The current incarnation of Islay Pipe Band started life as Islay Piping Society in April 1991, as a way of keeping the islands more proficient pipers off the streets at night (there is little more frightening to the relaxed holiday maker that confrontation by a band of maurauding pipers with sporrans flailing in the wind). Its formation also allowed the encouragement and teaching of younger members of our populace in the intricacies of the practice chanter, with a view to moving on to the Great Highland Bagpipe when skill caught up with ambition.
In May of 1992, the proficient pipers, admirably inspired by the erstwhile secret policeman, decided it was time to move up a gear (musically speaking) and add a few drummers and allow metamorphosis of Islay Piping Society into Islay Pipe Band.
As far as can be ascertained and it has to be admitted that they havent delved into the history as deeply as they probably could, the last Islay Pipe Band to grace the island existed from the early to mid 1950s. There has, however been one or two incarnations of Islay Piping Society during the intervening 30 or so years and all credit must go to the secret policeman whose arresting qualities made the current Pipe Band what it is today.
Since only one contemporary practising snare drummer could be found (drummers are, by nature, a very reticent people), the majority of the current drum section only commenced their percussive careers over the past year or so and it is no small testament to this fact that the band competed at the 1994 Cowal Games only two and a half years after formation. This progress and enthusiasm is not only confined to the drum corp, as there are now pipers in the band who had not even played chanter when it was formed in 1992. The face of the band has changed somewhat since the end of last year due to the disappearance of several members to the mainland and, in some cases, other pipe bands.
Financially, the band has been most generously supported by local estate owners on a regular basis, which allowed them to kit every drummer and piper with tunic and kilt (Lord of the Isles tartan). The support of Morrisons Bowmore Distillery must also not unheralded.
The Islay Pipe Band are likely to appear at various events and festivities throughout the summer season. The crowning glory of the home season is a regular appearance at the Islay Show in early August, before transporting to Dunoon at the end of the month for the Cowal Highland Games.
In 2007 Islay Pipe Band were celebrating their new name, The Black Bottle Islay Pipe Band, after receiving sponsorship from the brand, which hails from Bunnahabhain Distillery. This was the first time that the band had received sole sponsorship and this meant that the Black Bottle name and logo were featured on the skins of the bass drum along with the band name and Islay crest. The Black Bottle logo was also featured on the band members clothing. The sponsorship helped to finance travel and accommodation arrangements for the band who promoted Black Bottle Blended Scotch Whisky throughout the year at various competitions they attended. The pipe band, under the leadership and instruction of Pipe Major Nigel Morris, won their first trophy at Pitlochry Highland Games in 2008.
In recent years the Islay Pipe Band lost their sponsor Black Bottle but they did manage to book fabulous results. In 2007 the Islay Pipe Band had Grade 4B and in the 2010 season the managed to get Grade 3A. In 2012 Kilchoman Distillery started a new sponsorship with the Islay Pipe Band. Below are some of the impressive 2011 season results:
Watch a Video from the Islay Pipe Band at Bruichladdich 2007