Once more to the Islay Whisky festival….
Our 6th year in a row …..who said they weren’t coming back after the first year ????
Saturday 26th May
Another early , 4.10am , but we made good time up to the ferry , nice quiet roads just a shame about the odd showers we kept on hitting . Met up with Martin from the wednesday chat at the ferry terminal and Robin Laing on board . We had something a bit different on the journey over , a band playing in the bar !
The trouble is Calmac have set a precedent now….
Celtic Spirit ( a rock-n-roll bag pipe band….) treat us to a short set including We Will Rock You and Yellow Submarine ! Highly entertaining ! They will be preforming at Laddie Tomorrow ( Sorry about the poor quality photo only had Camera phone at hand .
Got Settled down in the Stable Cottage and went for something to eat at The White Hart where we bumped into some old Festival Friends . A good start to the festival , now onto Laddie Day……..
Sunday 27th May
Bruichladdich Day ….
Well it’s Bruichladdich day and Surprise , Surprise it was glorious sunshine ! Spots of rain in the morning , bit breezy but glorious Sunshine !!!! Didn’t get to cutting ceremony at Port Charlotte , we always get a taxi to Laddie and it would have been a bit awkward getting back to Bruichladdich . Things kicked off at 1pm due to the festivities up the road, first up was the Festival Valinch , a Port Charlotte (Cask 007, Distilled 28/05/01 , 61.5% ) . Then it was off to The highlight of the afternoon , Jims Masterclass , another highly entertaining afternoon with a superb selection of whiskies. For the first time it was a McEwan Double act that hosted the Masterclass , Jim was joined by daughter Lynn . We also had a BBC camera crew present and a wee musically breaks provided by amongst others Robin Laing . It was also the opening of the new vatting facility (the Vatican as Jim called it ) , the first cask was ceremonially emptied into the system by the chairman of Bruichladdich .
(Click on the photos to see full size version)
- Malt No.1 – Bruichladdich 6yo
- Malt No.2 – 15yo 2nd Edition
- Malt No.3 – X4 10.5 month Old
- Malt No.4 – Legacy 6
- Malt No.5 – Redder Still
- Malt No.6 – Octomore 2003
The 6yo Laddie was the first produced by the company in 2001 , slightly peated, sea air , green fruits , extremely fruity when water was added , a long finish with peat smoke . The 15yo was Mels Favourite , this one reminded me a bit of a Bunnahabhain , Edinburgh rock with dark fruits .
To say that No.3 was a show stopper was an understatement , from a bloodtub at 78.4% , sherry , vanilla and so , so , smooth . Bloody Hell it was good ! No.4 is the last ever Legacy , made up from a 1965 Bourbon , a 1970 Bourbon and a 1972 Sherry Cask , it was my favourite (i love old Laddie ) , Classic Laddie !
Next up was the follow up to The Blacker Still , The Redder Still ! Made up of 1984 Laddie finished in another wine cask , Can’t remember which , it was a very good whisky . Last up was some 2003 Octomore (the really heavily peated stuff) , all i can say is a smooth PEATY dram , lovely stuff . At the end of the masterclass we were shown the new style warehouse 12 , for a racked system we were pretty impressed , they are certainly putting their money where their mouths is . Outside lots of mingling with friends , the usual abuse from Richard Joynson and more music from various artists including Robin again . A good day was had by all !
Monday 28th May
A Day in Port Ellen….
Today was a fairly easy day as everything we were attending was in walking distance of our base for the festival . First off was the Port Ellen Maltings Masterclass . We were given a brief tour of the Maltings to begin with , right from the steeps to the kiln , we then moved on to the engineering department (part of the original Distillery) to get talked through the history of the maltings , the finer points of malting , what exactly happens and how a Bag of Chocolate Eclairs and Marsh Mallows can explain what happens to a grain of Barley in the process ! After Peter Campbell had given us a 6th edition Port Ellen (which i must say is probably the best of the annual editions i’ve had ) , we headed back to the main buiding for more drams and a bite to eat . Here i met up with 3 participants of the sites forum , Rene , Michael and Matt , Eventually we ended up back at Tigh Cargaman for a few drams and a natter .
After the guys left and we had something to eat we headed along to Ramsey Hall for the Nosing Competition , this was the second year we’d attended this and we certainly hoped we’d do better than the “failed Miserably” of last year . A fairly sucessful score of 3 out of 10 on the night (unless you’ve done it don’t laugh , it’s bloody hard!) , at least i identified the Ardbeg , the Lagavulin and the Jura (smell give it away…….) .
Tuesday 29th May
A Warehouse tour with John ….
So onto Tuesday , after a quick trip to Bruichladdich to pick up a couple of Valinches i couldn’t get on Sunday it was off to the event we’d been looking forward to since last years , John (Mac lellans) Warehouse and Maturation Tour !
Once again John did not disappoint ! Great patter , fantastic stories and outstanding drams …..
- 4yo from a 2003 from a Sherry cask
- 1971 (sister cask to the 125th anniversary bottling casks)
- 10yo 1997 Moine
The 4yo was really mature for it’s age , very balanced between the sherry and the Bunnahabhain taste (Mels Favourite of the tour ) . The 1977 was an exceptional dram , Edinburgh Rock , maritime air . The 71 was amazing , everything you want from a Bunny and more , so smooth again maritimey and one of them drams where you could just have stood for an age in the warehouse smelling it , savouring every taste . Last up we revisited the Moine , boy is this getting better with age ! smooth and peaty and an amazing Chocolate taste , Delicious ! The 71 was my favourite ( release more at a slightly cheaper price please !) , another wonderful afternoon with John , looking forward to the next one already !!!!
After such a delight of malts we headed off to The Port Charlotte Hotel for a bite to eat ( Wouldn’t have done the day justice to have eaten anywhere else …..) .
Wednesday 30th May
Well we’ve set something of a record this trip , it’s took us till Wednesday to get to the Old Kiln cafe to see Jackie and the girls ! We had lunch and even managed to force down a dram of Ardbeg Mor that was forced into our hands ! After Lunch , avoiding the BBC camera crew , We then went off on the Ardbeg Managers tour , this was the first chance we had to meet Mickey (Heads) the new manager . He’s a really nice guy , great sense of humour , very knowledgable about his job and we thoroughly enjoyed his tour , a great way to spend a lovely sunny Islay afternoon . We even got to try a few drams an Almost There , another Mor , an Uigeadail and an 8yo from a toasted cask . We also managed to pick up a wee dram as well………
Thursday 31st May
A Quiet day….
This was our only quiet day of the festival so we headed off for a nice drive down the Rhinns on a lovely sunny day!
We stopped for lunch at the “An Tigh Seinnse” in Portnahaven , We had a gorgeous bowl of Homemade Portnahaven Crab Soup with Garlic Bread . I also got to try The Bunnahabhain Festival bottling while there and it turned out to be another stunning Bunny Bottling , after lunch we headed back up the coastal road back to Port Charlotte . We then went for a drive over the Mulindry Road and eventually headed back to Port Ellen for a quiet night in packing our stuff up ready for the Morning Ferry .
Friday 1st June
Homeward Bound ….
So we bid farewell to The Feis Ile on the 9.45am ferry from Port Ellen . Another glorious week with superb weather but we shall once again return to the Feis Ile (next year !) .
On the way back we stopped off at Inveraray for lunch at The George and paid Richard a quick visit at LFW before heading off home …….