Whisky Magazine Issue 47
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The Islay festival starts on May 27th. We decided to host a pre-festival dinner on the island and invited all the distilleries. Dominic Roskrow reports
On the face of it spending March 17th – St Patrick's Day – on the Scottish island of Islay isn't the most obvious thing to do. But there is some method in such madness. For while the Emerald isle is no doubt downing the Jameson's in honour of its national saint and adopted Englishman, Islay has its own Irish link to celebrate.
Just today the first international vatted whisky – a mix of Irish and product from local distillery Bunnababhain – has gone on sale, building a whisky bridge across the nine miles between the two countries. Ireland and west Scotland share much in the way of language and culture. And later this year the pillaging malts cruise – that madcap charity event when the island's rowers brave the currents and tides to circumvent the island collecting whisky – will make a detour to visit Bushmill's across the water.
In fact never have the two islands been so close, and judging by the bar at Glasgow Airport, where bottles of Black Bush are being passed around and some early afternoon singing is breaking out, getting closer by the minute.
If being on Islay is one of life's great pleasures, the anticipation as you travel to it takes some beating, too. The ferry journey, sweet relief after the tedious hours spent on the roads down to Tarbert, can bring the visitor in past the three great southern distilleries of Lagavulin, Laphroaig and Ardbeg.
The plane journey is a hop and a skip from Glasgow and on a clear day you can marvel at the mass of peat, sc...