Tag Archives: Bruichladdich

Feis Ile 2016

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The secret fishermen pools near Port Ellen, Islay

Nick Morgan serenaded us with a whimsical rendition of ‘Riders in the storm’. The Paps of Jura broke through wispy clouds across the Sound of Ila. A festival edition of Caol Ila in hand. How extraordinary. Even more impressive was the Australian gentleman in the crowd who had made the pilgrimage every year for the last eight years…such is the pull of Feis Ile.

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Lagavulin Day in the distillery’s 200th year
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Cooperage demonstration, Lagavulin Distillery

My first ever Islay whisky festival coincided with the 200th anniversary of Lagavulin. A 3 hour queue for the festival bottling was avoided. I made a promise to myself not to get caught up in the buying frenzy and to instead focus on soaking up the atmosphere of this very special occasion. I loved the cooperage display and speaking to enthusiasts from all over the world. So many good stories and so many happy faces. The drams flowed freely from the distillery but also amongst the whisky geeks. Sample bottles emerged from clunking bags and eyebrows raised with interest at each new arrival.

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The Yellow Submarine arrives at Bruichladdich!

At Bruichladdich, the locals came out in force. We were treated to a wonderful performance from the pipeband and a dram of ‘Yellow Submarine’. I took an impromptu tour of the distillery and got acquainted with ‘Ugly Betty’, the Lomond still used for The Botanist gin. The highlight of the day was sampling a 23 year old rare malt Port Ellen which appeared out of nowhere from a friend of a friend. Serendipity and the stuff you can’t plan is the part I enjoy the most about these gatherings of the faithful!

With hitch-hiking proving to be the best way around the island, I headed for Port Ellen maltings. A fascinating peek at the inside of drum maltings and the wonderful smell of peat smoke roaring through the kilns. It proved to be a welcome addition to the distillery events and added an element of  education to the festival experience.

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Beautiful Islay, Port Ellen

I wish I could have stayed for the full eight days but a four day trip had to suffice. I have no doubt I will be back as Islay is whisky Mecca and the Feis Ile is whisky Hajj. To all the Ilachs dedicated to organising such a remarkable festival, I raise a dram to you.  Lang may yer lum reek Feis Ile!

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Camping whisky enthusiasts

Scenic Scotch No.5 – Bruichladdich Links on the Old Course

Bruichladdich Links in its natural surroundings
Bruichladdich Links in its natural surroundings

When I was given the gift of a miniature ‘Bruichladdich Links’, festooned with an image of the Old Course at St. Andrews, I knew there was only one place to go to enjoy this delightful dram. The majestic view of the famous 18th hole leading up to the Royal & Ancient Clubhouse had me reminiscing of the great moments that have graced the home of golf. Tiger Woods clinching his inaugural grand slam here in 2000 and Jack Nicklaus (two-time winner at the Old Course in 1970 and 1978) standing on the Swilcan bridge waving goodbye to the rapturous Open crowds for the last time in 2005.

Jack Nicklaus's iconic moment
Jack Nicklaus’s iconic moment

The feeling of such history and grandeur imparts a majestic quality to a walk around the Old Course. Therefore, I was grateful that a wee Bruicladdich Links had led me on this journey. Furthermore, the spirit within kept me warm as the long shadows of the winter sun began to fade. As I enjoyed the whisky I noticed citrus fruits, especially lemon and orange peel, followed by salty sea spray and peat smoke. The salt character mingled well with the sea air which whispered over the undulating fairways. A lovely dram in lovely surroundings.

The last task was to replicate the image on the miniature. With a bit of survey work and favourable light at dusk, I snapped the following image….

Replicating the glorious scence as depicted on the bottle
Replicating the glorious scene as depicted on the bottle

When I watch The 2015 Open Championship in St Andrews this summer I will have fond memories of a Bruichladdich Links on the Old Course. For more information please visit: http://www.theopen.com/

If you would like to contribute an image of a scenic scotch in your part of the world please submit to scenicscotch@gmail.com and I’ll get it posted.