The 2023 tour with Ingvar, my pal fae Sweden, so well thought of everywhere, great to see him again.
Saturday 15th April – met at Edinburgh Airport, drove to Glasgow for overnight. Grub, drinks and catch up. Marcus driving, myself and Ingvar in the back!
Sunday 16 April – over to Arran to see Lagg Distillery – a new one for me and the boys, I must say many thanks to Fred for coming in and opening on a Sunday! He was very good, full of info and no shy with the drams! Young peaty drams but really good! Great place, plenty of room for tours, drinks at the bar and food. Then away to Lochranza – due to health I sat this one out but it was a good tour, and aye, I did partake of the drams! We spend the night near Lochranza.
Monday 17 April – we took the early boat over to Claonaig and down to Campbeltown to see Springbank, Glen Scotia and Glengyle. The Glen Scotia Distillery is one of the smallest Scotch whisky distilleries but one of the big names in Campbeltown, the former whisky capital of the world. It’s original design dating from the 1830s — including the mash tun, stillroom and dunnage warehouse. By 1835, it was one of almost 30 thriving distilleries in Campbeltown. Located at 12 High Street in Campbeltown (or as we refer to it, the Wee Toon), IAIN MCALISTER, MASTER DISTILLER took us round and supplied cask drams! The boys did the two others, I shared dram time once again! We stayed overnight here amongst the Campbells. A good time had at Ardshiel Hotel drinks/food.
Tuesday 18 April – over to Islay and Bowmore Distillery, the first licensed Islay distillery. It has stood on the shores of Lochindaal, a sea loch opening out into the wild Atlantic Ocean, since 1779. Some historians believe the name Bowmore, to be derived from a small black reef just outside Lochindaal, whilst others reference the Norse for sunken rock, bogha mor, as its’ origination. Overnight Islay in Bowmore. Quick thanks to Peter for all drams and gossip! The Bowmore Hotel has two bars and food.
Wednesday 19 April – 3 distilleries on Islay; Laphroaig – Donald and Alexander Johnston, who in 1815 founded their distillery on the island’s south coast. Laphroaig, so called after its’ location, ‘broad hollow by the bay.’ Lagavulin aye we were there even if someone wasnee! Dunyvaig Castle was once a naval base of the Lord of the Isles, chiefs of Clan Donald. It was held by the chiefs of the Clan MacDonald of Dunnyveg. A castle was built by Somerled, King of the Isles, on top of a fort or dun on a rocky promontory jutting into Lagavulin Bay. In 1614, the castle was taken by Ranald Og Macdonald, however it was retaken by Angus Og MacDonald, who attempted to bargain the castle’s surrender. Knox attempted to retake the castle in September 1614 and was defeated and compelled to retreat. The MacLeans refused to serve with him, and he could raise no more than seventy men, of whom fifty were waged soldiers and twenty followers of the lairds of Ardincaple and Ranfurly. When he landed on Islay, lacking any further armed support, the Clan Donald of Islay, outmanoeuvred him and cut him off from his boats, which they looted and destroyed. The next day Knox was told he should surrender the two hostages or all his men would be executed. Knox noted that the MacDonalds had built a new fort in the loch. A great lunch at Ardbeg – a tour with Colin Gordon and a chat and hug from Jackie Thomson. VISITOR CENTRE MANAGER AND CHAIRMAN OF THE ARDBEG COMMITTEE
ELIXIR DISTILLERS the in-progress Islay distillery, which is to be called Portintruan, first broke ground at the end of 2020. Located just outside the town of Port Ellen on Islay’s south coast, Portintruan is pronounced Port-nah-truan. A fab chat here we found out lots of info, looking forward to this one opening. Oh aye, we also dropped by the Kildalton Cross!
Thursday 20 April – Bruichladdich Distillery was built in 1881 by the Harvey brothers—William (32), John (31) and Robert (23)—on the shore of Loch Indaal, on the Rinns of Islay, the westernmost part of the island. Another good tour, a theme on this tour, thanks to Ingvar. Founded in 2005, Kilchoman was the first new distillery to be built on Islay in over 124 years. Anthony Wills, Kilchoman Founder, set out to resurrect the grass roots tradition of farm distilling. Our 100% Islay range represents the revival of those traditions, standing alone as Islay’s only farm single malt scotch whisky. Very good visitor facilities, drams were flowing, many thanks. Jura 15.00 (we took the Port Askaig/Feolin ferry 14.15 and going back 16.55) a landing craft Marcus needed to reverse onto!!! Jura Prophecy, is named for the 18th century story of an old seer who, as she was being evicted from her home by the Campbells that dominated Jura at the time, foretold that the final Campbell on the island would have one eye and carry all of his possessions in a cart drawn by a white horse. That “prophecy” supposedly came true in 1938, when Charles Campbell, blinded in one eye during World War I, supposedly fell on hard times and had to leave the island in the state predicted by the seer. Great true story
Friday 21 April – Bunnahabhain Distillery, situated at the end of a small rough single track road, on the shores of the Sound of Islay, known for its spectacular surroundings and delicious signature unpeated Islay single malt whisky. It’s a hard road to drive but well worth it. Ardnahoe Distillery next, thanks ladies for the tea and cake, no to mention a dram or two. Caol Ila 12.30 just had major upgrade, very good visitor centre, aye well. We took the ferry from Port Askaig to Kennacraig and stayed overnight in Tarbert. Paul & Marcus; stayed around the corner, at one of the most weird places ever, clowns, dolls, muppets everywhere, 2 dogs, a garden full of weird stuff!
Saturday 22 April – drove Ingvar to Edinburgh via a quick call at Auchentoshan Distillery, a great tour once again. He had a few meetings and things to see, as usual, he flew home after two days there, see you again Ingvar!