(Almost) All the 2017 Islay Festival Whiskey Special Releases

Every May, scotch lovers descend on Islay for Fèis Ìle, otherwise known as the Islay Festival of Music and Malt. This year, the festival takes place from May 26th through June 3rd. Each day of the festival, a different distillery hosts an Open Day with activities for visitors and a limited-edition whisky. Many of these whiskies are available only during the festival and sell out quickly; however, some are released more widely once the festival has concluded.

See below for details on distillery open days (including Jura Distillery on Jura, and the Islay Ales brewery), and a list of the different whiskies each distillery is releasing. There are also special releases from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and Douglas Laing & Co., as well as a special event featuring six different Islay single casks dating from 1982 to 1991, hosted by Jim McEwan and Hunter Laing, which is currently building Islay’s newest distillery, Ardnahoe. (Note that some distilleries will not share information about their festival bottlings ahead of time. We’ll update this list as information becomes available.)

Scotch Malt Whisky Society: May 26th

Lagavulin: May 27th

Bruichladdich: May 28th

Caol Ila: May 29th

Laphroaig: May 30th

Bowmore: May 31st 

Islay Ales: May 31st

Jura Distillery: June 1st

Kilchoman : June 1st

Bunnahabhain: June 2nd

Ardbeg: June 3rd

Douglas Laing & Co.

Ardnahoe/Hunter Laing

10.113 The Crowd Pleaser

Release Date: May 26th
Age: 10 years old
Proof: 59% ABV
Price: £65 (Member), £84.50 (Public)/$130
Bottles available: 186

Need to know:

This whisky came from a second-fill ex-bourbon barrel. Tasting notes describe “old first aid kits,” “sweet hot smoked salmon,” and “TCP, bandages and raspberry jam.”

3.299 Sweet Smoke on the Water

Release Date: May 26th
Age: 20 years old
Proof: 54.2% ABV
Price: £120 (Member), £156 (Public)/$205
Bottles available: 252

Need to know:

The whisky was first matured in an ex-bourbon hogshead before being recasked in a second-fill French oak hogshead. The description notes flavors of lobster bisque, scallops, and king prawns, as well as “smoked duck and ribs with sticky glaze to go with a fennel and cream sauce and pea and ham soup.”

29.211 Jazzy Jousting Hastlitude

Release Date: May 26th
Age: 21 years old
Proof: 51.6% ABV
Price: £165 (Member), £214.50 (Public)/$265
Bottles available: 228

Need to know:

From a first-fill American oak Pedro Ximénez hogshead, the whisky has aromas like prunes, mezcal, raisins, and Armagnac and flavors of blackcurrant, treacle toffee, chestnuts, and “herbal smoke.”

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2017 Quarter Cask Cask Strength

Release Date: May 27th at the distillery, online from June 7th, at U.S. retail in August
Age: NAS
Proof: 56.3% ABV
Price: £77

Need to know:

The latest Laphroaig Cairdeas release is a cask strength take on Laphroaig’s popular Quarter Cask expression. The whisky was aged for over 5 years in first-fill Maker’s Mark casks, then transferred to quarter casks for another six months. Like other Cairdeas releases, this will eventually be available in limited quantities in U.S. stores, starting late this summer.


Bowmore Fèis Ìle 2017

Fèis Ìle 2017: 1,000 bottles on May 27th, 1,000 bottles on May 31st, £60
Vintage Fèis Ìle Edition 2017: 200 bottles on May 31st, £350
Bottle Your Own 2017: From May 27th, £130

Need to know:

Bowmore has three Fèis Ìle releases at three different price points. The most widely available, the Fèis Ìle 2017 release, was aged in Oloroso Sherry and Bordeaux wine casks. The Vintage Fèis Ìle Edition is a 27 year old whisky that was aged in Port casks. The Bottle Your Own release this year is a 19 year old whisky aged in a first-fill Oloroso sherry puncheon. As the name suggests, you can hand-fill it yourself at the distillery.

Jura 2017 Tastival Bottling

Release Date: June 1st
Age: NAS
Proof: 51% ABV
Price: £85

Need to know:

The 2017 Tastival bottling was aged in first-fill ex-bourbon barrels and Graham’s port pipes. The distillery’s tasting notes highlight flavors like licorice, plums, orange zest, walnut cake, and glazed pineapple. After the festival, the whisky will be released globally, other than the United States.

Bunnahabhain Moine Port Pipe Finish

Release Date: June 2nd
Age: About 13 years old
Proof: 55.6% ABV
Price: £95
Bottles available: 1,596

Need to know:

Distilled in 2004, this whisky spent roughly 10 years in refill ex-whisky hogsheads. It then underwent a 3 year finishing period in port pipes.

Bunnahabhain American Oak

Release Date: June 2nd
Age: About 13 years old
Proof: 52.2% ABV
Price: £250
Bottles available: 528

Need to know:

Distilled in 1997, this whisky first matured in refill ex-bourbon casks for 19 years, followed by a 10 month finish in virgin American oak casks. Both Bunnahabhain releases are bottled at cask strength and natural color, with no chill filtering.

Kilchoman Fèis Ìle 2017 Release 100% Islay

Release Date: June 2nd
Age: Roughly 7 and a half years
Proof: 58% ABV
Price: £90
Bottles available: 877

Need to know:

Kilchoman founder Anthony Wills selected the two casks of the distillery’s 100% Islay single malt that went into this vatting: Bourbon Barrel 324/2008, filled in July 2008, and Oloroso Sherry Butt 443/2009, filled October 2009. Tasting notes include cooked fruit, vanilla, citrus, and soft peat.

Ardbeg Kelpie

Release Date: June 3rd
Age: NAS
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: £98

Need to know:

Kelpie is a marriage of Ardbeg matured in ex-bourbon casks, as well as Ardbeg matured in virgin casks made of oak from the Adyghe Republic’s Taman Peninsula, which is surrounded on three sides by the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. The Ardbeg Committee version of Kelpie was released earlier this year at 51.7% ABV. The version released on Ardbeg Day at the distillery will be 46% ABV.

Big Peat's Pals 2017 Fèis Ìle Limited Edition

Release Date: early May
Age: NAS
Proof: 48% ABV
Price: £50
Bottles available: 1,600

Need to know:

This special edition of Douglas Laing & Co.’s Big Peat blend features the usual vatting of Ardbeg, Bowmore, Caol Ila, and Port Ellen whiskies. What makes it special, however, is the blend’s finish in sherry casks—a first for Big Peat. In addition, the packaging features photographs of over 300 Big Peat fans, gathered in a social media competition earlier this year. The bottle will be available at select retailers around the world, and will launch at the D&G Christie shop in Bowmore.

Provenance Caol Ila 6 year old

Release Date: early May
Age: 6 years
Proof: 50.6% ABV
Price: £60

Need to know:

Bottled as part of Douglas Laing & Co.’s Provenance brand, this 6 year old Caol Ila spent its life in a refill hogshead. The company’s description notes flavors of smoked bacon, toffee, and plenty of peat.

The Kinship Series

Bunnahabhain 28 year old: 56.2% ABV, 507 bottles
Caol Ila 33 year old: 52.6% ABV, £375, 482 bottles
Laphroaig 30 year old: 53.6% ABV, £720, 165 bottles
Ardbeg 26 year old: 49.7% ABV, £720, 209 bottles
Port Ellen 34 year old: 61.6% ABV, £1,800, 545 bottles

Need to know:

As construction on Ardnahoe is underway, Hunter Laing has opened a retail shop at Bridgend on Islay, offering its full range of independently bottled whiskies, as well as a new line called The Kinship, which is debuting at the festival. The Bunnahabhain, Bowmore, Caol Ila, and Port Ellen bottlings were matured in ex-sherry casks, while the Laphroaig and the Ardbeg come from ex-bourbon hogsheads.

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