Islay Festival of Malt & Music

On Saturday the 29th May 2004 The Islay Festival of Malt and Music kicked of again. This is the third year the Islay Whisky Club will be enjoying this fantastic event with Club Members and Islay Malt enthusiast’s from all over the world.

As in previous years, each distillery has a special programme of events for the one day. Each Distillery has their own Open Day with special tours and whisky events. In the evenings there is Music and Dance at different locations on the Island. Some of the Distilleries produce a limited edition of their best malt to celebrate the Festival. These Special Editions are only sold at the distillery during festival week and on the basis of one bottle per person.

The Islay Festival of Malt and Music 2004 was again a great success with visitors as far away as Australia and Iceland.

The Open Distillery Days were well organised and attended.

This was my third Islay Festival as President of the Islay Whisky Club and by speaking to many members and none members, who are regular visitors of the festival, many among them fear that the festival is going to be taken over by the’ Marketing Boys’ who seem to be trying to turn the festival into a commercial circus, I agree with them.

The Islay Festival of Malt and Music is for the people of Islay who have worked hard to make the festival a success and the visitors, who have gone to great length and expense to come to Islay; we want to talk and learn from the people who make our beloved product.

We do not want to be lectured by these’ Marketing Boys’ about how good the sales figures are and how many rewards they have won, this should be kept for the retailers etc. The majority of us come to Islay, during festival week, because we have a passion for Scottish Malts and particular Islay. We want to enjoy a nice dram with either the locals or the people who make it and meet fellow Malt Lovers from all over the world and listen to the beautiful Ceilidh’s in the evenings.

For many years The Feis Ile Committee ( who are local volunteers) have organised this event and have worked very hard and successfully, but are now in danger of being pushed aside by the professional marketer’s.

The Islay Festival of Malt and Music is unique in the world and that is how it should stay.

Ardbeg Distillery Manager, Stuart Tomson, summed it up when he said “We at Ardbeg Distillery have a passion for our product. People come to Islay because they have a passion for the Islay malts. Here at Ardbeg we will do everything in our power to make their visit unforgettable “.

The Islay Whisky Club organized this year activities in the Club House in the Ballygrant Inn.

On Wednesday we had The Howff Band playing in the function room and in one word they were outstanding. We started of at around 9.30 pm and they played nonstop till 2.30 am. Some local ladies joined in and taught us how to dance the Scottish Dances. Apart from some young male club members (who did not want to leave their ‘amber nectar’) everybody joined in and had a fantastic time.A special mention of Kim (our member from Japan) who surprised us all by moving over the dance floor like he was made of rubber, though he did not have a clue where he was meant to be, he got a big round of applause, which was well deserved.

Thursday, around 6 pm, club members gathered together for a chat and a dram followed by a fantastic buffet prepared by David, our Vice President and his lovely wife Ruby, then followed the Whisky Quiz.

Friday should have been a musical evening with a band from Jura but they cancelled at the very last minute. Needless to say we will not be inviting them back to play at the club.

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