Well what a week! Feis Ile 2015 has been superb, I hope you have followed each installment in this Islay Festival 2015 diary series, if not the links to each previous entry is included below.
I could not have asked for a better first Islay Festival, Feis Ile 2015 duly delivered on all I hoped it would be.
My personal highlights had to be:
1. Epic Laphroaig tasting
This was probably always going to make it to the top five of whatever I got up to on Islay really but it really was knockout. Getting to try such mad whiskies from a range that I know and love was exceptional. If I had a spare few quid I would buy the 25 Year Old Laphroaig in a heartbeat.
2. Trying the 1972 Ardbeg in the warehouse
This should probably be the number one if I’m honest but there you go, it isn’t, but it was a genuine privilege to be trying a ~42 Year Old Ardbeg. Peated to 80ppm at the time but you’d never know it, the years have mellowed and matured this one to within an inch of perfection.
3. Lagavulin warehouse tasting
Well this is a lot to do with my arrival to the distillery as the tasting itself – when do you get to arrive at a distillery in a speed boat? Once in though the seven whiskies we tried that were drawn straight from the cask in front of us, including a 33 Year Old were just brilliant. The fact the lovely chap next to me did not want more than a sip so kept passing his to me just added a little bit of magic to the occasion.
4. The last meal on the ship Irene
I was consistently impressed and surprised at how great the food was on the ship considering the size of the ‘galley’ (that’s kitchen for land faring folk) but the last meal was just awesome.
Fresh crab from Islay, fresh lobster from Islay, fresh scallops from, you guessed it, Islay and salmon from somewhere else in Scotland all cooked to perfection with a lot of love involved really topped off a great few days on the boat.
5. All the people I met and saw again this week
Whisky is characterised by its people and the Islay festival is no differen to that. Be it my regular cabbie Neil who took calls whenever and turned up exactly when he said (you get used to Islay time not being monogomous to the numbers stated but he is glearly on GMT) or David at Laphroaig who was just great, a real genuine lovable chap with great stories (cannot believe his wife does not like Laphroaig yet given he has worked there for 30+ years and clearly has a bottle or two knocking around) or even the ship’s first mate Brendan who knew his stuff and convey really imporant information in calming tones that made you listen and care whilst calming everyone when they were maybe a tad nervous about getting into a small boat from a rickety wooden ladder in choppy water.
Feis Ile, for me was all about the kindness, the brilliance, the friendship, the banter, the humour, the quirkiness, the shear nature of everyone I met up with at Feis Ile 2015. You’re all awesome. Until next year, I’m taking a few days off.