or 'WHAT WE DID ON OUR HOLLS...'
Some images from the Islay Whisky Festival, from when we remembered the camera.
Anyone who has travelled to Islay will remember the CalMac breakfast on the ferry.
This time we went for chopped up pieces of CalMac Officer with chips and beans (£2.75). A threatened strike by the officers for the weekend has caused a turmoil of cancellations along the entire West coast of Scotland, a fine example of an incompetent union.
The road between Port Ellen and Bowmore has a new attraction for the festival, "The Wee Hauf" a Puffer Sculpture by George Wylie, a framework covered on plastic. "Is it art or is it rubbish?" the experts ask - it's good, that's what it is.
Day one at Port Ellen Maltings ended with a nosing competition, this bloke got the style right, he came third, the winner was a chap from Germany (again).
Jim McEwan of Bowmore Distillery didn't win, could be the technique...that pinkie is a no-no, surely?
Lots of famous people there, here's top French whisky journo Martine Noute with Michael Jackson (well that's what he said). Martine was a runner up in the competition, Michael declined to take part....Nor did I (I was driving!) :-(
All the distillery managers attended, this is Laphroaig's Ian Henderson announcing the winners.
A healthy turn out, despite the ferry officers actions.
The LFW family enjoyed themselves.
The next day was devoted to Lagavulin including a feast of Lagavulin and scallops.
However the LFW family went to the beach instead. That evening we had wonderful Islay beef with Lagavulin on the side, marvellous!
Famous (well slightly) people attending part 2.
Marcin Miller of Whishy Magazine.
Much more famous
Angus the stillman at Bowmore.
Day 3 was at Bowmore, first a "super-tour" with Festival mover Jim McEwan.
First he handled some dirt....
Shovelled some malt....
Threw grist into the air....
Did some serious hammering....
Clambered about some butts....
And still remained whiter than James Bond after a punch-up!
After the "super-tour" (Christine Logan took the other party, so busy was the event) there was a talk by Dr Margaret Storrie entitled "Why Islay" determining the reason for the Island's success in distilling, very interesting.
Behind her is a picture of Bowmore on fair-day when there were 15,000 people living on the island, now there are 3,000.
That afternoon a hardy gang took to the hills for...
A peat cutting demonstration by....
"Stormin" Norman Campbell - what a man! What a face!
That evening a showing of the Ealing Classic Movie "The Maggie" a great insight into island attitudes.
Filmed on Islay, one of the crew was Rex Hipple who returned to the island after 47 years, this time he brought his wife
(not the lady next to him here).
After the film showing, a relaxed tasting of Bowmores with Islay's wonderful Oysters (£3)
Famous people 4, "Whisky-Bob" Minnekeer, the world's hardest working whisky lecturer, based in Belgium he conducts four tastings a week explaining the wonders of Scotch to his countrymen.
Each table had a Bowmore variant and an 'expert' for discussion.
The day ended with a giant Scottish hokey-cokey, aka Auld-Lang-Syne.
Next day was the turn of Laphroaig.
And two "super-tours" by distillery manager Ian Henderson.
However the tours were very heavily subscribed and many missed out.
A lot of people are privileged to get a tour from Ian and his is one of the very best tours in the world of whisky.
After the tour Ian poured the tea, that's humility for you!
Friday was the turn of Caol Ila and Bunnahabhain for 'super-tours'
We went to the beach (again).
Friday Evening was something else.
"Tales from the stills" - eight Distillery Managers telling stories to a large audience in the filling store at Bunnahabhain.
A laugh a minute (I promise you) and one of the most enjoyable evenings I have ever had.
Ian Henderson (Laphroaig) was on great form.
As was Donald Renwick (Lagavulin)...
and Bill Stitchell (Caol Ila).
One of John from Port Ellen maltings stories was about false teeth in an effluent tank
(Yuk! Thank you John!)
Grant Carmichael (retired Lagavulin and Caol Ila) joined the group for a couple of tales.
James "Bond" McEwan (Bowmore) demonstrated best use of a broom!
I'm sure the cask could be put to better use though...
Thats the same shirt from two days ago...
Many people ask us the best way to drink Single Malts,
Stuart Thomson (Ardbeg) demonstrates his views:
No chill-filtering, no dilution and no pouring!
Chariman and host for the evening John MacLellan (Bunnahabhain) with three workers - John McGillivary, Andrew Brown and Donald MacDonald, who were fully occupied circulating with drams of Bunny, Black Bottle and the great (but unavailable) Black Bottle 10yo, thanks guys!
Evidence of a good evening, and a great photo t'boot, (COPYRIGHT PROTECTED! no reproduction without etc.)
Stuart Thomson, John Thomson, Billy Stichell, Donald Renwick, John MacLellan
Grant Carmichael, Ian Henderson & James McEwan
(Click on the picture for a better view).
Boy did you miss something! We have a tape of the stories and will be letting you read some here, but be patient!
Final day, Saturday was the turn of Ardbeg
All day, the Distillery's Cafe put on a special whisky menu.
We went for Gravadlax Salmon and bread made with Ardbeg grist....
Islay beef simmered with mushrooms, shallots, red wine and Ardbeg 1975....
And one of the two best clootie dumplings ever, laced with Ardbeg 17yo - here modelled by Jackie Thompson.
The main event of the day was the opportunity to fill a cask, once mature each participant will get a bottle from their own cask.
But there was also plenty of drams to be had.
Thanks to Anne Birse of the Lochside Hotel for the snaps.
The finale of the festival started with the Islay Pipe band.
A fine body of men, (and very competent).
This is our new friend, Christy who taught Nina Heilan' dancing, Hi Christy!
I just asked Nina if she had anything to say and she blew a kiss!
Whisky professionals at work, (not Heilan' dancing).
Luck of the LFW customer.
LFW regular Charles Hutcheon with his raffle prize, a 25th Anniversary bottle of Port Ellen with a certificate...
Signed by all the distillery managers - anyone like to put a value on that?
(Charles says it's not for sale).
The festival ended with a ceilidh (or riot - depending on you point of view).
One of the saddest views on Islay, Port Ellen Distillery, no longer to produce - the stills have melted down and the buildings are decaying visibly. It's up to us consumers to use our power to ensure Bruichladdich doesn't face the same fate.
A great week, make sure you don't miss it next time, Islay is one of the world's greatest visitor destinations.