Cantilena Music Festival Tunes In With Islay

With a concert every night, Cantilena Music Festival orchestra played to a full house all week long. Bach, Vivaldi, Schubert, Mendelssohn resounded in the distilleries as well as in Ionad Challum Chille Ile, the gaelic centre. The now traditional Music and Whisky tasting in Islay Hotel featured the Four seasons.

Montage of cantilena venues

The Music and Whisky tasting linked the Four Seasons and the Elements to the whisky. Here are some images and impressions.

Bunnahabhain 18 Year Old – 46,3%
With Vivaldi’s Autumn concerto (3rd movement) and Earth

A complex Autumn dram. Deep, elegant and warm. To sip by the fireplace on a wet and misty day. Images of coloured leaves swirling in the wind.

Caol Ila 12 Year Old – 43%
With Vivaldi’s Winter Concerto (2nd movement) and Water

A Winter dram, invigorating enough to help us face a cold frosty morning. Gives a feeling of calm, like the sleep of nature. The air is damp and briny, charged with water, rain, ice or snow.

Bruichladdich 24 Year Old – Special Cantilena 2014 – 50,3%
With Vivaldi’s Spring Concerto (1st Movement) and Air

Jim Mac Ewan generously vatted two exceptional casks and produced two bottles for Cantilena Festival 2014, one of them was enjoyed at the tasting and the other auctioned on Friday evening concert (see below).
That whisky has matured in ex-bourbon casks then in ex sauternes cask (Yquem) and got an extra few months in Château Lafleur and Château Latour casks.

What a journey! Taking us to a luscious and vibrant Spring in the South hemisphere…

A wonderful dram, rich, intense, complex, combining fruit and oak in the most harmonious way. A full symphony of flavours… The floral notes are the violin, the fruit notes are the viola and the oak notes are the cello. The piano spices all the flavours up… The nectar of Cantilena.

Laphoaig 10 Year Old Cask Strength – Batch 6 – 58%
With Vivaldi’s Summer Concerto (3rd movement) and Fire

An intense Summer dram. We can feel the heat of the sun, like walking on warm sand and smelling burning seaweed and driftwood. Image of stormy clouds gathering, with thunderstorm in the distance on a hot afternoon. Flames of the bonfire with the wood cracking in the air. All sensations exacerbated.

An incredible auction

Cantelina whisky auctionThe stress was at its peak on the last day of Cantilena Music Festival before the final concert at Bruichladdich distillery for Pianist Scott Mitchell, Cantilena artistic director and I. As we had to auction a unique and exceptional bottle vatted by Master Distiller Jim McEwan for Cantilena. The bids took off at high speed and a tight battle between two bidders resulted in an incredible sale: the bottle reached £2 040, given by a generous local music fan. The money will go to Cantilena. Now we are assured they will come back next year. Do save the date, from 5th to 10th July 2015

In Brief

  • Le whisky pour les nuls by Philippe Jugé (June 2014)
    The collection “for the dummies” exists in France too. Philippe Jugé, my ex-colleague from Whisky Magazine France has just released a “whisky for the dummies” . . . in French of course with plenty of fun and serious information. I especially recommend the chapter : “L’Europe du whisky”.
  • The IWSC results have just been published. Among many winners, a Lidl bottling has got an “outstanding gold medal” in the Scotch Whisky blends (under 12 Year Old) category : Queen Margot 8 Year Old. I was in the judging panel and I tasted blind of course. But I remember that the blended flights were very interesting.

A Summer Postcard to wish you Happy Holidays

I will come back in September. Make the best of your summer. Here is a sunset symphony for you!

Sunset Montage

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