Every year in the last week of May our wee town swells with dram-seekers from around the globe. The Islay Festival (or Fèis Ìle to give it its Sunday name) is perhaps the biggest event in the whisky calendar. Here on the West Coast, Inveraray is a natural stopping place for the hordes of whisky pilgrims on their way to the Queen of the Hebrides. We have almost every nationality you can think of passing through our shop’s red doors, each one looking to sample the water of life and find that dream dram.
Our favourite recommendation for these peat-heads is always our very own award-winning The Living Cask 1745, a blended malt made up exclusively of Islay single malts and inspired by our location here as the gateway to Islay. While this is always a popular dram among our peat-passionate customers, this year we have another two special drams to offer!
The first is our exclusive single cask release from Kilchoman. The distillery was founded in 2005, the first new distillery on the isle of Islay in 124 years, although it’s title of youngest Islay distillery has now been claimed by Ardnahoe distillery which opens this year. Kilchoman are sometimes called ‘Islay’s farm distillery’ for their dedication to a 100% Islay, grain to glass mentality with each part of the whisky-making process – growing barley, malting, distilling, maturing and bottling – all carried out on Islay. We are very lucky to have one of their 100% Islay casks, aged for 10 years in a fresh bourbon cask, bottled exclusively for Loch Fyne Whiskies. Limited to just 239 bottles, this is a uniquely Islay experience in a bottle.
The second is our annual single cask Feis Ile exclusive, which this year comes from Caol Ila distillery and has been bottled as part of the First Editions range exclusively for our customers by Hunter Laing & Co., an independent bottler and proprietor of the aforementioned Ardnahoe distillery. This single malt was distilled in 2011 and matured for six years before bottling for this year’s festival. Limited to just 120 bottles, each one at a natural cask strength of 56.4% abv, this is a fantastic dram with a full blast of Islay smoke.
However you choose to commemorate this year’s festival, make sure you take the time to savour a dram of the island’s favourite export!