20 years Friend of Laphroaig

Islay Whisky News & LinksThis is a post I wanted to write almost a month ago, unfortunately then my leg injury got in the way. Recovery is now well under way (this morning I walked 3 kilometres in I think just over half an hour) and I think I can allow myself a wee dram tonight. With that over to the real topic, one of the many factors which brought me to Islay and made me fall in love with it:

Scan of Armin Grewe's Friends of Laphroaig certificate
My original Friends of Laphroaig certificate from March 1998, a few months before I first set foot on Islay in August 1998

Earlier this year I came across my original Friends of Laphroaig certificate. I bought my first bottle of Laphroaig whisky (the standard 10yo, an expression I still enjoy regularly) in early 1998 and duly sent in my claim for my square foot of Islay. A few weeks later my certificate arrived. Iain Henderson was the distillery manager back then (he retired in 2002), so it is signed by him.

A few months later, on a rather wet August morning, I arrived on Islay for my first visit. The first distillery I visited was of course Laphroaig. There was no visitor centre back then, as far as I can remember I found the way to the reception where someone welcomed me and found a miniature bottle for my annual rent for me.

All of this is now 20 years ago (or will soon be), so with a month delay I’m going to open a bottle of Laphroaig Cairdeas tonight for a wee dram to celebrate being a Friend of Laphroaig for 20 years.

Islayschki Vodka to be launched

Islay NewsWhisky and gin are already well established on Islay and Jura, there are also plans to distil rum on Islay. Not to forget Islay Ales being brewed in Bridgend. Now efforts are underway to add another spirit to this portfolio, vodka to be precise:

Label for Islayschki Vodka

Following Roman Abramovich’s Islay visit a few years ago there will now also be Islay vodka, to be called Islayschki Vodka. The vodka will be distilled in a new purpose-built distillery near Port Ellen. From what I understand the distillery will be a joint venture by a Russian conglomerate and a Scottish spirit merchant.

Not much is known about the taste profile yet, but I understand it will be a fusion of continental freshness and Islay’s maritime salty influences. While it is mainly to be enjoyed neat it can also be used in cocktails and mixed with other drinks.

Will you try the new Islayschki Vodka?

Laphroaig Islay distillery storyboards

Islay FunIs it art? Or is it just some computer generated images? Back in December I came across Google’s Storyboard app for Android (don’t know if there’s an iPhone equivalent), it turns videos into short comics. There are no settings, all you can do is to refresh to generate a new image. You can do this until you get one you like, which you can then save. Of course I had to test it with some of my Islay videos. Here are some of Laphroaig distillery I liked:

Laphroaig Islay distillery storyboard 1
Laphroaig Islay distillery storyboard in black and white

It can also do colour:

Laphroaig Islay distillery storyboard 2
Laphroaig Islay distillery storyboard in colour

What do you think? Worth experimenting a bit more or a waste of time?

Vienna New Year’s Day concert and Islay Whisky Nibs

Islay Whisky News & LinksHappy New Year! As usual on New Year’s Day I’m listening to the New Year’s Day concert from Vienna while sipping an Islay single malt whisky (a Bruichladdich Port Charlotte valinch to be precise). Again as usual the waltzes and polkas, this year conducted by Riccardo Muti, are excellent, as is the whisky. What’s unusual this year is the chocolate I’m enjoying with it:

This year I’m having some Whisky Nibs from Chocolate Tree in Edinburgh. I can’t remember where exactly I came across them, I think it was some food or whisky blog. As the whisky they use is from Islay I of course had to order some.

Picture of a bar of whisky chocolate nibs next to a dram of Islay single malt whisky

Islay Whisky Chocolate Nibs. And some Islay whisky.The chocolate is very nice, a dark chocolate with 69% cocoa content from the Marañón canyon in Peru. The nibs make it nice and crunchy. With the whisky content in the single digit percentage the whisky taste for me was quite faint but detectable. I’m sure connoisseurs with better developed and trained taste buds will detect much more. I think well worth giving it a try (once available again, when I was writing this it was out of stock. I’m hoping they’re going to produce more).

And with that I’m returning to the New Year’s Day concert from Vienna, where as I’m typing this they’re playing An der schönen blauen Donau.

Lady Whisky, French Islay whisky comic book

Islay Whisky News & LinksMy French is rather limited, so I’m not entirely sure if it’s worth for me buying it, but those of you with better French might be interested: When I was scrolling through my news and blog feeds this afternoon I came across an entry Lady Whisky on Chez Lo. It is about a comic book by Joël Alessandra and after a bit of searching I found the publisher’s page for Lady Whisky. Also here’s a review (in French, positive I think)

As I said my French is limited and Google Translate can only help so much, but as far as I can gather it’s about the death of whisky expert Helen Arthur and Joël tracing back her steps including a visit to Islay. The cover indicates a visit to at least Ardbeg is on the cards, but I think the other distilleries are also visited. Jim McEwan has written a preface and many other well known Islay whisky names seem to have given support.

Here’s an Amazon link:

Price: £18.76

Meeting the Kilchoman distillery team on Islay

Islay Whisky News & LinksRecently I blogged about the Kilchoman 100% Islay video, now there’s more from Islay farm distillery. The first two videos of what I understand to be a series of ‘People Behind the Whisky’ videos. Let’s start with the founder Anthony Wills:

Second in the series is distillery manager Islay Heads:

Nicely done, I think should pour another dram of the 100% Islay I opened when I watched the first video.

Kilchoman distillery’s 100% Islay video

Islay Whisky News & LinksWhen I was on Islay back in June I bought a bottle of 100% Islay from Kilchoman distillery, but so far hadn’t opened it yet. Tonight being Friday evening I decided to finally open it and enjoy a wee dram (or may be two) with their latest video:

Oh, and here’s a picture of the bottle and the first dram poured from it:

Picture of a bottle and a dram of Kilchoman 100% Islay Cask Vatting
Kilchoman 100% Islay Cask Vatting

Very cool Laphroaig 360° Islay distillery tour video

Islay Whisky News & LinksSomething rather cool tonight: Laphroaig invites us to a 360° video tour of the bay, the peat bogs and of course the distillery on Islay. While watching the video you can move the viewing angle (either with the dial on the top right or by just ‘grabbing’ the video with the mouse pointer and moving it around) and look into all directions. Left, right, up, down, whatever you like. And all the while you are flying over Loch Laphroaig, the peat bogs, through the still house and more. Quite amazing technology, I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did:

PS: If you don’t like the 3D 360° video there’s also an old fashioned 2D version available:

I prefer the 3D version. Which one do you prefer?

Video from the Great Islay Swim

Islay NewsA quick update to the Updates from the Great Islay Swim posted last week. Bruichladdich have posted a nice video from the Sound of Islay leg of the swim, taking them from McArthur’s Head lighthouse to Rhuvaal lighthouse. I’ve walked from Bunnahabhain to Rhuvaal several times, I can’t imagine swimming all that (not to mention the rest from McArthur’s Head to Bunnahabhain). Watch the swimmers in action in the sun and the rain:

For more and where to bid for the pillaged whisky see The Great Islay Swim.

Updates from the Great Islay Swim

Islay NewsBack in May I wrote about Swimming around Islay (for science and charity), Justin Fornal and Chad Anderson planning to swim around Islay this summer. Well, the Great Islay Swim is now well under way and you can find various updates online:

From Laphroaig John Campbell gives them his support:

Several blogs and distillery websites write about them:

Taking a rest at the end of a swim:

Islay Sea-Adventures has a few posts with video and pictures:

And I’m sure there’s more out there. If you have or spot any further pictures, videos or reports from the swim please post them in the comments so that everyone can see them.