The dark days before Christmas are here so now is a good time to start thinking about Christmas presents! Before you rush off to Amazon and the likes you might want to consider doing some of your Online Christmas shopping on Islay and support the local businesses as there is plenty of choice, as you can see on our online shops on Islay page.
But there is more. The Islay Celtic Craft shop in Portnahaven also sell their items online through Ebay and you can find a wide selection of Islay and Celtic related items. For an overview visit their Ebay page. Jane Taylor's beautiful whisky prints can also be purchased online and if children's books are your thing you must visit the website of Ailsa Press, they have some lovely children's books.
Since early 2017 we also sell our own photos online through our new business Island Light Photography. All the photos on Islay Info, on our popular Facebook page and many many more can be purchased as canvases or prints and can be mounted or framed. If folk on Islay order framed prints we have it professionally done by Islay Studios. You can also download the file and have it printed with your local print shop. For more info see www.islay.photos. We also sell our mounted prints at the Blue Letter Box in Port Ellen.
You can find a wide range of whisky soaps, special gift packs, creams, scenting candles, balms and other bathing and personal care products on the www.spiritedsoaps.com website and for those of you with a sweet tooth I can recommend the Islay tablet shop. The attractive online Islay Shop is another great place where you can find a nice collection of gifts such as Jewellery, calendars, t-shirts and whisky gifts. Continue reading...
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West coast ferry operator CalMac has issued a weather warning in the face of Storm Caroline hitting its area of operations tomorrow (December 7). It is likely that severe disruption will affect a significant number of routes and several sailings have already been cancelled as winds of up to 80mph have been forecast. Tomorrow mornings Islay sailings have already been cancelled and it's likely that the remaining sailings will be cancelled as well. The Met Office has issued a yellow warning "be aware" warning for Scotland between 08:00 and 23:55 on Thursday.
CalMac’s Commercial Director Graeme Macfarlan said: "With Storm Caroline expected to see winds gusting to 70 mph across the north of Scotland tomorrow disruption to ferry services is a high possibility. We would urge passengers who need to travel, to allow extra time for their journey and to keep track of the status of their sailing on the website before setting out on their journey.
With the beginning of the stormy season we'd like to point out our comprehensive article in which we cover everything you need to know about ferry cancellations, how to stay up to date on disruptions and what your rights as passenger are. For more info visit our article How to Check if your Ferry to Islay is Sailing
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For anyone who has plans for a career change, and a move to Islay if you don't live here yet, the following might be of interest. After 29 years of owning the village shop, Post Office and petrol pumps in Port Charlotte, Clive and Sharon Monks have decided to move from Islay and live closer to their family. This means that the Village Store with Post Office in Port Charlotte is now for sale.
Cornerstone Business Agents who are selling it on behalf of the owners commented: “This is a genuine opportunity to own and run a prosperous business with the benefit of a three bedroomed owner’s accommodation above.” So for anyone who is looking for something new, a possible move to Islay, and with £330,000 to spare, this could be the chance of a lifetime. More information is available through this link
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The weekend of 11 and 12 November saw the first tranche of trees being planted for the WW100 Commemorative Woodland. Almost 1,400 trees were planted this weekend by around 100 volunteers. The planting took place opposite the War Memorial near Bruichladdich, at the Coultorsay Road End. The wood will be a fitting tribute to all the men and women who left our communities from 1914 and also the American servicemen and crew from the SS Tuscania and HMS Otranto who were buried on Islay almost 100 years ago. This project is supported by the Woodlands Trust Scotland, Bruichladdich Distillery, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Islay Energy Community Benefit Fund.
Over 30 locations have been selected for inclusion in the WW100 Trail across Islay and Jura. On the trail will be locations and buildings which played a role or are connected with WW1 across the two islands. These will be marked by bronze plaques the design of which is progressing with the key aims of simplicity, durability and elegance emphasising our intention of ‘Remembrance and Reconciliation’. The Trail will also be supported by a guide book and website which will include work by each of the schools.
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A fabulous day today on Islay. Apart from a few nasty showers with hail, snow and rain it was a great day to go out, take some photos, and enjoy the wintry conditions which were mostly visible on the hills as overnight snowfall. We're in the middle of a rather cold spell with daytime temps around 3 Degr and around freezing point at night.
Wintry Conditions Ardnahoe Distillery
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These are dangerous times on Islay for your car, motorbike or even bicycle. The condition of most of Islay's roads is not great and some single track roads are almost too bad to drive on. The roads from Loch Gruinart to Ardnave and Killinallan have degraded to a state that the word road is no longer applicable. The last few hundred metres to the Gruinart RSPB reserve from Bridgend is very bad as well. And only a few days ago when I was heading for Kilchoman Beach I noticed that this road is now in a terrible state as well. I've seen hardly any signs of structural maintenance on the roads this year, apart from the low road, other than filling potholes. And with the council budget under severe pressure it will get even worse!
In a letter in the Ileach the community council wrote: “Islay’s roads and passing places are deteriorating at an alarming rate, and comes as a result of having so many lorries and commercial vehicles travelling on the island,” explained Community Council Chairman, Islay McEachern. And yet, rather than spending the funds necessary to bring them back to an functioning standard, the roads’ budget is now half of what it was three years ago“. Argyll and Bute Council has shared figures with the community council which show that from 2014-15 until this year, their spending on our roads has been reduced by 50% - from £988,498 to £494,904 - due to budget cuts”. Continue reading....
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It's been a while since I posted a video here, in fact, it's been a while since I've posted anything at all. What seemed to be quiet island life before we moved here, turned out to become a very busy life with both web design and photography keeping me very occupied. Time to make up for that today as Kilchoman Distillery have recently started a Youtube channel and posted a few very nice videos with shots of the distillery and the surrounding area including Kilchoman beach, the barley field and harvest and a lot more.
The first video is about the distillery: "From the birth of Kilchoman our 100% Islay philosophy was our reason for being; it represents the revival of farm distilled single malt produced at a single location from barley to bottle, where the responsibility for quality and consistency at each stage is not outsourced but completed on site with skill, care and attention to detail. We are proud to be the only distillery crafting single malt from barley both grown and malted on Islay, not to mention distilling, maturing and bottling here at Kilchoman as well."
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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 hundred 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 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...
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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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