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Islay - peat whisky heaven

rain 16 °C

 Islay - peat whisky heaven 

Up at 5am and off north to Inverness, amazed once again by the meaness of the Scottish highways and the lack of signs, (phil is convinced that the dept of finance in Scotland must be doing a fantastic job - pity there is no time for him to learn their tricks). But it also means it is incredibly slow to get anywhere often just 20 miles an hour!

South from Inverness along loch ness we looked for the loch ness monster, and found the absolutely worst coffee in Scotland!! Went to the Loch Ness centre at Dromnadritch renowned for its displays to get you to decode whether the monster is real.  It was very useful for Arthur as a camera tart, but even public servants could work out a monster wasn't a goer once given there is almost no fish life in the Loch - nothing for even a small monster to live on.
  
From there the picturesque scenery of the west coast of Scotland took over - little towns and stone cottages (and huge mansions ) around Loch Ness, Loch Linnhe and Loch Fyne.  What a great place for a weekender from Glasgow!! However we had no time to dawdle, so  phil, determined to prove he could have had a career as a racing car driver cut corners, and got us to Tarbert well ahead of time.  Enough time to take some more photos of Arthur in the quaint fishing village (much nicer than those on the east coast we had visited earlier in the week).

The Ferry to Islay was great, and very neat the way they got 100 cars on it in almost no time!!!  Two hours across the ocean with the western islands emerging from the mists - not Skye but a very romantic feeling. We stood out on the deck for the last part of the voyage and watched the docking at Port Askaig - very impressive. We then drove in convoy across the island to Bowmore (the only time there are more than two cars traveling together on the island is when the ferry comes in) and the Lovely (and luxurious) Harbour Inn.

Surprise! Surprise! We spent most of our time on Islay visiting distilleries.  However we managed to squeeze in a visit to an old woolen mill (built in 1500s but now with machines from the 1800s) which was amazing, took a short drive to the south of the island, met some locals in a great little coffee shop, and Cate walked around the shops in Bowmore.

The first distillery we visited on Islay was Bruichladdich.  This distillery is known for its innovative and creative approach to whisky making.  They try new and different approaches to making and maturing its whiskies.  Its also much less peaty in taste in its standard whisky forms, although it does make a extra peat flavoured single malt whisky. Phil, Cate and Arthur tasted a few different whiskies, and Phil got to fill his own whisky bottle from a barrel of special  Bruichlaidich whisky which was then sealed and labelled so it could be brought back to Australia for consumption at a later date.
 
Laphroigh distillery was next.  We went on a tour??!! What a surprise!!  But this time Phil had to be stopped from answering the questions and giving the tour!!!  Phil was very upset that he couldn't claim his plot of Laphroig land as he hasn't become a "friend of Laphroaig" yet -hadn'tcompleted the paperwork. They had the flags for each country to put on your plot, and umbrellas,raincoats and wellingtons so you can tramp over the land to find your plot. Someone was silly enough to mention tnat you can get buried on your plot, so phil is thinking seriously about this, and also coming back next year with Sam to claim his plot properly.  He also drank two drams - 16yo, and the cask strength whiskey.  
 
We then tried to get into Ardbeg (the whiskey phil got for his birthday)who obviously had heard about us in advance and closed up shop for the day before we arrived.  So we went to Lagavulin, which had the best tasting room - like an old fashioned smoking room with the fire etc - and Phil knocked back 2x16yo & 18 yo.

Obviously the only thing to do after all this tasting is dinner with a couple of nice whiskies.  So back to the hotel for a gorgeous dinner and a dram of 1968 Bunnahabhain Auld Acquaintance malt whisky which cost a staggering amount of money!

Off on the early ferry from port Ellen to Kennacriag.  Still raining and gorgeous view of arriving back on the mainland.

Posted by pepaninja 13:34

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