Last night marked the start of the 2014 Feis Ile, the Islay Whisky Festival and what a fantastic opening it was, albeit not quite what was planned.

The Blueswater Concert at Lagavulin’s Malt Mill was scheduled to be four hours of entertainment from Edinburgh’s finest blues band. Unfortunately things got off to a rocky start when The Blueswater missed the ferry due to a road accident so, until they arrived on the next ferry some alternative events had to be pulled together at very short notice.

First up was distillery manager Georgie Crawford’s partner Neil singing a few Scottish folk songs before Diageo Ambassador Colin Dunn hosted a competition where a selection of the audience (including yours truly) were required to create a tasting note for the new Lagavulin Feis Ile and present it.

We were given a short time to taste the whisky and think about our description and then it was on with the show.

This years festival Lagavulin is a bit of an unusual one, being a 19 year old cask-strength whisky matured in European oak. It’s priced at £99 and limited to 3500 bottles.

The colour is quite golden for a sherried whisky, but the influence is quite apparent when you taste it.

On the nose, there is the trademark Lagavulin iodine along with a little smoke and some toffee sweetness. Tasting the whisky brings sweet raisins and fruit cake flavours, along with a hints of marzipan; the full Christmas cake.

The finish is the best part in my opinion – very clean at first but just when you think it’s going to disappear, the smoke comes in and thick dry leathery notes fill your mouth and linger for a while. Overall it’s a very clean, pleasant dram and even with the alcohol strength, it’s not overpowering.

Definitely recommended.

The description above earned me 2nd place in the competition, and a bottle of the new Friends of the Classic Malts expression which was a welcome surprise.

Feis-Ile-May-2014-0200
All prizes gratefully received

The band finally arrived, set up in record time and treated us to a great selection of tunes. The drinks and music flowed right until the night was forced into a close.

A great start to the festival and thanks to Colin, Georgie and her team at Lagavulin for saving the night.

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