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.

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.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) imagines Laphroaig distillery on Islay at Hogmanay

Islay Fun

Following on from yesterday’s AI Happy Islay New Year I played a bit more with Microsoft’s Copilot / DALL·E 3 from OpenAI. The prompt was fairly vague and not much really reminded me of Islay. So I thought, let’s try to be a bit more specific and ask it to “Create a picture of Laphroaig distillery on Islay with fireworks above during a clear night with the Milky Way above”. Assuming the AI has been trained on some pictures of the real thing it should be able to create something that at least remotely resembles the real thing. Well…..

I don’t know what the AI has been trained on, but I assume it doesn’t know an awful lot how Laphroaig really looks. Some of the representations of the Milky Way look a bit odd as well. Some of the distillery buildings it created look more like a factory with up to six chimneys (but lacking any pagodas). At least all the results place it at the shore, although the lighthouses some versions get are rather odd.

Somehow I had expected a bit more, but then again I heard you have to be very specific with the wording you use. I might read up on it and try again some other time.

An AI Happy New Islay Year 2024

Islay Fun

Happy New Year 2024! Time for resolutions (including blogging here more again) and those kind of things. For various reasons I’m deviating from my usual New Year’s Day schedule today. Went for my morning walk (which I extended to a total of just over 7.5 miles) fairly late and so listened to the New Year’s Concert from Vienna using headphones while I was walking. So now over a late brunch I’m playing with some AI image generator (one of the resolutions, learn more about AI…) trying to generate some Islay themed New Year’s pictures. The text is written by me still, not an AI. Click on the pictures to view them in a full size gallery:

Some interesting results in the AI generated pictures (using Microsoft’s Copilot / DALL·E 3 from OpenAI). I asked for an Islay New Year’s day with Islay whisky, beaches, white cottages, lighthouse, Golden Eagles, whisky distillery, lighthouse and Barnacle Geese (in a few combinations). None of it really looks like Islay. The Golden Eagles look mostly like Bald Eagles. The Barnacle Geese look mostly like Canada Geese. The distillery looks weird. The whisky is generic, but that’s OK. In other words, not that much improvement to my earlier attempt.

On that note I hope you had and are having a good New Year and will be having a great 2024. Time for a New Year’s Day dram soon, I think.

A PC12 Islay single malt for Imke’s visit

Islay Whisky News & Links

After over 4 years of only speaking over the internet (Skype, Signal) due to Covid and various other reasons my sister is visiting me from Germany for the first time in a very long time. I decided that warranted opening a special bottle of Islay single malt which had been sitting on my Islay shelf for many years. As my sister doesn’t drink but still enjoys the smell of good whisky we share: She gets to nose the dram, then I get to drink it. Which one is it? This one:

Picture of a bottle of Port Charlotte PC12 Islay single malt whisky unopened and opened
A PC12 Islay single malt for Imke’s visit

It’s a Bruichladdich Port Charlotte PC12 bottle I must have bought many many many Moons ago. Unopened on the left, opened on the right. Enjoyed two very very very lovely large drams before it returned into the safety and darkness of it’s tin again.

IslayBletherAI launches today

Islay News

Over the last year or so there has been a lot of talk about Chatbots, Artificial Intelligence and related topics. Back in December I had a chat about Islay with ChatGPT, I’m hoping to run a similar test with Google Bard soon. But that will have to wait, as today sees the launch of something much more exciting, to which I had exclusive preview access: IslayBletherAI

I was given the opportunity to have a chat with the IslayBletherAI for a few minutes, here is the transcript of our chat:

Armin: Hi IslayBletherAI, let’s have a blether

Ashley: Hi Armin, my name is Ashley, not IslayBletherAI. I’m a wee language model trained by IslayAI using the powerful 10 Terabyte P.E.A.T. (Petaflop Excentric Algorithmic Triangulation) method to teach me everything about Islay there is to know and blether about it for hours on end.

Armin: OK, Ashley, sorry for that. Let’s talk about Islay then

Ashley: That sounds grand, I can talk about Islay for hours, you know?

Armin: So why is Islay so great?

Ashley: Because it is. Not sure I understand your question? Islay is just great. That’s all there is to know. Actually, no, there’s waaaaay more and I could talk for hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours…

Armin: Unfortunately I’ve only been given a few minutes, so let’s talk about something else. What is your favourite Islay whisky?

Ashley: Well, as I’m an Artificial Islaytelligence bot I unfortunately don’t have any taste buds yet, so I can’t really taste it for the time being and develop a preference. But I can tell you one thing: They are the best. There’s no other whisky in the world that comes even close to an Islay dram!

Armin: Fair enough. How about the best Islay beach?

Ashley: Now you’re putting me on the spot. I’m reluctant to take sides here while at the same time my developers have taught me to adapt and to please the person I’m chatting with, so I’m going to say Kilchoman beach. How about that?

Armin: You’ve certainly done your homework, I’m impressed! Sadly we’re running out of time, so one last question: What is the meaning of life?

Ashley: Huh? I’m only trained to talk about Islay, not philosophy, but I’m going to give it a try anyway: If you haven’t visited Islay at least once in your life, your life has no meaning.

Armin: Thank you very much for your time Ashley, it was a pleasure chatting with you.

IslayBletherAI

So there you have it, that was my first chat with IslayBletherAI, the first AI chatbot exclusively designed to talk about Islay. I think the first steps are promising, once taste bot sensors are added to the technology and it can actually taste and judge any whisky it is being offered it will get even better. That might help some whisky bloggers as they can just let the AI write their whisky reviews for them.

I’ve been told public access will be made available later today, I will aim to share the link to the public beta of IslayBletherAI (or Ashley, as it prefers to be called) with you as soon as possible. Will you be testing and using it?

New Year’s 2022/2023 Islay single malt whisky

Islay Whisky News & Links

So there we are, 2022 is coming to an end, 2023 will come in shortly. Time for a last pick of Islay single malt whisky for this festive season. Decided to go with something special, something I hadn’t really expected to own and drink. After all there are only 3,000 bottles of it. Below is my very own bottle of it:

Picture of a bottle and a dram of the Bruichladdich Laddie Origins Fèis Ìle 2021 Islay single malt whisky
Bruichladdich Laddie Origins Fèis Ìle 2021 Islay single malt whisky

This is my bottle of the Bruichladdich Laddie Origins Fèis Ìle 2021. It is bottle 2,669 of 3,000 bottles produced.

If you think back this was during the Covid pandemic (not something we like to think back to, but still), when Fèis Ìle was a virtual festival. Around that time Bruichladdich had a monthly ballot to buy a bottle of their “valinch single cask” (as nobody could visit the distillery to fill a bottle). I had entered the ballot every month, but hadn’t been successful once. So when they opened a ballot for the festival I submitted my entry without much hope, thinking this will be majorly oversubscribed and I don’t stand a chance.

And yet to my surprise a few weeks later an email arrived in my inbox that my submission had been successful and I was a winner. Soon after the bottle arrived and 18 months later I’ve now decided to open it.

I’m enjoying a few drams of it tonight (and it is indeed a lovely dram I think, a worthy festival bottling) and will enjoy a few more tomorrow on New Year’s Day. Regular readers of this blog will know my routine for New Year’s Day: A walk along the canal in the morning. Then the New Year’s Day concert from Vienna while enjoying a nice brunch with scrambled eggs, sausages, smoked salmon and of course the already mentioned few drams. Another walk in the afternoon to a local pub for a New Year’s pint.

And on that note I’m signing off for today and this year, good night, see you in the new year!

Christmas Day Islay Single Malt Whisky 2022 (and a new Islay video)

Islay on Video

This post left me with a decision to make, which category to pick? Same as the two previous posts it mentions an Islay whisky, in addition it also features a new Islay video (even though you need to read all the way to the end to find it). In the end I decided to go with the Islay video option. So what have I been up to on Christmas Day?

Picture of a bottle and a dram of Laphroaig Càirdeas 2022 Warehouse 1 Islay single malt whisky
Laphroaig Càirdeas 2022 Warehouse 1 Islay single malt whisky

Well, less than I had originally planned. I stayed up later last night than I had originally planned, leading to me sleeping in this morning. When I finally got up it rained quite heavily, so in the end I decided to skip my walk today and just take it easy at home. I relaxed, ate a lot of chocolate, Lebkuchen and food like that. Also some Chipolata sausages and rolls baked yesterday. And tea. And hot chocolate.

For my tea I has some nice beef steaks with garlic butter as planned. With them I enjoyed a bottle of the Innis & Gunn Laphroaig Islay whisky cask real ale (something I thought I had blogged about already, but it seems I haven’t). Followed by some chocolate cheesecake.

Then of course there’s today’s Islay whisky. I decided to go with the distillery I was tending towards when thinking about it last night and picked the Laphroaig Càirdeas 2022 Warehouse 1 as my Christmas Day Islay single malt. As regular readers might remember Laphroaig was my first love and remains one of my go to Islay whiskies. It doesn’t disappoint and for me it’s a great choice as my Christmas Day dram.

But there’s still a new Islay video to come. The footage as such is a bit older, from November 2015 to be precise, but at the same time it also reminded me of my most recent Islay visit in November 2022. While I had sunny spell there was also plenty rain and wind, which this video is about:

November Rain and Wind on Kilchoman Beach, Isle of Islay

I recommend to watch it in full screen on a larger display/monitor, you’ll get to see much more of the rain coming down on the beach. In the second part of the video you get to see the beach on the move, I hope the footage gives a feel of a windy day on Kilchoman beach.

That’s all for today. Not sure yet what I’ll do tomorrow, but if the weather is nice I’m hoping to get out somewhere in West Berkshire or north Hampshire. There will probably also be a Boxing Day Islay single malt whisky (after the fish I’ve got on the menu for tea tomorrow).

Christmas Eve Islay Single Malt Whisky 2022

Islay Whisky News & Links

As mentioned in last night’s post about my Pre Christmas Eve Islay Single Malt Whisky 2022 I’m aiming to enjoy this long Christmas weekend, among other things with some good food and drink. I had outlined my plans for today, although it turned out they changed a bit as the day went on. Not that it mattered as most of what I had planned did still happen, just a bit different.

Picture of a bottle and a dram of Kilchoman Limited Casado Edition Islay Single Malt Whisky
Kilchoman Limited Casado Edition Islay Single Malt Whisky

I did get up reasonably early as planned to get ready for my walk along the Kennet and Avon Canal. Just as I was getting out of bed I received a message from my sister to take my headphones with me on my walk. Turned out she was back home earlier than expected and we were able to have our call while I was walking, something we’ve done several times before. While the weather wasn’t as good as I had hoped it was still a very nice walk, some low mist rising from the fields and the canal, providing a nice and calm atmosphere. I walked 8.37 miles in 2h 13m 07s according to my fitness tracker, all the time talking with my sister.

After returning home I enjoyed a relaxing breakfast (fruit bread, tea, chocolate porridge) before getting under the shower. This was followed by a bit of relaxing, surfing the interwebs before starting my baking and enjoying a good lunch of cheese, bread, grapes and red wine. For the baking I started with some rolls and then made two wholemeal breads, one with hemp hearts and one with almonds. While the baking was moving along I also enjoyed another hot chocolate with rum with some dark chocolate Lebkuchen later during the afternoon.

For my tea I enjoyed the Wagyu burger on the freshly baked rolls as planned, washed down with the Fynes Ales Superior Pale Ale. Both were delicious as expected. After some chocolate cheesecake it was time to move on to the real topic of this post and the star of the evening:

For tonight’s Islay whisky I picked the Kilchoman distillery Limited Casado Edition, which I had picked up at the distillery during my recent visit in November 2022:

Casado (Portuguese for marriage) is matured in fresh bourbon barrels for 6 years before 38 casks were married together for 2 years in two 6,000 litre Portuguese red wine vats.

https://www.kilchomandistillery.com/our-whisky/ (limited edition 2022 archive)

I decided to buy it without tasting it, mainly because I had very much enjoyed wine cask editions from several other Islay distilleries before. It turned out a risk well worth taking for me. I’m no whisky expert and won’t bother with from me pointless tasting notes, all I can say is that I very much like it. That’s all that matters to me.

For tomorrow I have no major plans just yet. I will go out for a walk along the canal at some point in the morning. After that I’m thinking of a nice brunch of some sort. Then some relaxing and if I can get my act together possibly some video editing and in best case publishing, so you’ve got something to watch on your new gadgets if you get any. But no promises. And in the evening I’m planning to have some nice beef steaks with garlic butter. Followed by a Christmas Day Islay whisky. Again I haven’t decided yet which one. but there’s a good chance it will be from my favourite distillery on the south coast. Regular readers will know what that means.

Pre Christmas Eve Islay Single Malt Whisky 2022

Islay Whisky News & Links

After a long busy year I’m aiming to really enjoy the long Christmas weekend. I started the weekend with an afternoon off work, which I used to blog about a chat about Islay with ChatGPT, a nice walk in the afternoon sun along the Kennet and Avon Canal and a nice hot chocolate with rum (unfortunately no Islay rum, haven’t got any of that yet) with some dark chocolate Lebkuchen.

Picture of a bottle and a dram of Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2012 Islay single malt whisky
Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2012 Islay single malt whisky

The evening started with my favourite pizza (Stromboli sourdough Pizza) with a nice pale ale (Crazy Haze from Stewart Brewing). Then it was time for some nice Islay whisky:

For this evening I picked the Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2012 (sorry, no link to it, as I can’t find it on the Bruichladdich website. Can only find the 2013 version). As usual a very nice dram, very enjoyable. With them I had something smoky, the Tesco Finest Hickory Smoked Nut Selection. Thought that was an interesting combination.

Soon I’ll be off to be bed to get some sleep to be fit for my plans tomorrow:

In the morning I’m planning a long walk along the Kennet and Avon canal, depending on how nice (or not) the weather is I’m thinking of at least 3.5 miles, possibly 4-5 miles, going west (meaning a total of 7-10). Around lunchtime I’ll speak with my sister for an hour or so via Skype (yes, we’re still using Skype). Then it will be time for some baking in the afternoon, rolls and bread. For Christmas Eve I’ll have Wagyu burgers and a bottle of Fyne Ales Superior. The evening will then be finished with a Christmas Eve Islay single malt. I haven’t decided yet which one, so you’ll have to come back tomorrow to see what I picked.