Islay distilleries “rip up the rule book” with Fèis Ìle bottlings

Islay distilleries “rip up the rule book” with Fèis Ìle bottlings

With Fèis Ìle 2024 just around the corner, we take a look at some of the limited-edition festival releases from Islay's distilleries

News | 15 May 2024

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Fèis Ìle, the annual whisky festival celebrating the whiskies of Islay, is just around the corner. The Festival of Music and Malt will run from 24 May-1 June, and per tradition, distilleries have announced limited-edition expressions worthy of the fun of the festival.

 

For participating distilleries, Fèis Ìle is “a time to rip up the rule book” — so says Adam Hannett, head distiller at Bruichladdich. “Each year we delve deeper into our warehouses to create something that’s never been done before, something really special — and our festival releases do just that,” Hannett shared.

 

We’ve rounded up some of the limited-edition festival releases arriving this year, from the Spectacular (see: Ardbeg) to the tropical (Mac-Talla is whisking us to the Caribbean).

Ardbeg Spectacular

Ardbeg Spectacular (46% ABV, RRP £110)

Spectacularly, this is the first release from Ardbeg to use whisky wholly aged in ports casks, which has been combined with the distillery’s classic bourbon-matured spirits. Master blender Gillian Macdonald says the result has “peculiar notes of mint chocolate, incense, lavender and smoked nuts, set off by a daring double act of salted caramel and tar.”

Available now from retailers worldwide and via Ardbeg.

Bruichladdich Rock'ndaal 03.1

Bruichladdich Rock’ndaal 03.1 (50% ABV, RRP £100)

A true exploration of different casks, this single malt was first matured in bourbon casks before being separated into Sauternes, Austrian dessert wine, and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks. Notes provided by Bruichladdich highlight crème brûlée, dried fruit, a salty tang, and sweet florals.

Available to pre-order online via the Bruichladdich Rock’ndaal website.

Bunnahabhain's three releases for Fèis Ìle 2024

Bunnahabhain 14 Years Old Ruby Port Cask Finish (58.7% ABV, RRP £120)

Described as “truly Bunnahabhain but with a twist”, this bourbon-cask-matured whisky was transferred to ruby port hogshead casks for a finishing period. The producer’s tasting notes include cherries and dark chocolate, with red berries leading to a spicy finish.

Available now via Bunnahabhain and selected retailers.

 

Bunnahabhain 19 Years Old Mòine Madeira Finish (51.2% ABV, RRP £199)

This 19-year-old whisky was distilled in 2004 and finished in Madeira hogshead casks, in the distillery’s Warehouse 8, which gives a “coastal influence”. The distillery says the “peppery smoke” of the whisky balances with the sweet stewed fruit flavours from the Madeira wine casks.

Available now via Bunnahabhain and selected retailers.

 

Bunnahabhain 23 Years Old Triple Sherry Wood Finish (53.3% ABV, RRP £400)

The Triple Sherry Wood cask strength release brings together whiskies finished in amontillado, manzanilla, and oloroso sherry casks, blended by master blender Julieann Fernandez. Bunnahabhain describes the 23-year-old as having notes of fudge, vanilla, and tobacco, with “an exceptional burst of sherry”.

Available now via Bunnahabhain and selected retailers.

Caol Ile Fèis Ìle 2024 13 Years Old

Caol Ila Fèis Ìle 2024 13 Years Old (54.5% ABV, RRP £185)

Caol Ila’s 2024 offering is a 13-year-old whisky finished in ex-ruby port French oak casks, to bring together the fruity sweetness of port with the distillery’s classic “bonfire peat” flavours and maritime notes.

Will be available for purchase at Fèis Ìle from 27 May.

Elements of Islay Fireside

Elements of Islay Fireside (54.5% ABV, RRP £84.95)

This blend brings together distilleries and cask style through its use of Caol Ila and Bunnahabhain whiskies, which have been matured in Pedro Ximenex, American oak oloroso sherry, and re-charred Spanish wine casks. The blended result marries the “smoky and sweet” woods with red and candied fruit flavours giving a “sense of fun”, according to head blender Oliver Chilton.

Available at the Islay Whisky Shop during Fèis Ìle, with global release from early June.

Lagavulin Skies of Fèis Ìle 29 Years Old

Lagavulin Skies of Fèis Ìle 29 Years Old (RRP £2,500)

Skies of Fèis Ìle was inspired by the aurora borealis, which can on occasion be seen from Islay. The 29-year-old Lagavulin has been finished in a heavily charred amoroso-seasoned American oak hogshead cask. Each bottle of this extremely limited-edition whisky will be hand-filled and signed by distillery manager Jordan Paisley.

Will be available for purchase at Fèis Ìle from 25 May.

 

Lagavulin Fèis Ìle 2024 10 Years Old (56.7% ABV, RRP £175)

This extremely heavily peated whisky might jog memories for festival-goers: it was previewed at Fèis Ìle 2023, and now returns bottled and ready. The Lagavulin Fèis Ìle 2024 uses higher peating levels than its usual, and has been matured in refill, heavily charred, and first fill ex-bourbon American oak hogshead casks for a “powerful” result.

Will be available for purchase at Fèis Ìle from 25 May.

Mac-Talla Rum Cask — Friends of the Fèis 2024

Mac-Talla Rum Cask — Friends of the Fèis 2024 (53.7% ABV, RRP £98)

Mac-Talla’s Fèis Ìle offering was distilled in 2009, and after a maturation period in refill bourbon barrels was finished in Caribbean rum casks. The American oak casks had only been used once for rum before coming to Mac-Talla, meaning the classic oak influences could shine alongside the tropical fruitiness of the rum in the final bottle.

Available from 16 May via select retailers - see the Mac-Talla website.

Port Charlotte Rock'ndaal 03.2

Port Charlotte Rock’ndaal 03.2 (54% ABV, RRP £225)

Bruichladdich’s Port Charlotte Fèis Ìle release is a bold one — this 20-year-old heavily peated single malt is the oldest Port Charlotte release to date, a title previously held by the 18-year-old released earlier this year. The whisky has spent the duration of its maturation on Islay in bourbon and first-fill Sauternes casks.

Available to pre-order online via the Bruichladdich Rock’ndaal website.

 

For more information about Fèis Ìle, visit feisile.co.uk.

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