The first whisky themed festival to be held in the Outer Hebrides will be launched this summer on the island of Eriskay next month. 

On the Rocks, Eriskay’s brand new Midsummer Festival will run from the 24th to the 25th of June and will take inspiration from the 2016 film Whisky Galore!, a remake of Compton McKenzie’s classic book, which pays homage to the original film shot 70 years ago.

The island’s local pub, Am Politician, and the Eriskay Village Hall will be a focal point for the festival activities.

The pub was named after the boat, SS Politician, which ran aground with its hoard of 250,000 bottles of whisky – which the local population felt duty bound to liberate.

Co-sponsors of the event, Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky, will be on hand behind the bar with their Whisky Galore Speyside malt and Politican blend as a fitting tribute to the festival at the Am Politican Bar.

Organisers say that over the course of the midsummer weekend, there will also be a screening of the Outer Hebridean premiere of Whisky Galore!

Other highlights will include singing sessions in the finest Gaidhlig, with traditional singers from Barra and Uist performing, including singer Mairi MacInnes, who is featured on the soundtrack to Whisky Galore!, singing Gairm Na h-oidhche (Calling the Night).

Piper and whistle player Alana MacInnes and fiddler player Eilidh Shaw will lead the Ho-ro- gheallaidh sessions over the weekend, while ceilidh band Sorradale will tear up the dance floor on Midsummer’s night.

The festival will also feature an exhibition of artefacts from the SS Politician, and examples of unique Eriskay knitted jumpers used to identify fisherman at sea.

Over the weekend there will be experts on hand able to speak about the poetry of Father Allan MacDonald, the 19th century Roman Catholic priest, poet and folklore collector who lived on Eriskay.

The festival is co-sponsored by the Isle of Harris Distillery. Its Managing Director Simon Erlanger said: “The distillery was established to support the economies not only of Harris but of all the Outer Hebridean Islands and we are thrilled to be partners of this inaugural whisky themed festival on the beautiful Isle of Eriskay.

“One day it would be marvelous to see the Outer Hebrides recognised as a new Whisky Region of Scotland”.

As well as providing the now famous Isle of Harris gin, the distillery will run a masterclass to introduce its ‘new make spirit’, destined to mature into the Isle of Harris Single Malt, The Hearach.

Fellow co-sponsors Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky’s Chairman, Euan Shand, commented; “I loved the original film, over 30 years ago, and wanted to create whiskies that would celebrate the original Whisky Galore story.

“We’re delighted that the tale has been brought back to life this year.  The Eriskay Midsummer Festival gives us a perfect opportunity to celebrate our brands that complement the re-make of the film in this stunning part of Scotland.”

In welcoming the festival, Alan MacKenzie, Islands Manager for VisitScotland, explains that the new film Whisky Galore! has a strong link with the island’s history and culture. He said: “Scotland is rightly famed the world over for our traditional music, ceilidhs, songs, poetry and storytelling, not forgetting our warm hospitality. This festival encapsulates what makes the Outer Hebrides such a draw for visitors from all corners of the globe.

“It’s also a perfect fit that the island’s first whisky themed festival is launched during Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.”

As well as the site where the real SS Politician, bound for Jamaica, sank in February 1941.The island itself is famed for its sandy beaches, including Coilleag a’Phrionnsa (the Prince’s Cockle Strand) where Bonnie Prince Charlie took his first step onto Scottish soil to launch the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion.

 

 

 

 

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