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...
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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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The Queen's Baton Relay is in Scotland from 22-26 August 2017! Various events are planned as the Baton tours the country on its journey around the Commonwealth to the Gold Coast Games in April 2018 in Australia.
The baton, with a team of twelve accompanying it, arrived yesterday on the morning plane and made its way to Bowmore Primary School to meet pupils from all the primary schools. It then made its way, via Bowmore Distillery, to the Square, in glorious weather conditions, allowing an opportunity for the public to see and photograph the baton. After a trip to ICCI, the baton made its way back to the plane in the early afternoon to continue its journey through Scotland and other parts of the world.
Below a very nice video which was shot during the festivities yesterday.
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Ann Vastano is a Scottish Highland Artist living and working in the Highlands, based in Aviemore, probably best known for her artworks which hang in the Scottish Parliament.
Originally born in Bowmore, her family have enjoyed regular return trips to Islay. Last year Ann decided she would really like to hold an exhibition of art works reflecting a re-engagement with the land and seascapes of the isle, and is delighted that the exhibition has now come to fruition.
It opened earlier this month at the Ionad Chaluim Chille Ìle. Ann has created an island portfolio of her trademark colourful paintings with the key theme being incorporation of Islay Gaelic. She has also created an exclusive Islay Gaelic calendar – Mìosachan ìle 2108 which showcases the work of the exhibition – and is available to purchase at the Gaelic Centre. A percentage of the sales of this calendar will be donated to the Islay and Jura Sick Children’s Fund.
Ann is very grateful to have received some sponsorship from Caledonian MacBrayne and also New Concept who recently completed work on Bowmore’s brand new eatery, “Peatzeria”. The exhibition runs until the end of September.
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Islay has a new whisky festival in the autumn, 23-27 October 2017, and it's called Theatre of Drams. It has an entirely different concept from the spring festival as Theatre of Drams has a more educational focus. Theatre of Drams is an expansion and development of the hugely successful Whisky Course Islay hosted by Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) and participating Islay distilleries in 2015 and 2016.
Theatre of Drams Whisky Symposium/Festival offers educational and fun benefits for beginners, experts and enthusiasts alike. You can participate in a barley seminar with Islay farmers and Dr Steve Hoad of the Scottish Rural Colleges Agronomy Institute or learn secrets of Copper and stills from Speyside Copperworks. Explore the mysteries of peat, peated whisky and phenols, with Rachel MacNeill and enjoy an educational Masterclass led by Whisky Maestro Jim McEwan, formerly Bruichladdich, now building new Islay Distillery, Ardnahoe, with Hunter Laing. Learn why there is no such thing as an illicit still and there is the possibility to share a dram with distillery managers, excise men and Islay locals whilst listening to stories of old. Continue reading....
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A little over seven weeks ago we boarded the ferry at Port Askaig for a long trip to see family and friends. Living on a remote island such as Islay is fabulous but having older family abroad requires longer trips away to spend very necessary time with them. Last Monday night we arrived home on the evening ferry and we were welcomed with a magical sunset.
Over the course of almost two months I didn't blog about Islay and now that we're back it's catching up time. Quite a few interesting things have happened during that time and I will cover most of them in this post:
Islay Rum Distillery
Ben Inglis from Islay is starting his own craft rum distillery at Glenegedale. If all goes to plan, the High Road Rum Company as it is called could become the first rum distillery on Scotland’s West Coast. Ben also hopes to make the distillery an extra attraction to visitors to the island, by showing how rum is made. ‘We want to show people the whole process,’ he said. ‘It will all be done by hand. Scotland has such a reputation with spirits, and that needs to be upheld. There are no half measures. It has to be done the right way: take the high road.
‘It just wouldn’t be right to buy in our spirit and pass it off as Islay rum,’ Ben explained. ‘I have made it my mission to take the time and effort to research traditional means of fermentation, distillation and maturation of rum so I know every detail. This doesn’t mean everything will be traditional – after all we are talking about rum on the whisky isle.’ Continue reading...
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Local paramedic Joe Hughes is to kayak round Islay’s coast to raise money to increase Islay’s supply of defibrillators.
To raise the necessary funds Joe will undertake a circumnavigation of Islay in his kayak on Saturday 8 July 2017. This will be a distance of around 135km and take in the region of 25-30 hours. He will be supported throughout the trip by friends and colleagues in the emergency services along with members of Islay Kayak club. This is an extreme event which will see Joe battle stresses and strains along with mental and physical fatigue.
Joe is a keen Kayaker, having started when he was eighteen years old. He has paddled to St Kilda and around Skye during the past eight years so can consider himself an experienced kayaker. His circumnavigation of Islay will, however, be a first. 'It’s certainly a challenge,' Joe said. 'I’ve never paddled that distance before.' His training for the challenge has involved a number of 40 kilometre paddles. He has gone from Port Ellen to Port Askaig and also from Port Askaig to Bowmore. Joe thinks that June is the best month to attempt the challenge, the days being very long. He is timing things so that he will paddle the west coast during the hours of daylight. Continue reading...
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The aim of the Made in Islay and Jura group is to support local artists and crafts people to display and sell their work. Bruichladdich Village Hall supports the group by providing the venue twice a week on Tuesday & Thursday from 10.30 - 4.30 and the resident artists and craftspeople welcome you to visit them there.
Islay photographer James Deane says " Made in Islay & Jura Craft Markets provides an opportunity to exhibit and sell work and is also a great way to meet visitors to the Island, we have the chance to talk and exchange ideas and visitors find out what its like to live and work here." Local resident Linda says " It's lovely to come into such a welcoming place, I can get a gift here which I can't get any where else."
This year the Craft Markets will be held throughout the tourist season until the middle of October. So if you're looking for a nice gift make sure to visit the markets on Tuesday and Thursday in Bruichladdich Hall. You can find these and other events listed in our Islay Events Calendar
Islay & Jura Craft Market in Bruichladdich Hall
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Fraser Shaw, originally from Glasgow, lived on Islay where he worked in the Port Charlotte Hotel. He was a great musician but very sadly passed away in May 2015 after battling with MS. He is still missed by many from near and far. Later in that same year the Fraser Shaw Trust was set up by family and friends. Their website states: "The foremost aim of the Fraser Shaw Trust is to raise money for the relief of multiple sclerosis, particularly in Argyll, Scotland, through a series of projects and events celebrating the late Fraser Shaw and his music. Proceeds are also used for the advancement of education, arts and culture in Scotland, particularly on the Isle of Islay."
A few years before Fraser's passing, he had it in mind to release a book of his own compositions, the proceeds of which would go towards the MS Care Centre in Lochgilphead, Scotland. Unfortunately, due to his illness, this never came to fruition. Over the last year and a half, the Trust have been working hard to bring this idea to life and release Fraser's much anticipated tunebook, along with an album comprised of Fraser's music. In November 2015 a group of musicians gathered on Islay, to play a special memorial concert at Fraser's festival, The Islay Sessions, thus laying the groundwork for the album. In January 2016 at Celtic Connections this same group of musicians, “The Islay Sessioners” as they called themselves, performed this music as part of Islay Night, a concert that both celebrated the music and culture of Islay, and the tunes of Fraser Shaw. Continue reading...
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That's the festival over for this year already and fortunately the ferry problems have been solved, what a relief! We haven't been to as many events/distilleries as I had planned earlier, sometimes work and life gets in the way as was the case this week. We did however manage to visit Ardbeg today, it's one of our favourites, and not least because of these delicious Arbroath Smokies. The atmosphere was very nice today with good music and many familiar faces including a lot of locals. I had a feeling it was a lot busier than last year!
Gus Newman took folk out on the Sea Explorer, which is his very fast RIB, and there were plenty of excellent drams too including the new Ardbeg Kelpie! It started off a bit damp in the morning, there was even a thundery shower, but when the sun came out around noon it was glorious. We even saw an otter eating a fish, no not a Smokie, in front of warehouse one. How cool is that? It has been a very busy week for many on the island and from next week onwards it's back to normality. See you all next year when the festival will be held from Friday 25th of May to Saturday the 2nd of June. Below is a photo impression of this years Ardbeg Day. Continue reading....
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