Islay Festival Features Best of Scotland's Malts and Music

The island's 8 distilleries put on a show for the 26th anniversary event

Where better to sip some whiskey than on Scotland's Islay island? The island, population 3,200, is what you might call the capital of single-malt whiskey, with a whopping eight distilleries in the area. And the people of Islay know how to drink — with each year's Islay Festival of Malt and Music, this year beginning May 25 and running through June 3.

The festival, now in its 26th year, features malt whiskeys plus Scottish and traditional Gaelic entertainment. Musical highlights include local fiddle bands (complete with Ceilidh dancing), an ABBA tribute band, and Hugo Duncan, an Irish country and western singer (we didn't know such a genre existed). Plus, the Scottish national poet Liz Lochhead will have her own event with other local poets and artists on May 31.

And Islay's distilleries are also getting in on the action. Complete with "nosing competitions," distillery tours, and whiskey-food pairings (the Taste of Bowmore & Islay Oysters combination sounds delicoius), festival-goers will get the complete taste of Islay's best malts.

Can't make it to Scotland? Learn how to enjoy a single-malt stateside from master distiller Iain McCallum.