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Bladnoch Whisky – Folk & Blues Festival August 2009

Bladnoch Whisky – Folk & Blues Festival August 2009

Having arranged some weeks ago for Jim and I, (with wives) to visit this much advertised gig, it turned out not to be, as an e-mail from Auchentoshan arrived inviting the Whisky Boys to their own festival, and so these two excellent Distilleries managed to do what the lovely Catherine and Jackie can’t do at weekends – Separate The Whisky Boys.

Friday night’s entertainment saw Cathie and I arrive late (not realising it was a 7 p.m. kick off), but we were on time to catch the end piece of Bladnoch Accoustica. This was a group of local musicians drawn together by their love of folk, which soon got the audience’s approval.

Whilst waiting for the next act to step up onto the stage we found ourselves a couple of seats at the bar which gave us an excellent vantage point. I ordered a 16 year old Bladnoch for us both and we soon got carried away savouring them, Catherine is just beginning to enjoy a tasting and found it sweet and good. I thought it had a sweet biscuity flavour with a salty tang and a light spicy tingle. It was very easy !! But I digress, next up was a young local lad, James Murray, who brought us back to earth with his excellent guitar work and his unusual voice. His beautiful lyrics reminded us both of James Blunt’s style of music. As young James ended his routine I returned to the bar to re-order and was addressed by the guy next to me “are you Yogi” ? he enquired, I said “no I’m Whisky Boy Dougie”, His name was Hugh and he and his colleague John (serving behind the bar, -cheers John !) run the Distillery with owner Raymond Armstrong at the helm, all the way from grinding the grist, through to mashing, distilling, warehousing etc. As we spoke, who should arrive beside us but Raymond and his wife, who also had a large part to play by manning the busy shop and online sales (no doubt plenty more besides). Raymond introduced himself and his wife, and we spent a few moments chatting, then the next group was announced and Raymond was off again (rather a hard man to pin down).

The next group was Heimve four guys from Norway playing the whistle, guitar, fiddle and accordion. If I could dance a jig, those are the boys I would want to dance to.

When Heimve finished, Hugh turned to me and informed me of this particular 3 year old spirit they had recently started to develop from a bourbon cask (ex Wild Turkey) and it is anticipated that it is going to be a very good Whisky in 4 or 5 years time – I look forward to that – “Hugh remember to give us a Heads Up when it is ready”. Hugh also advised that Bladnoch had a great 7 year old peated, but there was none for sale in the bar and I forgot to buy one next day from the shop (watch out for my blog re the Distillery visit).

Next on stage was Bellevue Rendezvous playing a selection of folk from all around the world. A trio, two guys, one on fiddle, and boy can he “fiddle”, you should see that wrist action. the other guy was playing the Bazuki – what a great sounding instrument and this chap really knew how to create the best sound. Finally a lassie made up the trio, I cannot describe what she was playing, it was played like a fiddle, but not from the chin, but from under her arm and resembled nothing that I had seen before. Together they could play some knockout reels, just as Bellevue Rendezvous finished, Hugh pointed out “Yogi” as he passed, and we shook hands (being fellow forum members) I could see how people could think I was him, as we both have the same “hairstyle”.

The last group on stage was six lads from Skye called Skerryvore, those guys, to me showed their talent by each playing different instruments throughout the session, coupling the instrumentals with excellent vocals. Their rendition of “Caledonia” was great.

So came the end of a very entertaining evening and I would like to thank everyone involved in the production – Raymond Armstrong for providing the venue, Hugh for the craic! and of course John for his stalwart effort behind the bar. Oh ! and cheers Yogi, – may be see you guys tomorrow when I take the Distillery visit.

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