Bunnahabhain helps whisky lovers celebrate Fèis Ìle in spirit – Scotch Whisky News

Bunnahabhain helps whisky lovers celebrate Fèis Ìle in spirit

Virtual ‘Feis at Home’ celebrations keep the festival spirit thriving for 2020

Tasting kits allow whisky fans to join in from the comfort of their own home

Exclusive distillery news and competitions revealed to those who tune in

It’s one of the most anticipated calendar dates for the whisky fans who descend on Islay’s shores years after year, but the cancellation of this Spring’s world-famous Feis Ile festival won’t stop Bunnahabhain from throwing its (virtual) doors open to all.

While physical celebrations are on hold due to social distancing guidelines, Bunnahabhain is inviting whisky fans from across the globe to ‘Feis at Home’ and transporting them to the shores of Islay via a special live tasting of not one, but two exceptional new festival editions.

Hosted by renowned whisky expert Dave Broom*, Bunnahabhain Distillery Manager Andrew Brown will be joined by Master Blender Julianne Fernandez, Master Distiller Stephen Woodcock and Visitor Centre Manager Dr Billy Sinclair for the live stream on Friday 29th of May from 8pm (BST). The group will lead whisky fans through a tasting and take part in a panel discussion about the two limited-edition expressions being released to mark the occasion.

Tasting kits available to purchase from the Bunnahabhain website will allow people to follow along from the comfort of their home. And it wouldn’t be Feis Ile without a few surprises…with exclusive details on a new product to be revealed live during the tasting.

Ahead of the tasting, Visitor Centre Manager, Dr Billy Sinclair will take friends of Bunnahabhain on a Facebook Live tour around the distillery and island – a chance to get the full Feis Ile experience from afar. Eagle eyed viewers will also have the chance to win a trip to the world-famous festival in person in 2021, with competition details announced on the first ‘tour’ to go live on Bunnahabhain’s Facebook page at 10am (BST) on Friday the 29th of May.

Bunnahabhain Distillery Manager, Andrew Brown, said: 

Our world famous ‘Music and Malt’ festival here on Islay is a pilgrimage for many a Bunnahabhain fan and we love greeting them here at the distillery. We’ll miss seeing some familiar faces in person, but Feis Ile is always warm and welcoming, so we’re embracing the fact that live streaming technology will allow even more people to join in this year.” 

We’ve got a great panel of experts on board to talk through our wonderful new festival editions, and anyone who’s visited Feis Ile before will know that’s not all we’ve got up our sleeve. You’ll have to tune in to find out more, but we can guarantee a memorable festival, even if it’s not running exactly as we had planned.” 

On sale information on Bunnahabhain’s new festival editions will be announced later this week. 

Bunnahabhain’s virtual ‘Feis at Home’ events will take place on Friday the 29th of May 

A virtual tasting and panel discussion of two new festival editions will take place at at 8pm (BST) 

Live streams from the distillery on Islay will take place at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm and 6.30pm (BST) 

Join in on Facebook: www.facebook.com/Bunnahabhain 

Tasting kits can be purchased from, priced at £16.50: www.bunnahabhain.com/ 

Please ensure orders are placed by 25th of May (UK) or 18th of May (rest of world) to avoid disappointment

For more information please contact Fiona Hayes, WIRE: fiona@wearewire.co / 07837000900

NOTES:

About Bunnahabhain:

Established in 1881 and situated on Islay’s most northerly point, Bunnahabhain is the island’s most remote distillery, overlooking a notorious passage of ocean known by seafarers as the sound of Islay.

It has long established links to the sea, previously only accessible by boat – with ships loaded up daily before transporting their important whisky cargo back to the mainland for sale.

The word ‘Bunnahabhain’ is actually Gaelic for ‘mouth of the river’ referring to the Margadale River, its source of pure spring water which is distilled in the island’s tallest stills to create the renowned malts. It’s the use of pure spring water that is piped to the distillery which gives it its unique light colouring which sets it apart from other darker liquids on the Islay landscape.

The distillery goes against the grain – quite literally – with a portfolio made up of broadly non-peated expressions, however, its peated Toiteach A Dhà expression recently won in the Scotch Islay: No Age Statement category at this year’s World Whiskies Awards. Bunnahabhain took home a further four titles in the 2020 awards ranging from silver to gold certificates – showcasing the calibre of its range. 

*About Dave Broom:

Dave Broom was born in Glasgow and has spent the past 30 years writing about alcohol. He spent 7 years as features editor on a UK drinks trade weekly then, after working a stage in an Australian winery, returned to the UK to specialise as a freelance writer on spirits.

He has written 12 books, two of which [Rum and Drink!] won the Glenfiddich Award. ‘Whisky: The Manual’ was awarded Best Spirits Book at the Spirited Awards in 2015 and the ‘World Atlas of Whisky’ has been called “a landmark publication”.

His most recent book, “The Way of Whisky: A Journey into Japanese Whisky’ appeared in 2017 and was awarded the John Avery prize at the Andre Simon Awards in 2018.

As well as regular radio and TV work, in 2018/9, he wrote and presented the whisky culture documentary ‘The Amber Light’ (directed by Adam Park).

He has been contributing editor at both Whisky Magazine and scotchwhisky.com and continues to write for a large number of international titles. He launched his new website thewhiskymamual.uk in 2020

The other part of his life is involved with training and speaking. He regularly gives talks at international whisky events. He designs in-house training courses for distillers, and was one of the team which developed (and continues to maintain) the Single Malt Flavour Map.

He has been a tutor on Diageo’s influential Malts Advocates Course for 20 years. He also advises on spirit quality and new product development for a number of distillers around the world.

In 2013, he was awarded the Communicator of the Year at the ISWC awards and in 2015 was voted Best Spirits Writer at the Spirited Awards. He is a Master of the Quaich.

About Andrew Brown, Bunnahabhain Distillery Manager

Andrew Brown’s Bunnahabhain journey began in May of 1988, when the distillery found itself short staffed for unloading malt boats coming into its famous pier. After helping out on a few occasions, he was given a full time role as a warehouseman, and joined the small, hardworking team, of Bunnahabhain Distillery.

He quickly moved on to work in the warehouse and mash house, as the relief mashman, learning the ropes from the team around him on running the still house & boilers. In 1997 he took on the role of Assistant Team Leader, progressing to become the Bunnahabhain Distillery Manager in 2010

It’s a position he has proudly held for over 10 years and has seen the production at Bunnahabhain increase substantially in that time.

Finding it impossible to choose one whisky as a favourite, he opts for three, all Bunnahabhain (of course) – 40 year old, Auld Acquaintance then after this the 18 year old.

About Julieann Fernandez, Blender

Julieann Fernandez’ whisky journey started while she was at university with a placement at Chivas Brothers. Working in the Kilmalid lab doing analytical chemistry and new product development created a true passion for whisky and following her graduation with a BSc (Hons) in Forensic Science, Julieann joined the Scotch Whisky Research Institute as an Analytical Research Scientist.

From there, Julieann returned to Chivas Brothers, moving around the business and learning all aspects of distilling; from grain and malt to developing her organoleptic skills.

She joined Distell in 2017 as Blender and works alongside Senior Blender, Kirstie McCallum, on the single malt, blend and limited-edition portfolios. Julieann is currently studying towards her Diploma in Distilling.

About Billy Sinclair, Bunnahabhain Visitor Centre Manager

Biologist, geneticist, conservationist, diving instructor and commercial coxswain – Billy Sinclair has packed a lot into life. He holds an honours degree in Biology and Biochemistry, and a PhD in Biochemistry and Genetics. He also has more than 50 scientific papers to his name. If you want to know about antibiotic resistant bacteria in remote Australian communities, the evolutionary history of Scotland’s pine forests, paternity testing in rare pigs, or survival strategies in ancient, deep-sea cousins of the octopus, Billy’s your man. In his 25-year career, he’s travelled the globe, working in Scotland, Ireland, England and Australia. He’s also led student field trips in Egypt, Australia and The Gambia. And in 2015 he embarked on a new adventure, when he moved with his family to Islay and added a new passion — serious Scotch whisky — to his long, long list.

His favourite dram (if he’s forced to choose) is the Bunnahabhain 18-year-old.

About Stephen Woodcock, Master Distiller

Stephen Woodcock started his career in chemistry, managing chemical plants to create coloured pigments for the paints, inks and plastic industries.

With parents working in the drinks industry, his father owned a pub and mother worked for Allied Distillers – so maybe it’s not surprising that he ended up there too. He joined Diageo in 2009 as the business leader responsible for pre-distillation. It’s a chemical process after all, just like any other. But a last-minute change of plan saw him take on the management of Dundashill Cooperage in Glasgow instead, where he simultaneously took on a General Certificate in Distillation. It wasn’t until the Dundashill site (sadly) closed in 2010 that he had the chance to put that knowledge into practice.

He moved to Speyside to take charge of the multi-million-pound upgrade and commissioning of Inchgower Distillery in Buckie. Following that Stephen worked in seven different Speyside distilleries, learning more about predistillation and distillation processes with each move. In a bid to understand this further from a more academic perspective he completed the IBD Diploma in Distilling in 2017, and in June 2016 he joined Distell as Distilleries Manager and Master Blender. His role is to protect age old traditions, while working to refine and improve the processes of the distilleries he takes charge of, so they can keep creating the finest whiskies in the world.

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