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Distilleries reveal Fèis Ìle bottlings

Lagavulin, Caol Ila and Bruichladdich are among Islay distilleries creating limited edition expressions for this year’s Fèis Ìle festival.

Lagavulin Skies of Fèis Ìle
At £2,500 (US$3,135), Lagavulin Skies of Fèis Ìle is the most expensive of the Fèis Ìle releases

Fèis Ìle takes place between 24 May and 1 June, with Islay’s nine distilleries opening their doors to the public and hosting unique events.

Lagavulin Fèis Ìle 2024
Lagavulin Fèis Ìle 2024

Lagavulin

Diageo-owned Lagavulin has created two bottlings for the festival: the Lagavulin Skies of Fèis Ìle 29-Year Old and the Lagavulin Fèis Ìle 2024 10-Year-Old.

The former is finished in a heavily charred amoroso-seasoned American oak hogshead cask, while the latter has a higher peat level than the distillery’s usual offering and has been matured in refill, heavily charred and first fill ex-Bourbon American oak hogshead casks.

Lagavulin Skies of Fèis Ìle has an RRP of £2,500 (US$3,135), with only 250 bottles available directly from the distillery.

Lagavulin Fèis Ìle 2024 retails for £175 (US$22), with 1,800 available.

Jordan Paisley, Lagavulin distillery manager, said: “This year, we’re releasing two very different expressions, but with a very similar inspiration: the way special moments, like Fèis Ìle or the Northern Lights on Islay, are capable of bringing people together.

“Just like Lagavulin has been uniting fans all over the world through its unique whisky, it is a very special moment for us.”

Caol Ila

Meanwhile, Caol Ila will offer a 13-year-old whisky that is finished in ex-ruby Port French oak casks, sourced from the Douro Valley in Portugal.

Bottled at 54.5% ABV, 1,404 bottles of Caol Ila Fèis Ìle 2024 13-Year-Old are available for £185 (US$232).

Eva Cumming, Caol Ila distillery manager, said: “I wanted to celebrate this year’s Fèis Ìle with a truly exceptional bottling, especially since this marks my inaugural Fèis Ìle as Caol Ila’s distillery manager.

“This expression beautifully captures Caol Ila’s signature maritime smokiness, complemented by a twist with those sweeter tones. I’m looking forward to raising a glass with all of our fans!”

Bruichladdich Rock’ndaal 03.1
Bruichladdich Rock’ndaal 03.1

Bruichladdich

Bruichladdich has created two expressions for the festival: a 10-year-old and a 20-year-old.

The younger whisky, Rock’ndaal 03.1, is aged in Bourbon casks before being recasked into Sauternes casks, Austrian dessert wine casks and ex-brandy casks from Fernando de Castilla, Spain, which previously held Pedro Ximénez Sherry.

Bottled at 50% ABV, the whisky is priced at £100 (US$125).

At 20 years old, Port Charlotte Rock’ndaal 03.2 is the oldest expression of Port Charlotte to be released. It was aged in a combination of Bourbon casks and first-fill Sauternes casks.

Bottled at 54% ABV, the whisky is priced at £225 (US$282).

“Fèis Ìle is a time to rip up the rule book,” says Bruichladdich Distillery’s head distiller, Adam Hannett. “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.”

Mac-Talla

Mac-Talla Fèis Ìle
Mac-Talla Fèis Ìle 2024

For its festival release, Mac-Talla, which is owned by Morrison Scotch Whisky Distillers, has aged its single malt in rum casks for the first time. The original whisky was distilled in 2009 and aged in Bourbon barrels for 10 years before being finished in Caribbean rum casks.

Graeme Mackeddie, production director, said: “Unlike many casks in use in the rum industry and then in subsequent use within the whisky industry, this particular parcel of rum casks started life in the rum industry as virgin American oak barrels, and saw only one use before setting sail to us.

“The result is a rum cask that is both active in terms of the influence of its previous contents, but also the influence of its wood. The active American oak generates flavours and aromas of vanilla, coconut and brown sugar, along with some subtle cinnamon and cloves. The cask’s former contents of rum combined with the fruit-forward Islay whisky offer a generous cacophony of tropical fruit notes, pineapple and papaya particularly prevalent.”

Bottled at 53.7%, the expression retails for £98 (US$123).

Ardbeg also released a festival offering earlier this month: a Bourbon cask-matured whisky aged in Port wine barrels.

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