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Migrating Whooper Swans on Islay

With the changing of the seasons the thousands of Barnacle Geese return from Greenland to winter on the Isle of Islay. Together with the Geese there are also around four thousand Whooper Swans migrating south from Iceland. The Whooper Swans don't stay on Islay but continue further east and south to the Scottish Mainland and (Northern) Ireland where Islay is merely a stop to rest, feed and recover from the first, sometimes tiring, leg of their journey. This year a rather large group of Whooper Swans are occupying a stubble-field near Rockside Farm which is a great opportunity to observe them from a relatively short distance.


Whooper Swans near Sunderland Farm

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Port Ellen Distillery Islay Back into Production in 2020

Port Ellen Distillery on Islay and Brora Distillery in Sutherland, which have both been silent since its closure in 1983, will be brought back into production through a £35 million investment. The news was published today by Diageo who also own Lagavulin and Caol Ila distilleries on Islay as well as Port Ellen Maltings. Subject to planning permission and regulatory consents, detailed design, construction and commissioning work, it is expected both distilleries will be in production by 2020.


Warehouses and kilns of Port Ellen Distillery

In the 34 years since Port Ellen was closed, the whisky had become some of the most highly prized and sought after liquids in Scotch whisky, renowned for exceptional quality and character; elevating the ghost distillery to cult status amongst whisky enthusiasts and collectors.

For many years whisky fans around the world have called on Diageo to reopen the Port Ellen Distillery and Brora. The decision is partly a response to those demands from existing enthusiasts but it also reflects the strong growth in the single malt Scotch market and the opportunity to create new generations of whisky consumers. continue reading...

Islay Barley Harvest in full Swing

Kilchoman and Bruichladdich distillery rely for a part of their ingredients for whisky making on locally grown barley. Currently around 25 percent of the barley used by Bruichladdich is from Islay, for Kilchoman that percentage is substantially higher, if not all! Kilchoman also have their own "Kilchoman Branded" combine since this year, see photo taken yesterday evening at sunset with the Atlantic in the background.

In recent years the demand for Islay grown barley has increased and more and more fields turn golden in late summer when the barley is ready to be harvested and used to produce some of the excellent Islay malt whiskies.

To harvest the barley a few conditions need to be met. The fields shouldn't be too sodden, preferably dry for the heavy machines, and most of all the barley itself has to be dry enough to harvest. Continue reading...

Islay Book Festival 2017 with a Great Programme

This autumn, from 29 September to 1 October, Islay Book Festival is aiming to kick-start its second decade in a big way. Its enthusiastic team of volunteers is planning a lively programme of events aimed at increased variety, engagement, and especially fun!

Islay Book Festival first grew out of a book club based in the village of Port Ellen, hosting its first festival in 2006. Islay has since held ten successful festivals in Port Ellen and has hosted a range of famous authors including Val McDermid, Ruth Rendell, Ali Smith, Julia Donaldson, Iain Banks, Chris Brookmyre and Mairi Hedderwick.

In those first ten years, Islay Book Festival firmly established its presence on Islay’s busy events calendar and has also become a feature of the UK’s annual book festival circuit, and it has become a particularly popular festival for authors. Who wouldn’t want a trip to Islay, after all? Continue reading....

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