October Friday night Islay dram

Islay Whisky News & Links

First Friday evening in October 2019. It’s been a long and busy week in the day job, so I’ve decided to treat myself tonight with a dram or two from one of my favourite Islay distilleries (if you read this post you should be able to figure out which ones they are). Here’s a picture of the dram for tonight:

Picture of a bottle and dram of Laphroaig Lore Islay single malt whisky with a water jug
Laphroaig Lore Islay single malt whisky

Enjoying it with some nice 85% dark chocolate while pondering that I should probably blog here more again. I’ll try my best.

Rachel’s stained glass birds

This isn’t strictly speaking an Islay post, although I came across it because someone mentioned Islay in a comment to it. I’m not even sure if Rachel has ever been to Islay. Either way, Rachel makes birds from stained glass and I think they look absolutely amazing. The birds include Choughs and Hen Harriers, birds frequently spotted on Islay. If you know your birds you will spot the Chough in her tweet immediately:

For more of Rachel’s work including the already mentioned Hen Harrier and also some Greenland White-fronted Goose head over to Rachel’s website. It is being rebuilt as of writing this, but you can page through two excellent albums of her work.

Nice video about Islay’s Machrie golf links course

Islay on Video

While I don’t know much about golf and have never played it I can appreciate its appeal to many people. If I was playing it I think a links course would be my favourite, like the Machrie on Islay. Even on a dreich day like when this video was filmed it has a great atmosphere:

Playing the Machrie golf links course on Islay on a dreich day

I think even on a dreich day it looks impressive, also remember that you can enjoy a wee dram or two or three of Islay single malt once you’ve finished your round successfully…

Breaking news: AlbaCoin and AlbaContract to be trialled on Islay

Islay News

Some great breaking Islay news this morning, which should be exciting for both IT nerds and whisky buffs alike. The Scottish Government is announcing that Islay has been chosen for the trial of the roll-out of both AlbaCoin and AlbaContracts. This will put Islay and Scotland truly on the map for the new exciting blockchain technology. They will revolutionise how business as well as everyday transactions will be conducted on Islay and soon all over Scotland and even the world.

AlbaCoin and AlbaContracts are based on the blockchain technology, the underlying technology for cryptocurrencies and more. AlbaCoin is an electronic cryptocurrency which will replace physical banknotes and coins with fully electronic and safe currency. It is also likely to be the new currency of an independent Scotland should Scotland gain independence in the near future. AlbaContracts are intelligent e-contracts based on the blockchain technology, allowing secure and trustworthy transactions and tracking in the digitalised economy.

Some information about the technology from Lead Project Manager John Holland:

AlbaCoin and AlbaContract both use the newly developed and extremely secure 512 byte P.E.A.T. (Petaflop Excentric Algorithmic Triangulation) method, which is impossible to break. Leading cryptographic experts were involved in its development.

The technology is supported by all major banks and law firms as well as the major technology giants and will be integrated in all major technology platforms and operating systems.

The technology will be rolled out to all households and businesses on Islay and Jura with training and information sessions starting soon. The trail is funded by the government and will not cost the users anything, while bringing plenty of benefits.

AlbaContracts will provide huge benefits to the distilleries, who through the blockchain technology of AlbaContracts will be able to trace all the ingredients from source to bottle, e.g. barley from field through maltings to mashing, distilling, maturing and bottling. The ultimate in trace-ability. Bruichladdich wasn’t available for comment, but it is believed they will implement the technology to support their provenance and terroir ambitions until their new local Islay maltings are complete.

Certainly exciting and interesting times for Islay!

Sailing the Scottish west coast (incl Islay, Jura, Colonsay and Oronsay)

Islay on Video

The Scottish west coast is probably one of the best places in the world for a sailing holiday. Stunning landscapes, beautiful bays and lochs to anchor, ever changing views (and weather), what more could you want? Charlie Hitchen did just that and recorded their adventures in a nice video. The first couple of minutes cover Islay, Jura, Oronsay and Colonsay:

Charlie Hitchen: Sailing to Skye and the Inner Sound

Lots of traditional music in the video, including some recorded during a session at the Islay Hotel in Port Ellen (with some of the usual suspects….).

WalkIslay Islay walking week 2019 details announced…

Islay Events

Just a quick heads up tonight, the details for the 2019 WalkIslay Islay walking week have been announced/published today. I’ll write up a more detail personal preview over the coming days with some pictures and thoughts which walks I’ll probably participate in.

To read up on the walks head over to www.walkislay.co.uk for the details of all of them (well, as of writing this less one, where the details are still being finalised).

Having had to miss out on the 2018 edition through my leg injury I’m very much looking forward to catching up this year (fingers crossed nothing goes wrong this time…).

Claig Castle in the Sound of Islay (video)

Islay on Video

Most people who have travelled to/from Islay via Port Askaig will at some point have noticed the ruins on Am Fraoch Eilean on the Jura side at the southern end of the Sound of Islay. This is Claig Castle, once a quite important castle on the west coast of Scotland. Someone from Cine Gate has flown a drone over it for a closer look:

Claig Castle by Cine Gate

It is probably around 500 years old, dating back to medieval times, and once was a Macdonald stronghold. Certainly an excellent position to control the area and any traffic passing through the Sound of Islay!

A mix of Islay links to read

Islay Links

Haven’t blogged here as much recently as I would have liked, so I’m going to try to get better again. Today I thought I’d share a mix of links to articles and other things I found interesting recently. I hope you’ll find something of interest to you as well:

Western Ferries had long gone from the Islay route by the time I first boarded a ferry to Islay, so I don’t have any real memory of them (apart from the pictures and articles about them I’ve seen). This might be changing again at some point, as reports indicate they are interested in (re-)starting a freight only service to Islay.

Digital and that the future is digital is a lot in the news at the moment, good to see that Islay is listed in “£100k funding to inspire Scotland’s next generation of digital experts“. I can’t seem to link directly to it, but scroll down to Port Ellen Primary and click on the + to expand the section on this digitalXtra fund page for more detail about the afterschool robotics club.

Most people are aware of the Otranto and Tuscania sinking off Islay a century ago, more recently during WWII the Floristan sank off the Rhinns of Islay. You can read Tony Cummings memories of the events in 1942.

In The National Andy Gemmell’s pub of the week in late February was the Ballygrant Inn.

And that’s all for today, more some other time. I hope you found something interesting to read this time.

Brìghde Chaimbeul’s debut album The Reeling (via the Islay Sessions)

Islay Music

This weekend I’m going to see Ross Ainslie and Ali Hutton (supported by Jenn Butterworth and others) at the south coast of England. Which inspired me to write another post about an artist I got to know through the Islay Sessions (which makes it a post for this blog). In case you’re wondering what the connection is: Brìghde has played together with Ross (not sure if she has played with Ali as well), here’s a nice recording:

ROSS AINSLIE, BRIGHDE CHAIMBEUL and STEVEN BYRNES

But now to the real topic of this post, to Brìghde Chaimbeul‘s debut album, The Reeling. It was published in January 2019 to very positive reviews, for example in the Guardian. I’m not sure if she played any of it during the Islay Sessions in November 2018, but what I heard certainly motivated me to buy the album on release day. Here’s a (rather low quality, as it was recorded with a mobile phone) short snippet from her performance at the Islay Sessions in Bruichladdich Hall (my lack of musical skills don’t allow me to identify the tune):

Brìghde Chaimbeul and Innes White at the Islay Sessions (low quality mobile phone snippet)

Back to the album, it’s available on various download/streaming services (I bought it on Google Play as that’s what I use mostly) and you can buy a CD/LP from Rough Trade. If you’d like to get an impression before you buy you can hear some (or all if you have a Spotify account) here:

If that’s not enough, here’s a video with one of the songs from the album:

Isn’t that a beautiful rich tune? I’ve listened to the album many times now and will listen many times again. I’m not sure about any upcoming gigs by Brìghde, but I’m sure they’ll be mentioned on her social media accounts: Brìghde Chaimbeul on Facebook and Brìghde Chaimbeul on Twitter.

Gráinne Brady’s debut album The Road Across the Hills (via the Islay Sessions)

Islay Music

Something slightly outside of the normal content of this blog, but then there’s a good chance that without the Islay Sessions I wouldn’t have heard of this album (and others I will write about some other time). So I think it does fit into this blog. I’ve known Gráinne Brady for a number of years now, performing at and organising the wonderful Islay Sessions. Early on she was mainly performing together with other artists, last year saw her launching a solo project with her debut album. I’ll let her tell you about it herself:

Gráinne Brady: BEYOND: The Story of an Irish Immigrant

The Islay Sessions saw the second ever live performance of the album, Gráinne supported by Andrew Waite and Innes White. It was a great experience, her telling us about the project and then performing it, taking on parts of the spoken word as well. Some great musical storytelling. Here’s a short snippet (mobile phone recording, so not the greatest quality) from the sessions, just to give you an impression:

Gráinne supported by Andrew and Innes at the Islay Sessions

If this got you interested, Gráinne is going on tour in Ireland and Scotland in late February and March 2019. Here is her tour poster:

Tour poster for Gráinne Brady's spring tour 2019 with dates and more
Gráinne spring tour 2019 poster

I hope you get a chance to see one of her concerts and buy the album (Gráinne on Bandcamp). For updates check her website and her social media accounts (Gráinne Facebook, Gráinne Twitter).