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?

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:

Our badass ass swimmers relaxing in a lagoon in front of a cave below the american monument at the end of the second day of swimming.

A post shared by Christopher Beauchamp (@christopherbeauchamp) on

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.

An Islay whisky tour video

Islay on VideoThe Adventure Bound Bumpkins visited Islay this year and among other things went on the Laphroaig Water to Whisky tour. They documented their visit and in particular the tour on video (and wrote about it on their website), first pour yourself a wee dram and enjoy the video:

To read more here are three posts about their Islay visit:

For even more you can also read about On the Way to Islay: A Scenic Drive From Edinburgh to Kennacraig.

Cantilena Festival 2017 on Islay starts today

Islay MusicSorry I’m a bit late, I got my dates mixed up and for some reason thought it’s in a week. But then again it’s not too late yet. The annual Cantilena Festival on Islay officially starts today (there were a few warmup events this week already). Beautiful music played in various venues across Islay, here’s an overview of the programme starting tonight:

The Festival opens at the Columba Centre in Bowmore with a programme of chamber music including Mozart’s Piano trio in G major and Schubert’s Trout Quintet. Players involved in this concert are Scott Mitchell (piano), Angus Ramsay (violin), Michelle Dieux (violin), Stephen Shakeshaft (viola), Sarah Harrington (cello) and Ben Burnley (bass).

Picture of the Cantilena musicians

The Festival continues on Monday in Laphroaig when our students from the Royal Conservatoire of Music have the opportunity to showcase their talents individually and then as part of the whole ensemble.

Tuesday will see the group at Lagavulin when the programme will include Mozart, Mendelssohn, Bach (double violin concerto) and Rossini. This concert will also feature our guest artist – Tobias Ringborg. He is a renowned Swedish violinist and conductor and Cantilena are pleased to welcome him to Islay which he has never visited.

Picture of the Cantilena musicians taking the bow after a performance at Lagavulin

On Wednesday Tobias will feature as soloist as will Havilland Willshire. The programme includes a Frank Violin Sonata and also piano music by Chopin and Beethoven.

Viennese Evening at Ardbeg. This will be the programme for Thursday and is a new addition to Cantilena’s repertoire. Music will include waltzes and polkas with composers Strauss and Kreisler.

The Festival concludes on Friday 14 July at Bruichladdich, in the Village Hall and will feature soloists and all the players in Mendelssohn’s famous Octet and our usual ‘Classical Ceilidh’

Some general information:

Cantilena is very generously supported by distilleries across the island. Come along and enjoy the music; sample the various malt whiskies; and have the chance to chat to our professional players and students throughout the evening. All concerts start at 7.30 pm and ticket £12/£10 may be purchased at Celtic House in Bowmore or at the door on the venue on the various evenings. There is no charge for school age young people.

And that’s not all, there will also be some whisky and music:

Whisky and Music afternoon

Martine Nouet celebrated whisky expert presents a Whisky and Music afternoon on Wednesday 12 July in Islay House. Martine will guide you through several Islay malts which will match with music which Cantilena will play.

Further information at www.martinenouet.com

For further information also visit the 2017 Cantilena Festival page. I’m sure it will be yet another successful festival and everyone will enjoy the music.

Swimming around Islay (for science and charity)

Islay NewsBack in 2008 Becky walked (in stages) all the way around the coast of Islay. Today I came across a similar challenge two men are planning, although slightly wetter. About a decade ago the Islay Masters Swimming club swam across Loch Indaal from Bowmore to Bruichladdich (or was it the other way around? Not entirely sure), crossed the Sound of Islay and even tackled the famous Corryvreckan. Justin Fornal and Chad Anderson are planning an even bigger, more ambitious swim:

The Great Islay Swim. In a week in July 2017 they plan to swim all around Islay. Starting from Ardbeg they will swim clockwise around Islay in seven days. Swimming between 4-8 hours a day and covering around 15-20 kilometres per day. Pulling a whisky cask they are planning to fill with whisky from all the distilleries (similar to the Islay Pillage a number of years ago), which will later be bottled and sold. And they’re fundraising for the RNLI.

(via John Lenker on Twitter)

Islay April Fools 2017

Islay FunSorry, fun’s over. Admittedly pretty much all of you spotted immediately that the Haggis farm on Islay was an April Fools. But just in case you had any niggling doubts it might be true after all, it isn’t. No Haggis farm on Islay any time soon.

It wasn’t the only Islay related April Fools, Laphroaig also joined in with this product announcement:

Islay Ales announced the opening of an Artisan restaurant. Although it seems it was destroyed in a storm just hours later.

If there are any other Islay related ones I have missed please let me and other readers know via the comments.

Regular readers of this blog will know that April Fools jokes have a long tradition on this blog, here’s the obligatory list of the previous ones (on the old blog):

And that’s enough Islay April Fools. Let me see what I can come up with next year (it is getting more difficult…)

Brazilian visitors to Islay video

Islay on VideoAs my Portuguese is rather limited (that’s an understatement by the way) I didn’t understand much in tonight’s video (only the few seconds in English to be precise). Still I found this video of Vinicius Bustamante’s visit to Islay quite interesting. They (there seems to have been at least one other couple?) stayed in the Glenmachrie Guesthouse and visited several distilleries:

According to Google Translate’s version of the video description he very much enjoyed Islay, the whisky, the sheep and the beaches, so he hopes to return soon.

‘Revisiting’ the Laphroaig Islay single malt whisky bread

Islay Whisky News & LinksOver the Christmas and New Year long weekends I made two batches of he Laphroaig Islay single malt whisky truffles, more about that over the coming days. This morning I decided I felt like making some whisky bread again. There was enough Laphroaig left and a quick rummage through my kitchen showed I had most of the ingredients I wanted (the missing one wasn’t essential), so I set to work based on a bread I had made with Bruichladdich previously.

Picture of a cut open bread with a whisky bottle next to it

Here are the ingredients in the order used:

  • Strong stoneground wholemeal bread flour ~250g
  • Strong white bread flour ~150g
  • Wholegrain seeded bread flour ~50g
  • Roasted chopped hazelnuts ~50g
  • Sunflower seeds ~50g
  • (Fast action / Easy bake) Dried yeast ~15g (I used two 7g sachets and a pinch of loose yeast)
  • Extra virgin olive oil ~2 tablespoons
  • Islay single malt whisky (in this case Laphroaig 10yo) ~¼pint
  • Hot water ~¼pint

This is the process I used:

  • Preheat oven to 220°C and make sure the kitchen is warm (helps the bread to rise)
  • Measure all dry ingredients into a bowl
  • In a jug mix the whisky and the hot water (in the original recipe I adopted for this recipe you would use ½pint of warm water. Mixing the room temperature whisky with the hot water should result in a warm mixture)
  • add the olive oil as well as the whisky and water mixture to the dry ingredients
  • thoroughly mix/knead the mixture, I let my kitchen machine do the work for about 15 minutes, may be slightly longer
  • Move dough into large bowl and let rise covered by a tea towel for at least 30 minutes, ideally longer. It won’t rise much, but will rise a bit
  • Beat down, knead again and put into silicon baking form or onto baking tray. Let rest again (covered with a towel) for at least 20 minutes, ideally longer
  • Bake at 220°C (fan assisted) for approx 30 minutes

That’s it. Cut open and enjoy. I think it tastes very nice, just with some butter. There’s a mellow Islay whisky taste, but I don’t think it’s overpowering. Very enjoyable.

PS: the non-essential missing ingredient was an egg. I would have liked to glaze the bread with egg and sprinkled it with more sunflower seeds. But that’s not crucially important.

New Islay video: A Whirlwind Tour of Islay

Announcing the relaunch of the blog this morning I hinted there might be a second ‘Christmas present’ coming up. Having only finished editing it late in the evening on Christmas Evening I still had to upload it this morning. But it all worked out and I can proudly present my latest Islay video. It’s a bit different from the videos I’ve made previously. To start with it has music. Then it’s monochrome. And it’s quite fast paced. A bit of an experiment, I’m very curious to see what people think. Here it is:

In 4.5 minutes I’m taking you on a quick journey around Islay, taking in as much as possible in such a short period. Admittedly some of the selections were influenced by the availability of footage, in other areas I had to make difficult choices what to show and what to omit. Here is a list of the places you can see in chronological order:

  1. Port Ellen buoy
  2. Port Ellen lighthouse
  3. Port Ellen warehouse
  4. Port Ellen houses with passing Islay Coaches
  5. Port Ellen Maltings
  6. Port Ellen pier/marina and village
  7. Laphroaig approach from loch
  8. Laphroaig smoking pagoda
  9. Laphroaig stills
  10. Dunyvaig castle and Lagavulin
  11. Lagavulin distillery
  12. Bowmore distillery approach from sea
  13. Bowmore Main Street
  14. Round Church
  15. Barnacle Geese in front of Port Charlotte
  16. Barnacle Geese at top of Loch Indaal with Paps of Jura
  17. Bruichladdich approach from sea
  18. Bruichladdich over distillery
  19. Bruichladdich spirit safe (making Port Charlotte spirit)
  20. Past Loch Indaal lighthouse to Port Charlotte
  21. Port Charlotte pier from above
  22. Port Charlotte Main Street towards Port Charlotte Hotel
  23. Loch Indaal lighthouse with breaking waves
  24. Waves breaking over Port Charlotte pier
  25. Saltire flying in Portnahaven
  26. Rhinns of Islay lighthouse and fishing boat
  27. Seal in Portnahaven
  28. Waves breaking near Port Wemyss
  29. Single track road towards Kilchoman
  30. Approaching Kilchoman Church
  31. Ruin of Kilchoman church from the air
  32. View of Machir Bay
  33. Beach view in Machir Bay
  34. Otter in Machir Bay
  35. At the wreck in Machir Bay
  36. Above the wreck in Machir Bay
  37. Breaking waves in Saligo Bay
  38. Waves blown back by wind in Saligo Bay
  39. View towards Sleeping Giant / Opera House Rocks in Saligo Bay
  40. Saligo Bay from the air
  41. Barnacle Geese feeding at Gruinart
  42. Barnacle Geese lifting off at Gruinart
  43. Barnacle Geese over the Gruinart marshes
  44. Barnacle Geese over grazing cows
  45. Approach to Finlaggan from the air
  46. View of the house ruin at Finlaggan from the air
  47. MV Hebridean Isles arriving in Port Askaig
  48. Passing McArthur’s Head lighthouse

I still think that’s quite impressive for 4.5 minutes, also a sign of how much Islay has to offer. It might be too fast and hectic for some, but then it might be exciting and fresh for others. I’m normally not a big fan of music for videos (certainly for my videos) and prefer more natural sounds, but here it felt appropriate so I used some. To avoid any rights issues (not to mention that the lyrics I feel often don’t really fit) I didn’t use any big hit(s) known to many but used some free music offered by Google. No lyrics, so no risk of conflict there either. The style of music will probably not be to everyone’s taste, I like the speed and energy in it.

Now it’s over to you, I hope you enjoy and like the whirlwind tour of Islay. Let me know what you think.