The Feis Ile is the Scottish island of Islay’s annual festival of “Malt and Music.” Held every year during the last week of May with an variety of activities and events across Islay as well as on the neighbouring island Jura, the Feis Ile is considered to be one of the most important events on any true whisky lover’s calendar. The festival is without doubt a great way to enjoy the best of Scottish living. Officially, the festival started in 1984 as a homespun celebration of local Gaelic music. But the last week of May has traditionally been a time for islanders and folks from mainland Britain alike to come together on Islay for a ceilidh (Gaelic word for “gathering”).
Despite a population of only around 3500 residents, Islay is home to eight whisky distilleries (and many connoisseurs would say some of the best in the world) such as award winning Scotch labels Ardbeg, Bowmore, Lagavulin and Laphroaig. So it’s only natural that the island’s whisky makers eventually got in on the fun by adding a distinctively peaty single malt flavour to the festival’s events.
For this year’s festival, Islay and Jura’s distilleries will open their doors to the public throughout the week with tours, tastings and music events. There also will be golf, bowling and fishing competitions. And for those wishing to further immerse themselves in the local culture, a range of Gaelic language and singing workshops will be on offer as well.
2013 also marks the 50th anniversary for Jura distillery. Although the distillery was actually built and operating in the 1800s, it closed during the first World War and didn’t start production again until 1958. On the 29th and 30th of May, the Feis Ile festivities will be focused on Jura where visitors to the distillery will be able to learn about the rebirth of the distillery firsthand and, of course, taste their malts, including samples of a special festival bottling with liquid aged in vintage 1963 sherry butts along with a unique 39 ¾ year old whisky.
This year’s Feis Ile will run from the 24th of May until the 1st of June. For more information about the 2013 festivities visit theislayfestival.co.uk.
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