Category Archives:EVENTS

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Jun. 01.

FEIS ILE ~ BUNNAHABHAIN

WE HEART BUNNAHABHAIN ~ as they say on Twitter! What a FANTASTIC open day.

 Beautiful drams ~ the Bunnahabhain  is so smooth you drink it like Mother’s milk. Manager Andrew Brown told Whisky for Girls ~Bunnahabhain 18 years old is like fruitcake, rich and sweet and fruity. Whisky for Girls say; It slips over your tongue, you don’t even think about adding water. The Bunnahabhain 12 years old is similarly smooth.

The hospitality was great ~ we were offered Raspberry fruit smoothies with a dash of 12 year old. Such a healthy breakfast: fruit and whisky~ sets one up for the day!

 The band played mellow music, the sun shone, dozens of people signed up for Whisky for Girls IT’S NOT JUST WHISKY FOR GIRLS CLUB, a lovely lady from the USA ordered a Whisky for Girls Hand made Silver charm bracelet. We met the cool Neil & Joel from http://caskstrength.blogspot.co.uk/ ~ cool and  knowledgeable (you don’t always find the two together, but you do with these guys!)

 Then, Whisky for Girls got a ‘whisky in the shoe’ picture with Bunnahabhain Manager Andrew with  THE No.1 BOTTLE of the Bunnahabhain Festival Bottling 2012. 

 This dram has an Amontillado sherry finish which gives it a sweetness and a creamy mouthfeel. It is a single cask 54.3% 12 years old, and there were 346 bottles. Manager Andrew said it can be reminiscent of American Cream Soda! It is young and rounded, with a long finish, slightly dry.

We met a bunch of Italian guys (one of whom is married to an Islay girl) who have their own whisky club  ~  S.M.I.LE. ~ and come to Islay for the festival

 The guy in the yellow shirt did very well at the Bunnahabhain tossing the caber competition!

Whisky for Girls met Dominik from Germany, Marty from America,  Sandy from Scotland and people from everywhere ~ this was a multicultural day. People lazed on the grass and watched the ferry sail down the sound, they ate clams cooked with whisky, they danced to the band, they bought cakes and prints of the distilleries ~ and they drank drams and drank more drams!

 

 

 

It was a great day ~ thanks to Bunnahabhain Manager Andrew and all the team for their wonderful hospitality. Whisky for Girls and everyone will definitely return to Bunnahabhain next year!

 

 

 

 

 

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May. 31.

FEIS ILE agus DIURA ~ KILCHOMAN & JURA

WHAT A DAY!! TWO OPEN DAYS IN 12 HOURS ~ Whew………

First off Whisky for Girls headed to Kilchoman Distillery. It must have been a bit early for me ‘cos when we arrived and I saw all the people queing up, I said to my friend, Ewald, ‘what are they queing for………?’

We were queing for our festival bottle from Kilchoman ~ and it was worth the wait.

Anthony Wills and staff were busy cooking up welcome bacon rolls, the girls in the cafe had the coffee on the go, and ‘Deoch and Dorus’ were tuning up in the malt barn. 

In the queue we met the couple who own the FoL car number plate that I photographed at Laphroaig ~ Sabine and Rainer. They are from Frankfurt and have been coming to Islay since 2007.  Every year they stay a little longer, this time they are here for 3 weeks. In a couple of years I think they will end up just staying here…….!

 The first guy in the door to buy the bottle was Andreas Hofmann who owns ‘Scotland’s Glory’ whisky shop in Wurzburg. He bought the first bottle of Kilchoman last year, too.

 We got a brilliant shot of the Whisky for Girls shoe with the Kilchoman Festival Bottle

 This is a good dram with a short finish, not that smooth yet, but it is only young.  I like the Kilchoman Inaugural 100% Islay ~ my friend says I am biased due to the name! Maybe………, but I support the endeavour to be 100% Islay.

Then, sadly we had to leave and head to Isle of Jura to sample the delights in store for us there.

 Ewald Baron and friends supporting ITS NOT JUST WHISKY FOR GIRLS CLUB  at Port Askaig on the way to Jura ~ whilst drinking his Kilchoman Festival Dram.

The Paps were shrouded in mist as we took the 4 minute ferry journey over to Jura.  When we arrrived at the distillery we were ushered into the glamorous new reception centre to begin our tour.

  Distillery Manager, Willie Cochrane took us into the mash house and the still room, and whilst sharing some of his extensive knowledge of whisky making, gave us a large dram of the delicious Prophecy. Prophecy is the dram I was drinking when the Whisky for Girls idea was conceived ~ so it is very dear to my heart! Prophecy is slightly peaty with a fresh green aspect just after the middle.  Jura is always so smooth and velvety. I love it.

 Then we were royally entertained in the warehouse by Willie Tait who talked us through some of the Jura ‘family’ of whiskies.  Richard Patterson talked to us about blending, and we headed off to the filling store for more drams and a plate of venison stew. The only inhospitable thing about Jura is the midges!

 Whisky for Girls got their picture taken with the Jura Boys and a bottle of Prophecy. All in all a very good day! 

 

 Thanks to Konrad Borkowski for photo.

 

 

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May. 30.

FEIS ILE ~ BOWMORE

Bowmore Distillery Open Day ~ The day kicked off for Whisky for Girls with a  food and whisky pairing masterclass with the great Rachel Barrie, Master Blender at Bowmore.

 As I hadn’t had time for breakfast, I was, as in the title of Robin Laing’s song, having ~ Whisky for Breakfast  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivIFaaDNux4&feature=colike 

Rachel and Chefs, David from Rufflets Country House Hotel and Craig Millar @16 West End made us an amazing breakfast.

They took elements of the dram and took the same elements in food form ~ so we had :

Bowmore 12 years, a balanced dram with vanilla and fresh meaty saltiness, which has an underlying layer of something crisscrossing with toastey smokey flavours

and we ate it  with vanilla cream, fresh clam and crispy bacon.

The food really was the manifestation of the dram! How clever I thought. I really like Heston Blumenthall and the way he desconstructs food flavours then remakes dishes.  Rachel and the chefs did this dish and the whisky in a  very similar way.  But the great thing was that, many times I have had clams and bacon and probably had a dram with it too ~ but I really tasted the same flavours and textures in the whisky and then in the food this time, because Rachel and the chefs made me aware of it.

So in the first instance of this class I learned to look at the world and experience food and whisky in a new way ~  Not a bad start to anyones morning!

The class took us through a 15 year old Bowmore, a 17 year old Bowmore ~ the managers favourite, and a wonderful dram from 1985, natural cask strength at 52.3%, which was honey, rich and chocolatey with a smell of old wooden fence posts and some saltiness coming in. This is a sweet, honey like, complex, strong yet light airy open whisky. An absolute delight. This dram was paired with a chocolate sweetie and a sliver of vanilla biscuit sprinkled with freeze dried raspberries.

 I can safely say that it was one of the best breakfasts I have ever had!

Next Whisky for Girls met Margaret and Islay Campbell in the reception centre. Islay used to be the Manager of Bowmore, so it was nice to see him and Margaret still supporting the distillery.

 A wee while later I met up with Whisky Bard Robin Laing and he gave me a taste of his own bottling of pink whisky from somewhere else ~ and again I was draming out the back of a car!

(This is the real festival, where the drams are unexpected and unusual and belong to an individual) ~ experience it where you can…..

We met up with  whisky dogs ~ Meg, Jess and Murdo. Whisky for Girls have seen them at nearly every open day this Feis, so we felt they deserved their picture in the paper ~ so to speak.

 

Next we wandered up to the lounge where everyone was tucking into whisky cocktails, we met the Chief of Staff ~ Ginger Willie himself,  and  four guys who tell it like it is ……………………

 Later, I had a great conversation with @islaybart  and his friend about draming not tasting. Sometimes people get so caught up in analysing the drams they forget to drink them!

That’s where Whisky for Girls come in ………….. we have SLOW DRAM WHISKY TASTING which  reminds people that their whisky is here to be drammed, not dissected!

 Bart and his friend ~ the whisky drammers.

Bowmore Distillery Open Day ~ elegant, quiet (because they sold all their bottles before the open day!) and still going on ~ Islay Pipe Band and Skerryvore are calling……………………………

Slainte!

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May. 29.

FEIS ILE ~ LAPHROAIG

Laphroaig Distillery Open Day ~ just another day in paradise ~ lots of interesting people and a great Festival bottling.

And that much sunshine we are getting fed up with it now (~ only joking; we LOVE it!)  

Columns and columns of people wearing wellies streamed past the Whisky for Girls stand. They followed manager John Campbell as though he were the pied piper of Laphroaig!

 There were walks wearing the wellies, and hunt the bottle in the barley in bare feet…………..

There was a hansome barman and a dresser full of drink

We spotted a handy cupboard to look out for when visiting the peat shed…………….

 Pauline and tiny daughter with glamorous glasses, queued for the Cairdeas Origin 51.2%, the Laphroaig Festival bottle

and we saw the best number plate for a Friends of Laphroaig member ~

Whisky for Girls met a group of friends with their own private supply of drams in the back of their van……………

 Tony and Loes from Amsterdam and Robert and Shona from Glasgow have know each other ‘too long’!  after having met at the festival years ago.  Tony said I could have a dram from his cask as long as I didn’t tell anyone…….as it wasn’t from Laphroaig and he didn’t want John Campbell putting him out………!  

I said of course I wouldn’t (and I haven’t told a soul, I have only written about it on my online festival diary

 

They buy all the festival bottlings, and Tony likes the Laphroaig Quarter Cask. Loes drinks whisky from Laphroaig when she is on Islay ~ but not when she is in Holland.  Robert is a member of glasgow’s Whisky club ~ ‘a dram not a drama’  and Shona doesn’t get a dram at all, being the designated driver.

Islay artist Jane Taylor www.islaywhiskydistilleryprints.co.uk  and Laphroaig Manager John Campbell pose in front of the Whisky for Girls stand, and the festival bottling tastes pale golden, thin, briney, sweet, peaty, with honey and power then oak and is yummy!

      It could hardly have been a better day. Thanks to all at Laphroaig.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

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May. 28.

FEIS ILE ~ CAOL ILA

ANOTHER FINE DAY AT THE MEDITERRANEAN   ISLAY WHISKY FESTIVAL!

 A mellow, relaxed, easy day at Caol Ila Distillery Open Day. The ferry sailed down the Sound of Islay on a mirror of blue and  as the band played  in the courtyard, we sat on the balcony with Distillery Manager, Billy Stitchell and tasted 5 Caol Ila drams.

 We sampled the Moch, the 18 year old, 2007 only available at the distillery, the new Festival bottling and the 25 years old ~ not cask strength.

The 25 year old went so well with a mini black cherry chocolate log.

I don’t really like this fashion for whisky with chocolate, but this pairing worked really well.

 Manager Billy wandered about the balcony chatting informally with everyone. Ewald Baron, a seasoned festival attender posed for a picture with Billy and the festival bottle.  Billy told us he chose the festival dram about two months ago. From a range of about 20 casks, he narrowed it down to six, and  from them chose the Festival Dram 2012. Sometimes it is really tight for time waiting for the new bottles to arrive ~ sometimes they are only being delivered on the day! Ewald said that the tasting dram was not generous enough to make a value judgement on the festival bottling. After one sip it was finished and therefor one was unable to add water to assess another aspect of the dram.

After a leisurely time sampling the drams on the balcony we wandered down stairs where  jovial Diageo engineer,  Alasdair Campbell poured us a lovely dram of Caol Ila Distillers Edition. 

 We wandered down the pier, spoke with Justin Ruthven ~ Tyres and looked at his  wooden yacht named Caol Ila.  Justin has written a book about 7 years he and his wife Linda spent in the boat  sailing around the Celtic areas of Europe   http://www.justintyers.co.uk/ 

The time  spent at Caol Ila was leisurely, the views were phenomenal, the drams were delicious.

 All in all a very mellow, sweet, yet, earthy day ~ a bit like the Caol Ila drams themselves!

 

Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
May. 27.

FEIS ILE ~ BRUICHLADDICH

SUNSHINE, DRAMS, SUNSHINE, DRAMS, MUSIC, SUNSHINE, WHISKY FOR GIRLS, SUNSHINE, MASTERCLASSES, SUNSHINE………….

SOME PHOTOS FOR YOU ~  FULL POST TOMORROW ~ PARTY IS STILL GOING……….!!

 STARLA PHELPS ~ PORSCHE RACING CAR DRIVER & IT’S NOT JUST WHISKY FOR GIRLS CLUB MEMBER

  THE PROGRESSIVE HEBRIDEAN DISTILLERS PARTY………

 SAMPLING THE DRAMS………………………

 WHISKY FOR GIRLS HOST RACHEL MACNEILL WITH ZACH CHEN, ENGINEER FROM TAIWAN ~ HE IS AN ALCHEMIST WHO IS GOING TO CREATE EVEN MORE MAGICAL STILLS FOR THE INDUSTRY………..

 Whisky for Girls sold our first ever handcrafted silver charm bracelet to the lovely Sonia from Wuerzburg in Germany.

Our bracelet is handmade by Heather Scott from Hide & Seek Art Glass and silversmith Charlotte Hannett, both from Islay. Orders to buy the bracelet can be placed by emailing rachel@wildandmagicislay.com

 THE FESTIVAL DRAM FROM BRUICHLADDICH ~ 20year old heaven,

FAVOURITE DRAM OF THE DAY ~ PC10 IN JIM MCEWAN’S MASTERCLASS ~ new dram; salty not so peaty, warm, lingering…………. ……….. and like the party ~ LONGLASTING!

Ewald Baron  from Munich on Bruichladdich open day; ‘ Gaelic sounds and whisky, it was a perfect day.’

THANKS TO HOST JIM MCEWAN & TEAM  BRUICHLADDICH ~ IT WAS/IS A GREAT DAY…………..