Monday, May 28, 2018

Fèis Ìle 2018 - The Anticipation

Watch out Islay, here we come ...

The annual Fèis Ìle is upon us again. The world descends on the famous whisky producing Hebredian island of Islay for a week of events, whisky and music. Matt is amongst them and will be reporting back at various points during the week.

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This will be my fourth visit to Islay and my second to the Fèis Ìle. I am lucky in that the world of whisky takes me on numerous trips to numerous distilleries, but few compare to Islay. The island is a true Mecca for whisky lovers and they visit in their thousands for this one week of malt and music.

Each of Islay's eight distilleries, plus Jura, have their own day in the sun and host a special open day for the public. This involves a variety of events, one-off tastings and tours and limited edition bottlings from each. Many of these bottles are highly sought after and become very collectable.

To say that I am excited is an understatement. When invited by The Whisky Lounge to help them with a series of events that they are hosting during the week, the answer was an instant 'yes' followed by a later 'please' as I temporarily forgot any manners. My other whisky work has kept me busy and unable to think about Islay too much, but now it is here and the anticipation is building.

There are numerous events that I am looking forward to. None less so than the opportunity to host a whisky tasting with The Whisky Lounge on a historic ship as it sails out of Port Ellen harbour and out to sea. This is despite not having any sea legs to speak of. There are a series of these tastings running throughout the week and tickets are still available (unbelievably) - click here if you are interested in joining us.

All aboard the good ship Irene for whisky tastings.

Other highlights will undoubtedly be the visits to distilleries, all of which are iconic and situated in stunning locations. Each has its own character with most nestled in rugged and inaccessable landscape.As I discovered last year, it also presents a great opportunity to meet some of the people that make the distilleries and assoicated brands tick.

One that I look forward to particularly is a visit that I have arranged to the new Ardnahoe distillery, which will be Islay's ninth. It is not quite ready for visitors during the festival but I have been granted access to have a look. The distillery is an exciting development for the island and just had the foundations and some landscaping down when we drove passed last year. Watch out for some pictures and thoughts later in the week.

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Bruichladdich from the air.

I write this second part having now arrived on the island. The flight over was noisy (that's propeller planes for you) but superb and clear. We flew right over the Campbeltown peninsula, Jura and the centre of Islay and Loch Indaal including a brief glimpse of the Bruichladdich distillery from the air.

Within half an hour of landing, I was thrust in to the throng of their open day, widely regarded as one of the best of the festival, and which had been going on for most of the day. There was much merriment and some excellent music on show. What a great way to get in to the swing of the Fèis Ìle 2018 ...

- Matt.

Down on the ground at Bruichladdich.