Feis Ile 2011

By Rob Allanson
The 2011 Feis Ile proved to be another huge success, with the distilleries yet again upping their game, all in the name of fun, frivolity and peated whisky. The sideways rain, which hit early on the first Saturday, (traditionally Lagavulin’s open day) did little to dampen the spirits of the few hundred fanatics and collectors who were queuing outside the distillery shop doors well before 10am, when their festival bottle went on sale. This year cask 1715, a 13yo Refill sherry Butt, was selected by Lagavulin legend Iain McArthur, limited to 588 bottles. Bruichladdich’s continued for-tune with good festival weather seemed unabated, with the distillery’s Sunday open day surprisingly bathed in sun, revellers enjoying two different Feis Ile releases; one from 1998 (when the distillery was still owned by Whyte & Mackay) and a 2001 vintage.

The gales returned for Caol Ila’s open day but the spirit of the Feis remained untainted, with Bunnahabhain holding a successful masterclass from Ian Buxton. Like last year, Laphroaig released another popular Cairdeas bottling and Bowmore released two Feis Ile expressions.

However it was Ardbeg who stole the show, with their Spanish-themed open day, complete with castanets, flamenco demonstrations, bull rides and masterclasses to highlight the integration between sherry casks and peat.