Islay April Fools 2024

Islay Fun

OK, I assume most or even all of you have figured out that the Islay Space Port news was this year’s April Fools. After all April Fools has a long tradition on this blog. I didn’t spot any other ones on other websites or blogs (if I missed any Islay related one please let me know) but noticed a few on social media:

I hope you enjoyed this year’s efforts, if I missed any publicly accessible Islay related ones please let me know and I’ll aim to add them to the list here. Let’s what we can come up with next year.

Islay Space Port to open in 2024

Islay News

Some amazing news from Islay this morning: After some long and secret negotiations I can reveal that an Islay Space Port is expected to open in late 2024. Scotland has long been the prime location for the development of spaceports, now Islay is joining this effort to establish Scotland on the forefront of space exploration.

Picture of a Space Shuttle lifting off next to a whisky distillery
Artist’s impression of the Islay Space Port

This development will create many highly qualified jobs on Islay. It is expected that Islay High School will create some specialised courses leading to space engineering degrees at Glasgow University. I understand the space port will be located on the south coast of Islay (I believe between Lagavulin and Ardbeg) and some of the Islay distilleries will contribute to the specialised rocket fuel.

What do you think? Is this an exciting and positive development for Islay? Or is this too much and will put further strain on ferry capacities?

My Islay Easter dram 2024

Islay Fun

Happy Easter! Enjoying a nice Easter weekend in West Berkshire despite some changeable weather. Got some baking done, had a nice long chat with my sister while out on a long walk along the canal, kicked off a photography experiment/learning experience I’m hoping to apply to some Islay pictures at some point, those kind of things. And of course I’m enjoying an Islay Easter dram.

Picture of a bottle of Bunnahabhain Islay single malt whisky with a glass of it, also some chocolate Easter eggs
My Islay Easter dram 2024

This is the Bunnahabhain 2013 Banyuls Cask Finish I picked up during my last visit in November 2023. I had originally planned to open this at Christmas, but for various reasons that didn’t happen. So I pushed it out to this Easter and am very much enjoying it now, with some dark chocolate Easter eggs (of both the hollow and solid variety).

I hope you’re having a nice Easter as well, maybe with a good Islay whisky.

This Is Islay asks: What Makes Someone an Ileach?

Islay News

During my walk this morning I finally managed to catch up on some podcast listening, specifically the This is Islay podcast. In the latest episode it raises an interesting and to an extent controversial question: What Makes Someone an Ileach? For some it’s a very narrow definition, for them you have to be born and bred on Islay. Others draw the line far wider and make your connection and integration to the community their criteria.

This Is Islay: What Makes Someone An Ileach?

With most babies being born in Paisley these days instead of on Islay the narrow definition might become challenging in the future. In the podcast they also raise the question of siblings where one was lucky enough to be born on Islay while the other was born in Paisley even if they returned to Islay the next day. Otherwise they both have the same upbringing on Islay. Does that make the latter a lesser Ileach?

A topic that can probably be debated for hours, the podcast is planning to return to it in upcoming episodes.

On a slightly personal note there might be an even narrower definition which could be used: I was born and grew up in Bremen, Germany (although I haven’t lived there for over 30 years now and haven’t been for 7 years). I was very close to be a “Tagenbaren” (or “tagenbarer Bremer”), which is someone born and grown up in Bremen where not only both parents but also all grandparents were born in Bremen. I failed the criteria on account of one of my grandmothers.

Beautiful new tune by an artist I discovered through the Islay Sessions

Islay Music

OK, I have to stretch a little bit for the Islay link here, but when deciding whether to share it on my personal blog or here I felt it fits here. After all like quite a few of the artists I listen to I discovered Brìghde Chaimbeul through the Islay Sessions, where she performed a few years back. A beautiful new tune played on Scottish Smallpipes:

Brìghde Chaimbeul – Banish The Giant of Doubt & Despair

I’m not sure where the video was filmed, although I believe on Skye, where Brìghde and Beth (the dancer) are from. I hope to get to hear and see Brìghde performing again, ideally on Islay, but also elsewhere. If you have the opportunity to see her go for it.

Nice drone video of Kilchoman beach, Islay

Islay on Video

Friday evening, time to sit back, pour a wee dram of Islay single malt whisky and enjoy an Islay beach video. Here’s one of Kilchoman beach in Machir Bay on the west coast of Islay I’ve just found:

Machir Bay Isle of Islay Scotland #scotland #machirbay #islay #beach #awesome

It’s only a short video, but you can just watch it several times on a loop while enjoying your whisky?

Reopening of Islay’s Port Ellen distillery receives a lot of press coverage

Islay Whisky News & Links

As was to be expected the reopening of one of Islay’s (not) lost (any more) distilleries received quite a lot of media attention. After a lot of work Port Ellen distillery is back in business, looking quite fancy in parts. They are quite similar to an extent (at least partially based on a press release I’d assume), but here are a few press mentions:

Those are the main ones I came across, there were more….

Video of the launch of the MV Isle of Islay

Islay News

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I completed my first crossing to Islay on the MV Finlaggan, but then again that was back in June 2011, over a decade ago. Later this year and early next year Islay is scheduled to receive two new ferries, the MV Isle of Islay and the MV Loch Indaal, both being built in Turkey as of writing this. Earlier this week the MV Isle of Islay was launched and this morning I came across a short video from the launch by Scott Smith:

MV Isle of Islay launch at Cemre

Looking great, hope to see her in action later this year or early next year. The BBC also has a report with further video footage: Islay Turkish-built CalMac ferry successfully launched.

Ruth Aisling visits Islay’s neighbour Gigha

Gigha Excursions

Last year, in June 2023 to be precise, I spent a few very nice days on Islay’s neighbour Gigha. You can find some pictures of Gigha on my photoblog from this visit and previous day trips. Ruth on her campervan trips around Scotland also visited Gigha, I believe in August 2023. Here is her report:

The Scottish Island Owned By The Community | Gigha

Brought back some nice memories from my visit for me, I hope you enjoyed Ruth’s video and it maybe inspired you to visit as well. Oh, and Ruth has been to Islay and Jura as well, but that’s for another time.

A great tour around Islay with a drone video

Islay on Video

And he’s done it again. Stuart has put out another great Islay from the air video, mostly filmed during his travels around the island as a taxi driver. This one is a compilation of views from pretty much all over the island, some during the day, some during sunset and you even get to see a rare snowy landscape:

Islay in all its glory 4K drone footage

A very enjoyable 5 minutes, I hope you enjoyed the video as much as me or even more. I’m sure there will be more to share over the coming months and years.