Yesterday was a time for celebrations. The Happy Farmer took me over the ‘bridge’ and we ventured into the land of the south Islay distilleries for a wonderful ‘peaty slap in the face’ at Laphraoig as we called in for a festival bottle. This was followed by a lovely lunch from Jackie and the team at Ardbeg. Each of Islay’s distilleries have their own unique character. They also boast spectacular locations, with the older distilleries right on the shoreline close to their own piers so that whisky could be transported from the distilleries to the mainland via the old puffer boats, across the sea. There are so many fabulous stories of the old puffer boats and the antics that happened aboard. Neil Munro captured these in his ‘Para Handy tales’ which were later made into a TV series and film.
At Persabus then, with two of the clan home and a couple of birthdays to celebrate, once breakfasts had been served all round and cottage changeovers completed, we took some time out.
The Happy Farmer had spent the previous week looking enviously at all of the guests visiting the Islay distilleries to celebrate the various festival days. The week was a mix of sunshine, high winds and torrential downpours. With Persabus being handily situated as the gateway to the north Islay distilleries the Happy Farmer had his ‘sheep shedder’ poised at the ready in case he needed to divert any traffic. It seems a sheep shedder can have many uses and the Happy Farmer is already considering how it might be adapted from its usual purpose of shedding the sheep into lots and if it was a larger version it may be useful for diverting traffic and tourists. As it was he did manage to get involved in directing traffic, lending the front field at Persabus to Ardnahoe Distillery for their open day. To ease congestion on the single track road, shuttle buses operated from Persabus to the distillery. We even managed to sneak along to Ardnahoe at one point and squeeze in a quick visit in the midst of our own busy day. A dozen Islay oysters later, a few good tunes from the band that were playing, and a good craic with the locals and we were soon in the festival spirit.
The Happy Farmer spent Friday at Bunnahabhain Distillery for their festival day. With youngest working there as a tour guide for the season he felt his support was necessary. I am sure she thought otherwise but even the torrents of rain on Friday did not deter the Happy Farmer from joining in the party. There was a fantastic buzz in the air, and apart from having to hijack one of the minibuses on the road who had our guests on board and was trying to kidnap them and deposit them in some far flung field, the days events ran well. The party from Bunnahabhain festival day spilled into the farmhouse kitchen and then onto the Lochside Hotel for a good ceilidh.
The Islay whisky festival is over for another year, but the Islay craic and party continues throughout the year as we welcome visitors from all corners of the globe to share in the unique history, character and amazing produce of this beautiful island.
We look forward to offering you a warm Islay welcome soon. Slainte.
Until next time…