Feis Ile Draws Near; Revamp for Tiree; R&B Campbeltown; Glenglassaugh Supports the Boats

Hello everyone

A quiet month end as there are some new samples awaited and you may have seen most of the last couple of weeks‘ news in any drinks trade feeds you get. However, a few points worth noting. The first is that R&B Distillers who own the Isle of Raasay Distillery do now have the planning permission for their Campbeltown distillery that I wrote about some months back. The site is actually not in the town but near Campbeltown and will be known as Machrihanish Distillery ( artist impression here). It will be a farm-to-bottle operation and also net zero. As on Raasay, there will be a shop and visitor centre bringing even more jobs to the area. I was recently catching up with a BBC Scotland series called Scotland‘s Greatest Escape about the best places to stay around Scotland in various categories. Isle of Raasay Distillery had entered the Foodie category with their distillery hotel and restaurant, Borodale House. Sadly, they were just pipped for that episode‘s win by an establishment in Fife but it was a close run and I reckon I‘d prefer this one. You can catch the series on BBC iPlayer or their website if you have access. I still have a few episodes to watch so am trying to avoid seeing any mentions of the final winner. As it happens, several of the places in this series are near distilleries so you can pick up some good tips on places to stay. Not all of them for the budget conscious, though but some cheaper than expected, especially if you‘re part of a friend/family group.

The guys at Isle of Tiree Distillery haven‘t been entering any accommodation / food competitions but they were busy earlier this spring doing up their retail space at the distillery. It does look smart (see pic here) and will be even more so when they have their own whisky to add in to the shelves but that won‘t be until 2025. It‘s coming along nicely – I‘ve been allowed to try it as an immature spirit. Maybe, like Isle of Raasay, they should become accomodation providers too, if attracting more visitors to Tiree. One of the things you may not know is the Highland midgie (our native mosquito-type insect) is less of an issue on Tiree due to the climate there so it can be a far more pleasant stay than on Skye if biting beasties are fond of you. For now, the focus at the distillery shop is on gin sales. I used their Tyrie Gin (yes, that is the spelling used) at a gin tasting I did recently for a branch of University of the 3rd Age in Fife and it was very well received as, indeed, were the Ceann Loch Gin from Kintyre Gin and Beefeater 24.

It‘s nearly Feis Ile time again and, as I‘m doing another whisky dinner at The Port Charlotte Hotel this year, I‘m currently agonising over whisky matches for the various courses again. It never gets any easier or less stressful no matter how long you do these things as you‘re always keen to get the best match. Sometimes the expression I might want from a particular distillery isn‘t available so we start again from scratch. The chef has come up with another fine menu with plenty to challenge my whisky choices. Just recently Lagavulin and Caol Ila have announced their musical and food offerings for their respective days during Feis Ile and all sound to be a geat experience. Food and drinks are, …“home-made pies from Pie Hole, fresh oysters from Oyster Shed sourced from Islay waters, or Neapolitan inspired pizza from Edinburgh’s Pizza Geeks. Alongside Caol Ila and Lagavulin bars serving up whisky cocktails, drams and non-alcoholic options, artisan coffee roasters, Machina Coffee will also be on-site with a range of coffee and hot drinks.“ Quite the food and drink extravaganza. Find out more at https://www.malts.com/en-row/distilleries/caol-ila/events and https://www.malts.com/en-row/distilleries/lagavulin/events (if you can‘t get in to any of their events and you are there in Feis week, you can go along for the atmosphere and maybe join in the food/drink experience though that may also need an entry ticket).

Similarly the music at Bruichladdich looks to be impressive and varied on their day (Sunday) and during the week. Unfortunately, I‘m not there on any of the Feis days for these distilleries. Same with Ardbeg who are being as delightfully creative as ever with their circus themed Feis event and their special bottling has been announced as Ardbeg Spectacular, their first ever matured entirely in port casks. Kilchoman also has its Feis bottling covered – bourbon wood matured and unpeated. I‘d like to get hold of both of those. Ardbeg bottle sales opened online but I haven‘t yet done anything about it. Bunnahabhain has three special bottlings ranging in age from 14 – 23 years old and from £120 – £400 per bottle. No word from Laphroaig or Bowmore as yet and none of my messages from Bruichladdich contains Feis bottle details. In terms of events you‘ll find them on all the distillery websites but many are now sold out unless they decide to add in extras.

If you‘re a fan of boats and the sea why not head to our north east corner in June where Glenglassaugh Highland Single Malt, „… has come on board as headline sponsor of the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival, which takes place on Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd June.They go on to say, Nestled on the shores of Sandend Bay, just two miles from Portsoy where the boat festival is held, the brand has pledged its support for the event for the next two years. 

The festival, which marks its 31st anniversary this year, welcomes a flotilla of heritage vessels for a weekend of live music and dance, Scottish food and drink and age-old crafts, celebrating the north east’s nautical past, welcoming over 12 thousand visitors each year.  Stewart Buchanan, Global Brand Ambassador Glenglassaugh Distillery, said: Glenglassaugh’s spirit is, and always has been, inspired by the truly unique coastal location on the rugged north east, where our warehouses stand against the elements. This is a truly fitting partnership, not least as one of our releases is named Portsoy after the distillery’s neighbouring seaside town. Also because it was the home of our founder James Moir, a local businessman, and Portsoy Harbour Committee who established the distillery in 1875.“

As mentioned at the top, a few samples are awaited and amongst them are Kilchoman Loch Gorm 2024 and Label 5‘s new Single Grain whisky, Bourbon Barrel. Looking forward to both of those and will cover them mid-May if they arrive in time. Ditto for the new Cu Bocan from Tomatin Distillery. One from Torabhaig was meant to arrive this month as notified by their comms agency but it never turned up so it‘s either lost/broken in transit or stolen somewhere along the line. Always a risk!

Anyway, I‘ll be back mid-May hopefully having tasted some recent releases. Till then, happy dramming.

Slainte mhath,



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