Ardbeg Blaaack Committee Release

Ardbeg Blaaack Committee Release

The annual Ardbeg Committee release has become an inevitability in many ways. Firstly, owner LVMH aren’t going to miss the chance to launch a special, limited-edition whisky to the Ardbeg fan club that will definitely sell out. Secondly, the members of the Ardbeg fan club aren’t going to miss the chance to complain about a special, limited-edition whisky released for them that will definitely sell out.

In a dance as old as time…

This year’s offering at the altar of whisky fan consumption and internet abuse is the most quirkily named yet: Ardbeg Blaack.

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Laphroaig Càirdeas 2019 – Cask Strength Triple Wood

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2019

When it comes to whisky festival releases, Laphroaig has one of the longest-runnning traditions. Since 2008, the distillery has produced a bottle for Fèis Ìle – the Islay Festival of Malt and Music – as part of the same series: Càirdeas. The 2019 release is a fan request become reality – Laphroaig Càirdeas Triple Wood Original Cask Strength.

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Port Charlotte Transparency and the Bruichladdich Feis Ile Masterclass

Bruichladdich Warehouse Tasting

One of the most coveted tickets of the yearly Islay Festival (Feis Ile) is the Bruichladdich Feis Ile Masterclass – a chance for a few hundred of the distillery’s biggest fans to try not only the yearly festival bottling, but also taste hidden delights from deep in the well-stocked warehouses. This year, I finally made it along.

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127.44: Cantina Mexicana – the SMWS return to Fèis Ile

127.44 – Cantina Mexicana

It’s impressive how quickly 12 months can pass by. This time last year, I was trying to work out how to both get to the Islay Festival of Malt and Music – Fèis Ile to its friends and about 50,000 Scottish gaelic speakers – and travel around the island once I got there. My companion during this ‘planning’ was a dram from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, their first bottled in celebration of the festival. This year I can’t make it to Islay, so instead I’m looking at other people’s plans with a new whisky compantion – the SMWS’s second festival bottling, 127.44: Cantina Mexicana.

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Caol Ila Feis Ile 2014 and 2013

Caol Ila

In a change form my normal obsessive note-taking, this year’s trip to Islay for Feis Ile, the “Festival of Malt and Music”, was surprisingly note free. I’m still trying to work out whether this was a deliberate choice, to step back and enjoy the experience in the moment without feeling a need to record it for posterity, or whether I just drank too much and lost the ability to write coherently. In the meantime I need to get the few notes I did scribble out of my notebook and brain and into the ether, so as to cement them in history rather than disappear slowly from my leaky head.

So, a pair of festival bottllings – Caol Ila Feis Ile 2014 and also last year’s, the 2013.

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Octomore Discovery – Bruichladdich Feis Ile 2014

After years of trying, I’ve finally made it to what is often seen as an essential pilgrimage in the life of a whisky geek: I’ve come to Islay for Feis Ile – the festival of malt and music. Each distillery has an open day and at least one limited edition whisky, most of which are only available on the island. I’m staying a few minutes walk away from Bruichladdich and tried their Feis Ile bottling during their open day on Sunday, the quite ridiculous Octomore Discovery.

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