THE ILEACH :: THE INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER FOR ISLAY + JURA
In this week's issue:

Fèis Ìle online, Cllr, Currie calees for tighter travel controls, Islay Show cancelled, How we're exercising during lockdown, Mary McGragor's 15 minutes of fame, Port Ellen Cybercafe's funding boost, Council prepares for schools return, Bruichladdich distillery's new status, Kayaking round Scotland, Cask Whisperer's whisky quiz, Islay Word Search, Spot the difference.

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Excerpts from issue 47/16 23 May 2020

Fis le online
A World of Whisky on the Web

Following the cancellation of this year's whisky festival, there are people across the globe heartbroken at not being able to visit Islay for their annual pilgrimage. However, there is a light at the end of the bottle, or even the barrel!
Fèis Ìle is going online, with ten days of different recordings, tastings, live footage and music galore.
The Committee and all of the distilleries have been busy behind the scenes - socially distanced of course - to make sure that people from around the world can still sample their Islay atmosphere, music and revelry.
Though it's no replacement for the real event, having an online festival this year has been viewed as positive by many, with an opportunity to showcase Islay and its culture around the world. With all nine Islay distilleries taking part, plus online events from Islay Ales, Nerabus Gin, Lussa Gin, Islay Mist, Dramfool and the SMWS, it means people can still take part, and even have their distillery days viewed by a much larger (virtual) audience than usual.
There will be the usual focus on local musicians and dancers throughout the week, and there will be at least one video every day featuring local performers. The usual Folk Night and Ceilidh will also be online.
Committee Chair, Florence Grey, said, "I think it's wonderful how all of our performers have come together during this difficult time to show off the best of the Islay spirit."
With the eyes of many in the whisky world already on the countdown to Fèis Ìle 2021, it's good to see Islay putting on such a good show. We hope you all tune in, and share with the world the best Islay has to offer. Keep your eyes on the Festival Facebook page @feisile.islay for updates and information.
On Saturday evening (23 May), Islay Mist will feature cocktails with Kyle from the 'Nauticus' Bar.
On Sunday 24, Bruichladdich distillery will release their new, snappily-named Port Charlotte OLC:01 whisky online. Matured in sherry casks, derived from their long-standing partnership with Fernando de Castilla, head distiller, Adam Hannett said "These Oloroso hogsheads are superb casks. They're smaller than your average butts, so they've quickly left a lasting impression on this complex single malt."
Also launched this month, via an online ballot system, were 3,000 bottles of a limited-edition Port Charlotte 16 release. Owing to the popularity of their online releases, the folks at Bruichladdich realised that this was the only way to protect their website from crashing (again)!
On Monday 25 May, Islay Ales will take you from Portnahaven through Port Charlotte, to the brewery in Bridgend. This will be followed by a tour of the brewery showing the process, followed by a song from Reely Jiggered.
They're including a beer masterclass with the five beer, core range, and a whisky masterclass from sister company, Islay Boys Ltd. There will then be a recorded Zoom call to discuss the future brewery project.
On the evening of Tuesday 26, Laphroaig distillery will have a Live virtual tasting, augmented with how to make Laphroaig Cocktails at home, competitions, the online launch of their festival bottle and performances from Reely Jiggered.
For those who wish to participate rather than watch from the sidelines, bundles are available to purchase from laphroaig.com
Ardnahoe begin their day at 3pm on Wednesday 27 May, where revellers are invited to join manager, Fraser Hughes, in an online conversation about new-make spirit and the spirit currently maturing in warehouse number 1. Fraser will also answer questions already submitted from around the world.
Bowmore will feature a mixture or pre-recorded and live content running on Wednesday evening commencing at 6:30pm These will be offered through their social media channels and a micro-site on Bowmore's website.
Distillery Manager, David Turner and the Beam Suntory Master of Spirits Ambassador, Iain McCallum, will present. Prior to this, viewers will experience a tour of the Vaults and a cookery demonstration.
Kilchoman distillery have a busy day planned for Thursday 28, starting at noon with Islay Heads discussing all things barley and continuing with the entire distilling process throughout the afternoon, culminating in live tastings in the early evening. If you'd like to join in the latter, tasting packs may still be available via the distillery website.
Friday evening will see a one-hour presentation from Rachel MacNeill's Islay Whisky Academy from 7pm - 8pm.
Ardbeg's Blaaack Whisky Trials will be broadcast on 30 May via Facebook to Ardbeg fans around the world. The two-hour programme of tastings, games, and entertainment is in celebration of the Ardbeg Committee's 20th Anniversary. It takes as its theme the Limited Edition bottled in their honour.
Manager, Mickey Heads said, "We've put our heads together to keep our Committee Members entertained, and safe at home.
"I'll be shepherding the Ardbeg team in an online extravaganza including tastings of some much-loved whiskies, fun, blether, and maybe even a few Blaaack-inspired surprises."

Ardbeg Blaaack will be available to buy around the world from 30 May, although distribution may be a bit delayed in some markets due to the current coronavirus restrictions.
The final Saturday has also been designated 'Gin Day', with both Nerabus Islay Gin and Lussa Gin broadcasting videos online. Audrey Gow told the Ileach, "The video is shot at the shop in Islay House Square, where John and I talk through a perfect serve. Then my son George (who is in Oxford) will demonstrate how to make a Martini with Nerabus Gin."
Jura's Lussa Gin are planning on doing a tour of their stable distillery on Saturday 30 May. Claire Fletcher told us, "We'll attempt a bit of virtual foraging with spring currently in full flow, so ground elder needs picking and the first of the lemon balm and water mint and possibly some sea lettuce."
Unfortunately, at the time of going to press,we had not received any information from Bunnahabhain, Lagavulin, or Caol Ila.
The Festival week ends on Sunday 31 May, with an online ceilidh from 7pm-8pm.
Festival committee member, Ben Shakespeare, advised us that times of all events were approximate, due to the nature of the online beast. At least this year, even the designated drivers can enjoy a dram.

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ISLAY & THE COVID-19 VIRUS: IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Last updated Thursday 21 May 2020

Prepared for the benefit of Islay residents, this downloadable PDF file offers general information along with details of the Islay Volunteer Network and the state of play with regard to local businesses and services. This will be updated regularly, so please check this page daily.

DOWNLOAD HERE

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Stay away

CalMac are continuing to impress upon would-be ferry passengers, that their sailings are only open for essential travel during the current lockdown conditions.
According to a CalMac spokesman, passenger numbers increased on the Islay route by about one-third last week.
"This is due to increased activity from distilleries preparing to ramp up production again and also due to islanders travelling to the mainland for goods, rather than people visiting the island."
The rules, however, have not changed. CalMac is actively turning people away who are not able to produce the evidence required of island residency or key worker status.
They continued, "We have posters around our entire network making it clear under what circumstances you can travel. However, it is important to note that we do not have police or civic powers.
"If even stricter measures are required then this is a matter of Government policy and would require a political solution. We all have a part to play in this because the existing guidelines are clear."

CalMac also told the Ileach that the ferry company had currently furloughed around 130 staff at present, and had refunded over £2.5 million to passengers who had booked for sailings in advance.

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Still here

The Ileach is now in its 47th year and has weathered more than just a few economic downturns in its time, local, national and global. However, the current situation is unprecedented in our lifetimes.
With every intention of heading towards forty eight years and beyond, we will continue to produce the newspaper for as long as is practical and possible. And just as in previous times of difficulty, we would appreciate your support in making this happen.
Although the office in Main Street, Bowmore is closed to the public, there will still be staff in the office Monday - Friday, 10am - 1pm. If you have stories to tell, articles to submit or need to advertise your services, please call on 01496 810 355, or e-mail theileach@ileach.co.uk
To keep up to date with important local information, please check our twitter feed @theileach or check this page regularly.
If you're staying at home and unable to pick up a paper copy, why not consider a PDF subscription? Annual cost is £27. We thank you and appreciate your continued support.
Stay safe.

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NEXT ISSUE ON SALE, Saturday 6 June 2020

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