Islands on the west coast saw an increase in population while Islay saw a decline. A quote from the article: "Quite in contrast with some of the other islands, the population of Islay has dropped almost 7%, from 3,457 to 3,228. The number of resident households were 1541 ten years ago and it is now 1479 (Figures in table A4). This is not the total number of houses on Islay, this is the number of houses that are lived in all year round. Holiday homes and second homes are not part of this figure."

Although more houses are being built on Islay, which will give more families a chance to settle on the island, it looks like it is not enough. There still is a shortage in affordable housing which is probably one of the reasons the population won't grow. On the other hand there are the holiday homes for the tourists and then there are the second homes which are sometimes only lived in during the summer. Some of the villages are becoming very dark and empty in the winter. These fragile communities badly need new families to revert this process. However, there might be some light at the end of the tunnel as it now seems that the council will give the decline of population a higher priority in their programme for the next years: Continue reading...

Kilnave Chapel and Cross Pictures

If there is one place on Islay where one can have mixed feelings about it's probably Kilnave Chapel. For me there is no place more tranquil and mystical on a beautiful Islay day than this one. The only sounds you hear on a beautiful calm day when you walk around the burial grounds are the gentle waves on the rocks below and the birds in the fields and on the sea shore. The views from this magical place are just stunning. It's a peaceful haven in a fabulous location. However, this is also the place of a terrible tragedy. During the last clan battle on Islay, the Battle of Traigh Gruinart in 1598, 30 men from Clan MacLean tried to find sanctuary inside this chapel but their opponent, Clan MacDonald, were mad with grief and anger because they thought that their chief had been killed in the battle, and lusting for vengeance they set fire to the roof of the chapel killing all 30 men but one. Below are some views of Kilnave Chapel and Cross taken on a beautiful and very peaceful November morning.


The track towards Kilnave Chapel


Kilnave Chapel and Cross


The chapel and the burial grounds


View over Loch Gruinart

Tag: kilnave cross loch gruinart

An Amazing Islay Day in November

I had to see people today for IT Support and Web Design all over the island so I took off early this morning in rather appalling weather. Due to the strong winds the morning ferries were cancelled and there was quite a bit of rain as well. When I stopped in Port Charlotte the waves were crashing over the pier and the sky was very dark, it was an amazing sight. By the time I arrived in Bowmore it was dry and on my way to the Oa patches of blue sky appeared. During lunch time I left for Lagavulin and Ardbeg, where I had a very nice lunch at the Old Kiln Cafe. By now the sun was breaking through the clouds. After lunch I went back to the Oa, to Ballivicar, in bright sunshine. At the end of the day the wind was almost gone and I witnessed a beautiful sunset from the shore of Loch Indaal just outside Bridgend. What an amazing Islay day it was, the contrast between the pictures below, both of Loch Indaal and both taken on the same day, couldn't have been any bigger.


Waves Crashing on the Pier at Port Charlotte


Stunning sunset in calm weather at Loch Indaal

Tag: loch indaal port charlotte

Islay Sessions This Weekend

Islay Sessions 2014 will be taking place from Friday 14 through Sunday 16 November at various locations across the island. Mirroring the success of last year’s programme, the weekend will kick off with a relaxed and informal evening at Laphroaig Distillery, with a few drams of course. Fèis Òigridh Ìle tutors, Simon Moran and Ciara MacTaggart, together with the music department of Islay High School, have been offering pupils a groupwork class in traditional Scottish music since August, and the Islay Sessions team are delighted that some of the young people will be taking part in the first event of the weekend at Laphroaig Distillery.

This year’s line up is yet again full of talent and foot stomping promise, with local fiddler Rebecca Brown and her accomplished band members forming The Rebecca Brown Trio. Ali Levack, a whistle player/piper and semi-finalist of the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2015 will play, and Fiona Dunn, the Gaelic Language Officer at Glasgow University and will be pleasing audiences with her Gaelic song. Her counterpart, Shona Masson, is an accomplished pianist, fiddler and singer originally from Skye and currently a member of the Glasgow Gaelic Musical Association. Continue reading...

Islay in One Day

I think everyone agrees that a visit to Islay should last as long as possible but if you just don't have the time you can do Islay in one day. Agreed, you don't get to see as much as you should but on the other hand, you'll probably get good enough impressions to start thinking about a return visit. The video below gives an example of what you could do when you are one day on Islay. If I'm not mistaken the person in this video travelled with Scottish Routes and they visited Bruichladdich, Kilchoman and Bowmore distilleries as well as Machir Bay and the Islay Woolen Mill. Enjoy!


direct link to video on youtube

Walk on the Crags above Grannies Rock Islay

We had a stunningly beautiful November day on Islay although it looked a lot cloudier on the east of the island. A good opportunity for a walk along Machir Bay and up the track to Grannies Rock. On the highest point of the track we walked further up the crags above Grannies Rock near the radio station which is clearly visible from the beach below. The views from up there are stunning in almost every direction as you can see in the pictures below. A highly recommended and very rewarding Islay Walk!


Panorama Radiostation above Kilchoman Beach - Click for the full panorama


Panorama Machir Bay below Grannies Rock - Click for the full panorama


Looking south from Creag Bealach na Caillich


Looking north to Saligo, Loch Gorm and Kilchoman Cemetery

Tag: kilchoman machir panorama radiostation

Fireworks and Bonfires Tonight on Islay

There are already huge piles of wood visible in various places on Islay (picture right is in Portnahaven). Tonight around 7pm they will all be lit to celebrate Bonfire Night, or Guy Fawkes Night as it is also called. And there will be fireworks as well so it will be a fun evening. Now why is this happening? Lighting fires and setting off fireworks? This tradition dates back to the early 1600s and is still very much alive today.

I've found a nice description on the backgrounds of this particular day on this website: "It goes back to the 1600's, when Queen Elizabeth died and James I took the throne. James was not tolerant to different religions and was planning to execute the Catholics. A group of Catholics got together with a plan of blowing up the Houses of Parliament, thus killing James, the Prince of Wales and the members of Parliament who were making life difficult for the Catholics. One by one people got scared and dropped out of the plan. One man by the name of Guy Fawkes, was brave enough to carry it through but was caught in the cellar of Parliament by the authorities on the night of November 5th with 36 barrels of gunpowder. On that very night, people all over the country lit bonfires to celebrate the safety of the King."

Happy bonfire night to all of you, please be careful with the fireworks. Below are a few images taken tonight in Portnahaven...



Tag: bonfire night guy fawkes fireworks

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