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Islay Feis Ile Festival 2017 Bottles


© The Islay Festival of Music and Malt

Spring is almost upon us (or already upon us as far as I’m concerned) and you know what does it mean, right? Yes, time for the annual post of the Feis Ile Festival bottles.

This year, the festival will run from late May into June 2017 (26th May to 3rd June 2017) and unlike the previous two years, there will be no special celebrations this year, just a “normal” festival but still it will be a exciting festival.

This post will detail all the available information on the festival bottles and I’ll update it each time more details will be revealed.

If you look for the full festival information, go to the Festival site at and you can find the full Islay Festival Distillery Programmes 2017 here when it will be published.

It’s a safe bet that just like previous years, we will have more Feis Ile bottlings from other independent bottlers and other sources – all will be updated in the post when the information will be released.

25/05/2017 Update: Bruichladdich bottle updated and added Loch Fyne Feis Ile Laphroaig
25/05/2017 Update: Lagavulin and Caol Ila bottles updated.
23/05/2017 Update #2:  Thanks to Pascal from we have further information on Bunnahabhain and Kilchoman bottles. They sounds nice!
23/05/2017 Update: Elements of Islay Ar9! I think we now know all about the independent bottles for Feis 2017 🙂

So here’s the list of Feis Ile 2017 bottlings and the available information:

Lagavulin – Open day on Saturday 27th May 2017

Continue reading


Islay Feis Ile Festival 2016 Bottles

feis-logo-newFeis Ile 2016 is not far off, so it’s time for the annual post (third year in a row!) of the Feis Ile Festival bottles.

This year, the festival will run from 21st to 28th May 2016 and Lagavulin will probably be the highlight of the festival due to the distillery’s 200th anniversary celebrations (following last year’s events at Laphroaig and Ardbeg), so it will probably be a very interesting and exciting festival (I keep saying that in the annual post, but it’s the truth!).

This post will detail all the available information on the festival bottles and I’ll update it each time more details will be revealed.

If you look for the full festival information, go to the Festival site at and you can find the full Islay Festival Distillery Programmes 2016 here

Just like last year, there’s a Feis Ile bottlings by Douglas Laing, Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS), Islay House and there’s even a special Finlaggan bottling.

22/5/2016 Update: Bruichladdich Feis 2016 bottling
21/5/2016 Update: Lagavulin, Caol Ila & Kilchoman Feis 2016 bottlings
20/5/2016 Update: Finlaggan Feis 2016 bottling & Bruichladdich general details
18/5/2016 Update: Islay House Feis bottling
18/5/2016 Update: Jura Tastival 2016 ABV & European price revealed
30/3/2016 Update: Bowmore Feis Ile bottes info and Douglas Laing Old Particular Bowmore 1999 Feis Ile 2016 Commemorative Bottling
23/3/2016 Update: Douglas Laing Big Peat’s Feis Ile 2016 Commemorative Bottling
15/3/2016 Update: Lagavulin single cask 1991 25yo to benefit Islay community
14/3/2016 Update: Laphroaig Cairdeas 2016 details and the two Bunnahabhain bottles.

So here’s the list of Feis Ile 2016 bottlings and the available information: 

Lagavulin – Open day on Saturday 21st May 2016

  • lagavulin 18 feis ile 2016Lagavulin 18 Year Old Feis Ile 2016 (49.5%, £125, 6000 bottles)

The Lagavulin Festival bottling comes from a blend of refill American Oak and ex Bodega European Oak casks. Bottled at cask strength, it will be a limited edition run of 6,000 bottles

  • Lagavulin 1991 25 Year Old

This charity cask content will probably show up later this year.

Bruichladdich – Open day on Sunday 22nd May 2016

  • bruichladdich phd135Bruichladdich Feis Ile 2016 15 yo (50%, £95)

Bruichladdiche Festival bottle (Feis 2016) is a vatting of bourbon casks, wine casks and ACE-ed in virgin oak for about a month. A 2001 Vintage (15 Years Old) and Malt was lightly peated at 10ppm.

  • bruichladdich chalice barleyBruichladdich Valinch 2006 Islay Dunlossit (Chalice Barley) (61%, £75)
  • Bruichladdich Valinch 2008 Islay Starchmill (Chalice Barley) (£75)

There will be three unique bottlings available to buy on the day. Adam Hannett has created a vatting from casks distilled back in 2001, the momentous year when Bruichladdich reopened after six silent years. He has also chosen two uber-provenance casks that were filled with spirit distilled from barley grown on single Islay farms, Starchmill and Dunlossit.

Caol Ila – Open day on Monday 23rd May 2016

  • caol ila 12 feis ile 2016Caol Ila 12 Year Old (5X.2%, £99, 1500 bottles)

The Caol Ila single cask bottling is also a blend of refill American Oak and ex Bodega European Oak casks. Bottled at cask strength, with a limited edition run of 1,500 bottles, this is a unique, more sherried expression than might be expected of a Caol Ila

Laphroaig – Open day on Tuesday 24th May 2016

  • Laphroaig Cairdeas 2016 (Madeira cask) – 51.6%

laphroaig cairdeas 2016 madeira casklaphroaig cairdeas 2016 madeira cask backThe Laphroaig Feis Ile 2016 offering is the Cairdeas 2016 which is ex-bourbon matured and then married/finished in Madeira seasoned hogsheads.


Bowmore – Open day on Wednesday 25th 2016

  • Bowmore Feis Ile 2016 (American Virgin Oak & Oloroso casks) 54.9%, 1500 bottles , £55

Our exclusive Feis Ile release this year is an extraordinary and curious marriage of 4 American Virgin Oak Barrels and a 1st fill Oloroso Sherry Butt re-racked and married together in the original oak, this is a whisky not to be missed! 1500 bottles will be available to buy exclusively from the distillery visitor centre from Saturday the 21st of May at 10am.

  • Bowmore 25 Year Old Feis Ile 2016 – 200 bottles,  £350

Our exclusive Vintage Feis Ile Edition is a breath-taking 25 year old Bowmore, which has been lovingly finished in French Oak Wine Casks for over 12 years. Only 200 bottles of this precious liquid will be available to buy, exclusively on Wednesday the 25th of May! Golden Tickets will be issued to the first 100 people queuing at the distillery, thereafter you will be able buy and collect your bottle from 10am from the “Taste” bistro (must be collected by 4.30pm)

  • Fill You Own – £100

This year’s “Bottle Your Own” for Feis Ile has been maturing since the 20th of January 1999 and is the first of our hand fills to be matured exclusively in Pedro Ximenez European Oak Our “vaults experience” will be available to buy and hand fill from 10am on Saturday the 21st of May (Maximum of 4 bottles per person – pre filled bottles will be available for multiple bottle buys to reduce congestion and waiting times)

Jura – Open day on Thursday 26th May 2016

  • jura tastival 2016Jura Tastival 2016 – triple sherry finish (51%, £84.95/€129)

Finished in Palomino Fino, Amoroso Oloroso and Apostoles Oloroso Sherry casks.

Kilchoman – Open day on Thursday 26th May 2016

  • Kilchoman 2007 Feis Ile 2016 (£90, sherry cask, 637 bottles)

This year we have chosen Oloroso sherry butt 429/2007, the oldest sherry cask we have released to date. Bottled at cask strength, there are just 637 bottles available from this single cask

The Feis Ile release is only available from the distillery and will go on sale at 10am next Thursday – one bottle per person at £90

Bunnahabhain – Open day on Friday 27th May 2016

As usual, Bunnahabhain Feis Ile 2016 line up contains two bottles:

  • bunna feis ile 2016Moine Pedro Ximenez 12-Year-Old – £95, 833 bottles, 54.6%

A peated (Moine is peat in Scots Gaelic) 2004 vintage that was aged in casks (unspecified but probably ex-bourbon) for nine years before being finished for three additional years in PX casks

  • Amontillado 16-Year-Old – £250, 250 bottles

the high end expression: Ten years spent in bourbon casks and six additional years in Amontillado casks.

Ardbeg – Open day on Saturday 28th May 2016

  • Ardbeg Dark Cove – 55%/46.5% (£95.99)

dark cove work in progress oct 2015ardbeg dark cove feis 2016Ardbeg Feis Ile 2016 offering is influenced by “dark sherry casks”, That probably means strong sherry notes influence on the whisky, but not necessary stronger than Uigeadail. The Feis Ile edition is bottled at 46.5% while the community version is 55% (which may not be available during Feis)ץ

Douglas Laing

  • douglas laing Big Peat Feis Ile BottlingBig Peat Feis Ile 2016 – 48%, 500 bottles

Just 500 bottles of the Feis Ile edition will be produced, each individually numbered. It will be sold on allocation to global distribution partners, as well as during the festival on Islay. 50 bottles are available to pre-order now from Douglas, with a limited edition poster included, and signed by Fred Laing, for good measure.


  • Old Particular Bowmore (Feis Ile Limited Edition) 1999 DL11107 OLD0298Old Particular Bowmore 1999 Feis Ile 2016 – 48.3%, 246 bottles

246 bottles were charged from a single hogshead cask of Bowmore 16 Years Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky, which was distilled in September 1999 and bottled in March 2016. It is bottled at natural cask strength of 48.3%, without colouring or chill-filtration, and is said to be “classically Islay” in character, displaying bold maritime, smoky and leathery notes on the nose, palate and finish.

It will be sold on allocation to distributors in key markets globally.

Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS)

  • SMWS 127.44 cantina mexicana127.44 Cantina Mexicana, Port Charlotte 12 yo ex-sherry butt (SMWS Members: £120 Non SMWS Members: £240)

The nose was snout-grabbing – woody, like old sea chests or a dusty Mexican cantina floor (including leather boots and fag-ends), lots of liquorice; figs and oriental spices, then a beef stew with sherry and smoked paprika in it. The neat taste was simply huge – smoke, ash and burnt sticks; Moffat toffees, Liquorice Allsorts, balsamic pears and Amontillado sherry.

Islay House

  • islay house feis 2016Port Charlotte 2005 , 10 Years Old, Matured in Premium French Oak (£100)



  • finlaggan feis 2016Finlaggan 10 Year Old Feis 2016 Edition (£50)

Book Review: Malt Whisky Yearbook 2016

One third of October is already behind us. It means we’re closer to X-mas, the Whisky Exchange Show is behind us and a new a new Malt Whisky Yearbook was released. I got my signed copy of the 2016 edition (Thanks Micheal!) just in time to accompany me during the weekend.

malt whisky yearbook 2016

This year, the book have a new layout, making it feels fresher but the content is mostly unchanged. Like every edition, the book is generally divided into four sections: Continue reading

Islay Feis Ile Festival 2015 Bottlings Summary

feis-logo-newLast years post on the Feis Ile 2014 bottles was a smash hit so it’s time for a repeat with a new post on the 2015 Islay Festival Feis Ile bottles!

Like last year, the festival will run from 23rd to 31st of May 2015 and with two prominent distilleries, Ardbeg and Laphroaig, celebrating their 200 year since (official) foundation year, its bound to be a very interesting and exciting festival.

This post will detail all the available information on the festival bottlings and I’ll update it each time more details will be revealed.

If you look for the full festival information, go to the Festival site at and you can find the full Islay Festival Distillery Programmes 2015 here

In addition to the official bottlings by the distilleries, there’s a plethora of special Feis Ile bottlings by external organizations such as Douglas Laing, SMWS and the Islay House Hotel.

So here’s the list of Feis Ile 2015 bottlings and the available information:


Lagavulin – Open day on Saturday 23th May 2015

Continue reading

Is basic Scotch quality degrading or is it just our imagination? Musings following a blind tasting competition

Last month I participated in a blind tasting competition. Yeah, again. I know, I should see a shrink about this but I don’t have spare $$ for it as I spend the money on whisky. Besides, if I stop buying whisky in order to save the money for the shrink, The problem will naturally get dissolved and I won’t need it so why bother? 😉

Anyway, the competition was held here locally in Israel and contained 14 blind drams ranging from Glenlivet 12yo to Talisker 18yo with a few oddballs thrown in. Naturally I had many failures but too many revealed whiskies made me pull my hair, curse and scream “how did I miss that one?”

Photo Credit: Shai Gilboa

Photo Credit: Shai Gilboa

Here, take those short notes and try guessing the whisky:

Question_mark_(black_on_white)Nose: Crisp, dry and sharp peat smoke, very clean. There’s noticeable sherry sweetness here, malty, Doesn’t smell like high ABV nor 40%

Palate: Strong harsh dry peat, sherry sweetness.

Finish: Long, peat and ashes, lingering sherry sweetness.

Age: Young as there’s strong malt notes.

ABV: It feels like 46%

My guess for this one was Kilchoman Loch Gorm (5yo, 46%) but of course I was wrong. (keep reading for true identity).

Blind competitions are hard. many times it’s not easy to detect the finish type (sherry and port are very similar), different whiskies can smell and taste the same or very similar. your smell and taste senses works different on any given day. And you know what? it’s even harder to detect the whisky if it’s not a single cask bottling. Yes, I do think it’s harder to detect batch produced whisky than single casks and it leads me to the worrying trends I saw from this tasting:

1. For many basic whiskies the distillery trademark notes are diminished  – Too many distilleries trademark notes, those we tend to associate with whiskies from this distillery, for decades if not for longer, were missing.

For example, our bottle of Glenlivet 12? It didn’t have the expected green apples notes I was used to find in Glenlivet bottles. Remember the tasting notes above? No, it wasn’t Kilchoman – it was Laphroaig 10. It had very weak iodine and maritime notes. The Oban 10 wasn’t barely coastal and maritime. The Auchentoshan 12 didn’t have the smoothness I tend to associate with triple distillation and with heavier sherry influence, and there were more…

At first I thought it’s only my imagination, as for some of those whiskies, I last tasted them 2-3 years ago. But I then compared the notes I wrote for them with previous notes and remarks I had and other competitors remarks and it seems I wasn’t alone with this conclusion. I also checked past reviews from blogs I trust and it all led to the second and even more worrying trend:

2. There’s a batch quality degrade overtime – Folks, for too many basic expressions, the whisky we taste now differs from the same whisky of 2-3 years ago. The truth is that the distilleries can’t meet up the demand without sacrifices and we probably cannot trust the distilleries to really keep all batches up to the high standard.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it’s by design but I have no other explanation to the difference. Maybe not all casks going into the vatting now are top quality,  Maybe for each batch they strive to make it as close as possible to the previous batch, but all those minor changes between batches accumulate and coupled with the rising demand and lack of resources, makes those entry level whiskies different from the batches of few years ago. There’s always a gradual change in whisky but in the last few years it’s been so a rapid change that the taste is now different and it takes just 2-3 years to notice it instead of 5-8 years.

What does the future holds for us? Probably no good news. As long as the demand is on the rise, the batch consistency and taste will keep changing (and for worse in my opinion) more rapidly than before. Does it means that quality is degrading? What should we do? I think it means you need to stock up bottles of whiskies you love now. The same whisky may be utterly different despite having the same label and distillery recipe. It’s a process I’ve already started working according to, trying to buy whisky I like now and not wait and buy it in the future. And I intend to keep doing so as long as I can as I don’t want to get so disappointed in the future. You should so too!

Book Review: Malt Whisky Yearbook 2015

We’re deep into October and it means that a new Malt Whisky Yearbook was released. I got my copy of the 2015 edition last week (bought and signed at the TWE whisky show, Thanks Michael!) and I spent the last week going over it and enjoying it a lot.


Since it’s the first time I’m reviewing the MWY on the blog let me tell you what’s in it:

The first part contains different articles from various knowledgeable writers covering different aspects and fields on whisky. This year there are chapters on: Continue reading

Islay Feis Ile Festival 2014 Bottlings Summary

Update (2/7/2014) – Most of the bottles can be found on auction sites, so no further updates with shop links. If you find a bottle available on a web shop, let me know and I’ll update the post.

Update (2/6/2014) – I’ll update the post in the coming few days (or weeks) with shopping links where available. Be warned there are good chances it will be expensive. Also, I’m sure most of the bottles will show up in the next auctions round so you may want to try your luck there too.


The 2014 Islay Festival Feis Ile is almost upon us. It will run from 23rd to 31st of May 2014 and unfortunately I won’t be there 😦

As a whisky geek I’m very interested in the special Festival bottlings and created this post to centralize all available information on them. I’ll update this post once more details on the bottlings will be revealed.

If you look for the full festival information, go to the Festival site at and you can find the full Islay Festival Distillery Programmes 2014 here

Here’s the list of Feis Ile 2014 bottlings:

lagavulin-feis-ile-2014Lagavulin – Open day Saturday 24th May 2014

  • Lagavulin Feis Ile 2014, 54.7%, 3500 bottles, £99

Drawn from casks filled in January 1995. Matured in European Oak Sherry Butts, the liquid was personally selected by Lagavulin warehouseman Iain McArthur.


ocotmorediscoveryBruichladdich – Open day on Sunday 25th May 2014

  • Octomore Discovery – 69.5%, 1,695 bottles, £150

Quadruple distilled and matured for seven years in Oloroso sherry butts.


 caol ila feis ile 2014Caol Ila – Open day on Monday 26th May 2014

  •  Caol Ila Feis Ile 2014 – 55.5%, 1500 bottles, £99

It’s a 12 year old whisky, distilled in 2002 and bottled in 2014 from Refill American Oak Hogsheads. Will go on sale at 10am on Monday 26th May 2014. (From @IslayStudios Twitter feed. Thanks Billy for pointing me at this!)

  • Buy here for £150 (Green Welly shop)
  • Buy here for £137.6 (Master of Malt)


laphroaig-cairdeas-2014Laphroaig – Open day on Tuesday 27th May 2014

  • Cairdeas 2014, 51.4%, £65

Based on the text printed on the back label it’s a double matured Laphroaig from bourbon casks and Amontillado seasoned traditional hogsheads. (Amontillado sherry is darker than Fino but lighter than Oloroso)

  • Buy here for £90 (Green Welly Shop)
  • Buy here for £88.3 (Master of Malt)

Bowmore – Open day on Wednesday 28th 2014

  • Bowmore Feis Ile 2014 – 56,1%, 1000 Bottles, £50

1st fill American oak bourbon barrels. 700 bottles will go on sale at the Distillery Visitor Centre from 10am on Saturday 24th May. The remaining 300 bottles will go on sale on Wednesday 28th May.

  • Bowmore Feis Ile 2014 1989 Vintage – 300 Bottles, £350

1989 1st fill American  bourbon barrel and a 1989 1st fill French oak wine barrique

In addition there are 2 more Fill your own bottle:

Bowmore Hand-Filled Red wine cask, £100, distilled 22 July 1998, 57,1%. (SOLD OUT)
Bowmore Hand-Filled 1st Fill Oloroso Sherry Cask, 49,4%, £95, distilled 1995, Cask No’1572.

jura tastivalJura – Open day on Thursday 29th May 2014

  • Jura Tastival – 44%, 3000 bottles, £75

A concoction of seven finishes: Jupilles, Les Bertanges, Limousin, Troncais, Allier, Vosges and American White Oak, married in Sherry butts.

  • Buy here for £75 (Jura webshop, UK only)
  • Buy here for £84.95 (The Whisky Exchange)


kilchoman feis ile 2014Kilchoman – Open day on Thursday 29th May 2014

  • Kilchoman Feis Ile 2014, 58.7%, 525 bottles, £79.50

Matured for over 5 years in two fresh bourbon barrels and finished in a fino sherry butt for 3 months. (Picture found via Abbey Whisky Blog here). Will go on sale on Thursday 29th May.

Bunnahabhain-Dràm-an-StiùreadairBunnahabhain – Open day on Friday 29th May 2014

  • Dràm an Stiùreadair (The Helmsman’s Dram)  – 56.7%, 632 bottles, £95

This is a 10-year-old single malt which was first matured in ex-American Bourbon casks for nine years before being finished for one year in a Marsala cask.

  • Bunnahabhain-Westering-HomeWestering Home – 53.4%, 301 bottles ,£250

17-year-old single malt matured in a rich ex-Cognac cask and then finished in a Sauternes wine cask

aruiverdesArdbeg – Open day on Saturday 31st May 2014

  • Ardbeg Auriverdes – 49.9%, £80

Matured in American oak casks with specially toasted cask lids which were tailor-made for this whisky.

Buy here for 155,00 €