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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Loving the wild on Islay

There is so much on this summer at the Islay Natural History Trust, we are just bursting to share our love of Islay’s wonderful natural history with you all, come rain, shine, outside or inside!

Our Sunday rAmbles not only have been a great excuse for getting out in the fresh air for a few hours, but you get to see parts of Islay that you maybe won’t see otherwise. Our last walk from Bunnahabhain towards Staoisha through the forestry was very enjoyable with some lovely people. Amongst the many things pointed out to us along the way by our expert and walk-leader Fiona were four different types of orchid, as well as two insect-eating plants that help to make a dent in the midge population – that can only be good! We are very much looking forward to tomorrow’s walk at Killinallan, not least because there are 11 species of orchid now recorded in this small corner of Islay thanks to a new species discovered this month by some regular visitors (Mark and Sally). The Narrow-leaved Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza traunsteinerioides) is found in a handful of sites in west Scotland, including on the Isle of Mull and on Kintyre, so this new record for Islay bridges that gap. We cannot guarantee seeing all 11 species but there will be a delightful carpet of dune flowers of all shapes and colours to admire and hopefully in the sunshine a butterfly or two. Continue reading...

Ferry Tender Process and Possible Strikes

In September 2007 Calmac was rewarded the contract for the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services, no surprise as they were the only bidder in a controversial ferry tender process. V-Ships and Western Ferries, the two other contenders, left the tender process at an earlier stage.

In the last eight years Calmac has provided the lifeline services for the islands and I think it's fair to say that they have done a fantastic job. The crew is always helpful and friendly and the ferries run usually exactly on time, far better than the planes do these days by the way.

Of course there were problems too. The ageing fleet, resulting in broken down ferries, has caused several disruptions, especially this year around easter. That, however, cannot be blamed on Calmac as CMAL and Transport Scotland are responsible for that part of the business. And not everyone is pleased with the fact that more and more services are cancelled or diverted based on wind forecasts and not so much the actual wind speed. I recall several days this winter where the wind seemed to be rather calm and yet the ferry service had been cancelled. On the other hand, the master must have had his reasons and who can really blame them for putting safety first? Continue reading...

INHT Walks and Islay Botanist Gin Botanicals

Fiona writes: Here at the Islay Natural History Centre we thought we should enhance our displays on the wonderful array of plants Islay is host to. With many of these contributing to Bruichladdich’s The Botanist Gin, it seemed fitting to provide a little more background to these 22 species. As well as their highly appreciated flavour benefits to this local tipple, our ancestors had a whole array of uses for these plants from medicines to clothes dyes. Thanks to Bruichladdich Distillery for doing a wonderful job of producing and printing it to stunning effect.

We now also have our microscopes all set up to see the finer detail of plants, their leaves, flowers and stems even down to their cellular structures. New creatures will have hopefully arrived before the end of term for our sea tanks, so there are so many reasons to come by for a visit. Continue reading....

Islay’s world premiere with SNJO and Eddi Reader

The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra directed by Tommy Smith will present the world premiere of ‘Alba: Songs of Scotland’ featuring Eddi Reader at Port Ellen’s Ramsay Hall on Wednesday 10 June. The SNJO is celebrating its twentieth anniversary in style with Eddi Reader as their special guest as they tour Scotland’s island communities, Islay will be the first stop on the tour.

For two decades, Tommy Smith has led the SNJO and his efforts have placed Scotland on the world map of jazz. Eddi Reader has enthralled audiences worldwide carrying with her the spirit of modern Scotland. Together they’ve chosen a selection of popular airs, ballads and original music designed to fire the imagination. Alba would be incomplete without reference to Robert Burns. He was indisputably a love poet with few peers, and Eddi Reader is an admired interpreter of his work. Her performances with the SNJO are certain to capture the intensity of Burns’ lyrical ardour in famous pieces such as Ae Fond Kiss and John Anderson My Jo. Tickets online at www.snjo.co.uk or from Laurie’s in Port Ellen.

Tag: music

Jim McEwan from Bruichladdich Distillery Islay Retires

Jim McEwan, Production Director and Master Distiller at Bruichladdich Distillery, announced that he is to retire in July of this year after more than 52 years in the business. A legendary figure in the Scotch whisky industry, Jim joined the independent company that drove the renaissance of the then moribund Bruichladdich in the year 2000 which he described as the “Cinderella” distillery.

Paying tribute to the part his friend has played in elevating Bruichladdich to the status of a globally admired brand, CEO Simon Coughlin said: “Working with Jim for these past 15 years has been both exciting and stimulating. His deep understanding of the liquid and his ability to communicate the passion he feels for the spirit, for Islay and its people has been an inspiration to us all. “Jim’s achievements and accolades are innumerable. His creation of Octomore, the world’s most heavily peated whisky series, and then the innovation behind The Botanist Islay Dry Gin cemented his reputation as one of the greatest distillers of his generation. We are of course delighted that Jim and his wife Barbara built their house next door, so while we wish them a long and happy retirement, we are able to look forward to his continuing involvement on a less formal basis.” Continue reading...

Cantilena Festival on Islay 2015

July is always the month when Islay welcomes the chamber group Cantilena to the island to perform a series of concerts under the banner of Cantilena Festival on Islay.

Professional players of this group include Scott Mitchell who is on the staff of Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and teaches piano and accompaniment. Scott also has a busy career as soloist, chamber music player and also accompanist. Angus Ramsay who leads the second violins in Scottish Opera Orchestra and also teaches in Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Sarah Harrington plays cello in the Scottish Opera Orchestra, Stephen Shakeshaft enjoys a career as a freelance viola player and Paul Marrion who was principal bass player in London Symphony Orchestra and then BBC Symphony Orchestra but now enjoys retirement back in Scotland.

Angus and Scott are the Artistic Directors of Cantilena Festival on Islay which they founded in 2001 along with Adrian Shepherd. continue reading...

Update on Gartbreck Distillery May 2015

So what's happening at the site of Gartbreck Distillery you might wonder? After all, the distillery was supposed to open early 2016. During my visit in March 2015 there were no big changes to be seen. However, living across the loch from Gartbreck, we noticed some changes several weeks back. Suddenly the outbuildings were vanished and the view of Gartbreck had changed completely. So before we drove off to Ardbeg Distillery open day yesterday I made a detour to Gartbreck to see for myself what had happened. As you can see in the pictures below all the outbuildings are now gone and all that is left is the farmhouse. This will probably mean that work on the new Gartbreck Distillery will start very soon as was stated on their Facebook page: "Building work is due to start later this year during the second semester with a view to start production by end of 2016 or beginning of 2017."

Below are two images, one before and one after the demolition of the outbuildings. There is also a panorama which includes a link to a high res panorama of the entire Gartbreck site.

Gartbreck site in March 2015

Gartbreck site on 30th of May 2015

Click on the image for the full sized panorama

Tag: gartbreck distillery

Islay Festival - Ardbeg 200th Anniversary

That's the Islay Festival 2015 almost over. The last event is the Final Fling tonight in Port Ellen and then we'll have to wait another year before the next festival, which will be held from Friday 20th May – Sat 28th May 2016. For myself the festival had a difficult start due to back problems earlier in the week but fortunately I was able to visit Kilchoman and Ardbeg. The weather wasn't all that great this year but the atmosphere on the island was excellent. Thousands found their way to Islay to join the festivities, have a great time, join the many master classes and collect the special "festival bottlings" which resulted in long queues at the distilleries. The restaurants were extremely busy and so were the campsites and other accommodations.

The last Saturday of the festival is traditionally Ardbeg Open Day, a special one this year as they celebrated their 200th anniversary, just like Laphroaig did earlier in the week. The weather was kind to us for a change today, it was pleasantly warm with some sunshine, much enjoyed by the large crowd in the new courtyard in front of the Ardbeg visitor centre. There was dance, good music, an ice bar, a fish van, Islay Oysters, a stall from Islay Glass Crafts, great drams and fabulous Arbroath Smokies. It was a lovely day! Continue reading...


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