As promised yesterday tonight a post with some links to blogs that have kept us up-to-date about the whisky festival that officially ended yesterday. I would like to start with the guys from Caskstrength. Their festival week lasted only three days and started on Saturday: "Sadly, this year's trip is shorter than the previous excursions and we have only 3 (fun packed) days to take in this wonderful island. As we board the ferry we spot some of the usual Feis Ile suspects: Hansemalt. The guys from Falkirk. That chap who looks like Neil in 30 years time. Theyâ€™re all here, again. And the sun... well, the sun has got his hat on had has very much come out to play. The thermometer in the car reads 27 degrees. Bliss!"
After their arrival they head for Lagavulin, the first distillery to open the festival and also the first dsitillery where a special bottling can be bought. Sunday is traditionally Bruichladdich open day and sunny: "Unique to â€˜Laddich is their whitewashed walled quad which, along with being a suntrap also provides an excellent, controlled space for entertaining. Their open day, as with Ardbegâ€™s (the final Saturday of the festival), falls on a weekend so it tends to attract a greater number of locals, all looking for some fun on their day(s) off." On Monday they head for Caol Ila after a slow start: "Our next stop was Caol Ila, standing tall on the majestic Askaig coastline over looking the wonderful paps of Jura. We love visiting Caol Ila, especially when the sun is out- a perfect balance to the briny blasts of wind which certainly perk up the skin." They end their festival blogging with a nice review of the festival bottlings, for some the only reason to visit the festival. Continue reading...
The second blog, and most comprehensive festival account, comes from Tony and Michelle's 2010 Islay Festival Blog. They stayed the full festival week on Islay and created at least one blog post a day. The festival bottlings are gaining popularity as you can read in their first blog post from Saturday: "Saturday 22nd is Lagavulinâ€™s open day. Laga are doing a special bottling of 528 bottles. We were not arriving until 15:00 at port askaig. We raced from the ferry right accross the island, parked up and dashed to the shop. Turned out we were just in time and got the last two bottles! Happy happy joy joy." I will skip the Bruichladdich entry and head for the Laphroaig gathering, later that afternoon: "Got to Laphroaig and picked up our pack, which contained a pair of green wellies (branded with the gathering 2010), three minatures (10, 10 cask strength and quarter cask), a mini tasting glass and a certificate. Everyone put on their wellies and after some instructions we ambled up to the field. We were then arranged to spell out the letters FOL and our picture was taken from above toasting and raising mini flags. They liberally dished out the festival Carchais, which was quite light and peppery and went down very well. Touchingly, they then scattered someones ashes on the field and we toasted those who could not be there." Later on Tuesday they attended Laphroaig Open Day: "Woke up feeling the worse for wear, but a good scottish breakfast soon sorted that out. Laphroaig were running three special events. A masterclass tasting, a trip to Taxa island and a sensory tasting. We were too late to book the first two, but got on the sensory tour for 4pm. Dominic was here as a guest of Laphroaig and hence they took him on all the events. Whilst jealous, I didnt really fancy a cask strength tasting at 9 am!"
On Wednesday they visited Bowmore and Islay Ales: "We headed off (slowly and cautiously) to the Islay brewery event at the islay square house. We had not been up here before. Its a lovely square with the brewery and a chocolate shop. Chatted to a sociable bunch of germans. I think germans are much happier chatting with a beer in their hand, whisky brings out the anorak in them. Anyway, as per usual they were good company and Iâ€™ve got quite into the islay ale. So much better to taste a beer on draft than in bottles." I will skip Thursday and Friday and continue with Saturday: "It was raining when we arrived at Ardbeg, which was a shame because they had put on a marvellous show. The theme was fairground (rollercoaster) and there was a helter skelter in the central courtyard. There were also several fairground/whisky based games which in true fairground tradition were impossible to win. It cost a fiver to get in, for which you got an ardbeg glass, a baseball cap and 5 drams. Bloody good value! Whats more the drams on offer were 10 yo, blasda, still young, rollercoaster, corryvekan, uigadael and the new supernova. I could have spent the whole day here and got very drunk, but couldnt." That concludes the whisky tasting club's contribution, thanks for sharing this with us!
David Wood from the blog Angling and Dramming was on Islay for the festival as well and as could be expected, David joined the Feis angling competition: "It was a tough day's fishing on Saturday at the open competition at Loch Gorm on Islay. We fished from 1pm until 5pm in blistering heat and I'm paying for it now. I joined 22 other local lads in the competition. Many blanked because of the poor conditions but I managed to find some fish under cover in a weed bed and managed 4 fish putting me in 5th place. The winner, Kevin Morrison managed 14 fish and the second place was for only 6 fish."
I will finish this post with a spoken version of this year's festival, the podcasts from www.whiskycast.com. I'd suggest you poor yourself a nice dram, find a quiet place and enjoy the whereabouts of American journalist Mark Gillespie. He has some great interviews with people from the Islay distilleries which makes it all the more worth while to listen to.
I want to thank the above mentioned blog owners for their entries and make an apology to those I have missed. Overall the festival has been a huge success, many people visited the island, the weather was fine as well on most days so what more could be expected? There will certainly be another festival next year, I will post the dates on www.islayinfo.com. See you next year?