Reserve Your Tickets For David Wood’s Masterclasses at The Islay Whisky Festival 2019

Caol Ila Distillery Manager

Whisky Tasting Masterclasses at The Islay Whisky Festival 2019

Once again former Caol Ila Distillery Manager David Wood will be hosting exclusive Islay Single Malt Whisky Masterclasses on Islay during the Islay Whisky Festival 2019. This is an opportunity to attend a tasting featuring drams from the different distilleries on Islay hosted by a former Islay distillery manager.

David has no links to any distilleries so his tastings give guests an unbiased look in to the distilling industry across the island of Islay. During the evening guests will be tasting some awesome drams, both proprietary bottlings and independently bottled drams. Most will be small batch releases and cask strength releases.

At the Islay Whisky Festival 2019 David will be hosting two masterclasses with a maximum of 32 guests at each. Spaces are very limited so if you would like to reserve tickets please be in touch as soon as possible. Both masterclasses will take place at Islay Studios in Bridgend Square at the following dates and times:

MONDAY 27TH MAY 6.30PM – TICKETS £40

TUESDAY 28TH MAY 6.30PM – TICKETS £40

If you would like tickets for either of these events please click the relevant link above or complete the contact form below.

Islay Whisky Festival 2019

The 2019 Islay Whisky Festival is set to begin on Friday 24th May and run for just over a week until Saturday 1st June. Just like last year, we will be hosting a number of whisky masterclasses. Our tasting events on Islay are very special because we show whiskies from each of the distilleries as we are not tied to any of them. Our tasting events are therefore biased to one thing, Islay whiskies!

Islay Whisky Festival 2019 Distillery Events

There are currently 9 distilleries on Islay, and soon to be 10 once the new Port Ellen Distillery is commissioned in 2020. There is also a distillery on Jura, the neighbouring island, Jura Distillery. The other distilleries which will be holding special events throughout the week are Ardbeg, Ardnahoe, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Lagavulin, Caol Ila, Bowmore, Kilchoman, Laphroaig and Jura.

The distillery events programmes tend to be released a couple of months before the whisky festival commences. Once published, you will be able to book tickets for events at each distillery, but be sure to keep an eye out as they book up very quickly!

We hope to see you at one of our tasting events at the Islay Whisky Festival 2019!

Slainte and happy drams!

David

David Wood Islay

 

Reserve Your Tickets For David Wood’s Masterclasses at The Islay Whisky Festival 2019

Caol Ila Distillery Manager

Whisky Tasting Masterclasses at The Islay Whisky Festival 2019

Once again former Caol Ila Distillery Manager David Wood will be hosting exclusive Islay Single Malt Whisky Masterclasses on Islay during the Islay Whisky Festival 2019. This is an opportunity to attend a tasting featuring drams from the different distilleries on Islay hosted by a former Islay distillery manager.

David has no links to any distilleries so his tastings give guests an unbiased look in to the distilling industry across the island of Islay. During the evening guests will be tasting some awesome drams, both proprietary bottlings and independently bottled drams. Most will be small batch releases and cask strength releases.

At the Islay Whisky Festival 2019 David will be hosting two masterclasses with a maximum of 32 guests at each. Spaces are very limited so if you would like to reserve tickets please be in touch as soon as possible. Both masterclasses will take place at Islay Studios in Bridgend Square at the following dates and times:

MONDAY 27TH MAY 6.30PM – TICKETS £40

TUESDAY 28TH MAY 6.30PM – TICKETS £40

PLEASE NOTE THAT IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO RESERVE TICKETS FOR EITHER OF THESE EVENTS PLEASE COMPLETE THE CONTACT FORM BELOW. TICKETS WILL THEN BE ISSUED ON OR AFTER 1ST APRIL 2019.

Islay Whisky Festival 2019

The 2019 Islay Whisky Festival is set to begin on Friday 24th May and run for just over a week until Saturday 1st June. Just like last year, we will be hosting a number of whisky masterclasses. Our tasting events on Islay are very special because we show whiskies from each of the distilleries as we are not tied to any of them. Our tasting events are therefore biased to one thing, Islay whiskies!

Islay Whisky Festival 2019 Distillery Events

There are currently 9 distilleries on Islay, and soon to be 10 once the new Port Ellen Distillery is commissioned in 2020. There is also a distillery on Jura, the neighbouring island, Jura Distillery. The other distilleries which will be holding special events throughout the week are Ardbeg, Ardnahoe, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Lagavulin, Caol Ila, Bowmore, Kilchoman, Laphroaig and Jura.

The distillery events programmes tend to be released a couple of months before the whisky festival commences. Once published, you will be able to book tickets for events at each distillery, but be sure to keep an eye out as they book up very quickly!

We hope to see you at one of our tasting events at the Islay Whisky Festival 2019!

Slainte and happy drams!

David

David Wood Islay

 

Islay Whisky Tour

Islay whisky tour

Join me, David Wood for an ultimate Islay Whisky Tour. I’ve worked in the whisky industry for many years and was Distillery Manager at the biggest distillery on Islay, the mighty Caol Ila Distillery!

Exclusive Islay Whisky Tours With a Distillery Manager

When you join us on Islay you, whether for a few days or for a week, you will enjoy luxurious accommodation throughout your stay in breathtaking scenery. We take care of all your food, all your transport whilst on Islay and all distillery tours, tastings and masterclasses.

During your stay with us, I’ll be your island guide, we’ll visit as many distilleries as you like and see as much of the beautiful Isle of Islay as possible.

Whats Included?

  • Luxury traditional farmhouse accommodation with stunning Islay mountain views and roaring fires
  • All food supplied to your requirements
  • All transport to and from distillery events and transfers to and from the ferry or plane
  • A full itinerary of distillery tours and tastings
  • Myself David Wood, former Caol Ila Distillery Manager as your host for the duration of your stay
  • The opportunity to fish for wild brown trout on the loch adjacent to the house
  • Deer stalking as an optional extra

Contact Us

We’d love to hear from you. If you would like to make an enquiry about our Islay Whisky Tours, please complete the form below and we will reply to you as soon as we can!

Islay Distillery Tours With a Distillery Manager

There is nowhere quite like Islay not least because of the fact that there are no less than 8 working distilleries on this relatively small island. The new Ardnahoe Distillery will be in operation in August 2019 and more distilleries are planned.

There is so much to see, from important historical sites such as Finlaggan to the beautiful, empty Atlantic beaches at Machir Bay and Saligo. The scenery is breathtaking and the wildlife abundant, you are more likely to see golden eagle and white tailed sea eagle here than anywhere else in the United Kingdom. Islay has become the eagle island.

If you are a lover of seafood, there is plenty to wet the appetite on Islay. The local fishing fleet brings in crab, lobster and all kinds of shellfish on a daily basis, and there are always oysters available for those who wish to try them as fresh as possible straight from the brine.

Why Join Us on a Guided Islay Whisky Distillery Trip?

If you want to pack as much in to your trip as possible, whatever your time constraints may be, to visit as many distilleries as possible and enjoy the very best of distillery tastings and experiences whilst seeing as much Islay as possible, we can host and plan your trip for you to ensure you get the most out of your trip to Islay.

Each of our Islay whisky tours is different. Many of our trips are bespoke to our clients requirements. Some of our guests like to relax in front of the fire after a busy day visiting distilleries, and we’ll enjoy dinner there. Other guests prefer to enjoy the hospitality of local pubs and restaurants, meeting the locals and enjoying traditional Islay music. Whichever you prefer, we can arrange it for you.

Islay Whisky Distillery Tours and Experiences

We carefully plan your itinerary to ensure that you get the very best use of your time whilst on Islay. We try to fit in as many of the special distillery tours, warehouse experiences and tastings as possible on each Islay whisky tour. Each of the 8 distilleries has a visitor centre and each offer tours and experiences from a simple guided tour of the distillery to an in-depth masterclass with someone who works at the distillery.

Distillery Tours

On a distillery tour you spend about an hour walking through a distillery with a very knowledgable tour guide. Your guide will show you how the whisky makes the very special journey from field to table. After the tour you will enjoy drams with your guide and then be able to ask any questions that you may have about the process and the whisky.

 

Distillery Warehouse Experiences

We love warehouses, they are the most wonderful, atmospheric places. Each cask sleeping on an Islay warehouse is a piece of history. Each cask end has its own story to tell. Spending time in a traditional dunnage warehouse is an absolute treat, and when you are back at home enjoying a Islay dram, it is to these warehouses that you will be magically transported such an impact they have on your senses. Dunnage warehouses are often earthen floored, the atmosphere is damp and full of sea air, and whisky vapours from the casks of course, otherwise known as the angels share. We like to take guests to Lagavulin where the legend of Lagavulin, Iain MacArthur is your host on the warehouse experience. We also like to take guest to Bunnahabhain and Bruichladdich where similar wonderful experiences can be enjoyed, at Bunnahabhain guests also have the opportunity to fill their own bottles straight from the cask.

Islay Whisky Tastings and Masterclasses

In between visits to distilleries, I will be on hand to answer any questions that you might have about distilling on Islay and the whisky industry in general. Guests enjoy masterclasses where we taste rare single cask whiskies and distillery only bottlings from each of the distilleries. I’m often accompanied by my infamous wooden sample box containing rare delights from the past, and one or two cask strength drams.

Islay Whisky Tour

Islay Whisky Tour

Your Transport Whilst on Islay

We arrange transport for our guests while they are on Islay. We work closely with a local coach company when designing each itinerary to ensure that your Islay whisky trip runs smoothly and that your time is used efficiently. All of the drivers are extremely friendly and knowledgable, some have even worked at Islay distilleries. I always accompany guests on the coach so that I can point out places of interest as we travel between distilleries and so that I can answer any questions that guests might have. We ask guests to make their own travel arrangements to Islay, whether by ferry or plane, and we then collect from the ferry terminal or Islay airport.

Islay whisky tours

Other Islay Activities

It isn’t all about the whisky (although most of it is!). There are many other activities that we can arrange for our guests. As well as sightseeing, guests can enjoy bird watching, sea safaris, fishing, shooting and stalking. All of these can be included in your itinerary should you wish. Each of our bespoke Islay whisky tours is different and we can quote to include as many activities as you like.

Book Your Bespoke Islay Whisky Trip

If you are interested in joining us for an Islay whisky trip of a lifetime on one of our Guided Islay Whisky Experiences please get in touch. We can answer all your questions about arranging your special trip to Islay. We can put together a suggested itinerary for you, just let us know the duration of the trip you require, how many guests will be in your party, any dates that you have in mind, and we will set to work!

Call David on 07875 405 980 or click here to send an email for more information or to book a bespoke Guided Islay Distilleries Experience.

We would love to host your very special trip on Islay, we hope to see you there soon.

Slainte

David

Islay whisky trip

 

Port Ellen Distillery To Reopen

Port Ellen Distillery

Another New Islay Distillery

My former colleagues on Islay and whisky enthusiasts around the globe are in for an exciting period in the next few years as the continuing boom in sales of single malt whisky and soaring interest in the whisky category has led to Diageo announcing that Port Ellen Distillery on Islay and Brora Distillery in Sutherland are both to reopen in 2020.

Port Ellen Distillery

Both Port Ellen and Brora were forced to close down in 1983 when whisky found itself out of favour and sales plummeted. Port Ellen has operated as a commercial maltings ever since malting 550 tonnes of barley every week to chiefly supply Caol Ila, Lagavulin but also smaller amounts for competitor distilleries on Islay.

Port Ellen Distillery

Port Ellen Single Malt Whisky

Port Ellen and Brora single malts have regularly featured in the Diageo annual special releases and command very high retail prices running in to thousands of pounds. Collectors and enthusiasts will be delighted that these iconic distilleries and brands are being brought back to life, albeit on a small scale. Diageo have hinted that the distilleries will produce on a small scale, probably around 800,000 ltrs of alcohol per year between the two new sites, with meticulous attention to detail in an effort to closely replicate the style of the old distillates. Brora and Port Ellen will be the smallest distilleries in the Diageo portfolio of 30 whisky producing sites.

The New Port Ellen Distillery

The new Port Ellen Distillery will be housed in a new building alongside the existing Port Ellen Maltings, presumably making use of some of the empty original distillery buildings in Kiln Square. Diageo will have given much thought to water sources, the old distillery used two lochs, one of which will now be supplying the maltings with steeping water, perhaps the other will supply the new distillery. In any case permission and consents will have been sought with SEPA, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, to abstract enough water for mashing, cooling and cleaning purposes. The old water holding reservoir is still visible behind the houses at Bay View in Port Ellen, this will no doubt be put to use again once the distillery is open.

Distillery Islay

The malted barley won’t have to travel far of course, it will either come directly from the maltings next door, or, like many other new craft distilleries, the owners may decide to install their own floor maltings, particularly as the site will have huge visitor numbers who would enjoy seeing the traditional method of malting. The peat will be exclusively from Islay as you would expect. In order to produce 400,000 ltrs of alcohol per year, the new distillery will require around 1000 tonnes of malted barley each year, this equates to around 20 tonnes per week if you take in to account likely down time in silent season. 20 tonnes of malted barley doesn’t sound a lot but when you consider that when Caol Ila is running at full pelt it requires 350 tonnes per week and Lagavulin uses around 122 tonnes per week, this doesn’t leave a lot of surplus for the competitor sites, just 78 tonnes in fact. 20 tonnes for the new distillery could potentially mean a reduction of 25% of surplus malt for the other distilling sites which is a huge difference so I would imagine that plans are in place for either extra malting capacity at the existing maltings or a traditional kiln and malting floor to be installed at the new distillery. We’ll have to wait and see!

Islay Distillery Tour

Given the small production figures, I would have thought it likely that the new distillery will only have one wash and one spirit still, the old distillery had a wash still with around 16000 ltr capacity and a spirit still with around 9500 ltrs capacity so it will be interesting to see if the new stills are of similar sizes. Diageo will without doubt be keen to ensure that the stills replicate in shape the original stills at Port Ellen so as to create a very similar spirit.

The warehouses from the old Port Ellen distillery still stand, and most must now be nearly empty as the old stocks are depleted and now that warehousing space is no longer being let out to competitor distillers such as Kilchoman. It will be great to see these old traditional dunnage warehouses filling up again with casks full of Port Ellen spirit. Sitting right on the sea shore, these warehouses will make the perfect place to once again mature Port Ellen single malt whisky.

Port Ellen will also have a new Brand Home, a visitor centre where enthusiasts from around the world will be able to enjoy tours and tastings. I have to say that I’m quite envious of my former colleagues who will see the iconic Port Ellen Distillery come back to life bringing the number of distilleries on Islay to 10.

There will be people who challenge what Diageo are doing, there will be sceptics who say the spirit doesn’t resemble the old Port Ellen style, indeed someone left me a comment to say that Port Ellen isn’t reopening, it wasn’t mothballed, it was completely closed, but in answer to this I would say, would we rather not have a new Port Ellen Distillery, are we not excited about the single malt whisky being made on this historic site? Yes the equipment will be new, the mill, the mash tun and the stills but if anyone can come close to replicating the old spirit profile it is Diageo. They have an exceptional wealth of talent at their disposal, both within Diageo Malt Distilling and within the team on Islay. They have employees and contractors who remember the old distillery, who visited it frequently, who had brothers, fathers and grand fathers who worked in the old distillery. Above all they have an abundance of distilling experience and this will ensure that the spirit is as close to the old Port Ellen spirit style as possible. At the very least the opening of the new distillery will mean a dozen new jobs in all probability which will be great for the economy of the island.

This is great news for the whisky industry, brilliant news for Islay but also fantastic news for our guests on our Guided Islay Distillery Experiences which we arrange regularly as they’ll get to visit Port Ellen Distillery!

Gin Tasting Leek

Visit Islay and Port Ellen With Distilled Events!

Click here for more information about our Guided Islay Distillery Experiences. We are taking bookings for a week long guided tour of Islay and her distilleries commencing on Saturday 24th March 2018.

We will also have accommodation available in a large luxury house for upto 10 guests during Feis Ile – Islay Whisky Festival 2018. Please contact us here if you would like more information.

Slainte and happy drams!

David

Port Ellen Distillery

All pictures courtesy of Joe Scrivens of One Little Daisy Photography

The Islay Whisky Festival

Bunnahabhain Warehouse Experience

The Islay Whisky Festival

The Islay Whisky Festival comes around once a year and falls on the last week in May. During this fantastic celebration of all things Islay whisky, thousands of excited enthusiasts make their way to the magic Isle of Islay for a week of whisky events, tours, tastings and masterclasses. It is difficult to measure how many extra visitors, and how much extra income, the island gets due to the festival but it is commonly thought the island population rises from 2000 to over 10000 during the Festival week, in no means insignificant for the economy of the island.

Islay Whisky Tours

Each of the 8 malt whisky distilleries and Jura distillery too, have their own dedicated festival day. There is some overlap, Bowmore day is also Bridgend Square day and Islay Ales and the other businesses there also arrange events and enjoy a busy day of music, drams and general merriment. We love the Islay Whisky Festival and as well as hosting whisky and gin tastings and events in Leek, Staffordshire and throughout the UK, we will always host Islay whisky tastings at the Islay festival in the years to come.

Islay Whisky Festival Distillery Days

Each distillery publishes their festival events and releases tickets a few weeks before the Feis week. Most put on extra tours, special tastings and masterclasses and also other activities such as fast RIB boat rides and special guided water source walks. As the festival has become more and more popular, tickets tend to sell out faster, especially at the Kildalton distilleries of Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Laphroaig, it is not unusual for all tickets to sell out on the first day of release. So if you are looking to attend an event, you’ll need to be quick!

Islay Whisky Tours

Islay Whisky Festival Bottlings

To celebrate the festival, each distillery has a special, limited release whisky bottling. In recent years, because the festival has become so well attended, these releases are not as small batch as they used to be. Only 5 or 6 years ago, distilleries were able to release single cask bottlings which enthusiasts would snap up and quite often sell at a profit on auction sites. Now distillers have decided to increase the size of the releases in an attempt to ensure that there are enough to satisfy the demand of visitors. There are still a few gems to be discovered though. During Feis Ile 2017 Bunnahabhain released a run of only 1596 bottles.

The peated spirit was distilled in 2004 and matured in American oak and then transferred to port pipes for a short finishing period. The resulting whisky, ‘Bunnahabhain Moine Port Pipe Finish’, as well as being a beautiful dram, was also a real small batch rarity for festival visitors to buy, and very good value at £95.

Islay Whisky Festival

As well as official distillery bottlings, it is now not uncommon to find festival releases from independent bottlers who arrange events during the festival. Quite often visitors arrive on the island during the festival only to find that all the distillery events are full. The independent bottlers, who only promote Islay whisky during the festival, are often able to accommodate these visitors on their tastings and masterclasses and therefore offer a valuable addition to the Festival.

I became Distillery Manager of Caol Ila Distillery in 2013 but before that, in 2008, I began releasing my own Islay Festival bottlings for the Queen of the Moorlands Single Malt Whisky brand which I owned at the time. The first was this delicious 1982 26 year old Caol Ila single cask whisky, which was to be the first ever independent Islay festival bottling.

Whisky Masterclasses at The Islay Whisky Festival 2017 – Distilled Events

In late Autumn 2015, I decided to leave Caol Ila and to start my own customer facing whisky events company, Distilled Events. This year this gave me the opportunity to arrange my own events at the whisky festival, and with the help of friends on Islay, we held two very well attended masterclasses at the Gaelic College in Bowmore.

Islay Whisky Masterclass

I was incredibly surprised and pleased at the support that my friends in the whisky industry were willing to give me. Guests were treated to ‘As We Get It Islay’ from Ian Macleod Distillers, an incredible pair of drams from Wm Cadenheads in the form of a 26 year old single cask Caol Ila and a 16 year old single cask Bowmore. Port Askaig Malts supplied us with a great young peaty dram, Port Askaig 8 year old, and just like ‘As We Get It’ the cat was really amongst the pigeons with guests arguing about the provenance of these tasty whiskies. From Chorlton Whisky we had an awesome 23 year old single cask Bunnahabhain which, just like all the other drams on show, went down a treat with our guests.

Islay Whisky Festival 2018

We are already making plans for our events at the Islay Whisky Festival 2018, the months will slip away and before we know it we will be enjoying festivities once again on Islay. Keep an eye on our tastings and events page and also on our Distilled Events Facebook page and you will then be able to buy tickets online once they are released.

We also arrange bespoke Guided Islay Distillery Experiences throughout the year, taking groups of enthusiasts to Islay on 5 or 7 day whisky trips packed with tours, tastings and masterclasses and enjoying all that Islay has to offer. If you are interested in joining us on a trip or if you would like more info about our bespoke Guided Islay Distillery Experiences, please click here.

Here are some pics from our events at the Islay Whisky Festival 2017. Enjoy.

Slainte

David

Islay Whisky Festival

Islay Whisky Tours

Islay Whisky Tour

Islay Whisky Tours

Islay whisky tour

Bunnahabhain

David Wood Islay