Easter Bunnies in Port Charlotte…….
This year we decided to move our annual spring week on Islay from the Feis Ile to the Easter week , We’ve been to the festival for so many years we’d seen it all , bought the t-shirt and read the book ! A break is as good as a rest so it was off to the Isle a few weeks earlier and to a change of accommodation as well , Lorgba cottages in Port Charlotte…….
Sat April 3rd
Once again it was an early start , 4.30am , for the 256 mile drive up to Kennacraig , after Fog in the Tyne Valley and rain the rest of the way we arrived at Dumbarton for our usual fill up (Diesel and Breakfast ! ) . Most of the hill tops still had snow on them and when we reached the summit of “Rest and Be Thankful” the Snow was by the road side . After another stop at Tarbert we headed off in the rain for the ferry port . Once again we were on The Hebridean Isles , interestingly all the foot passengers had to board by the car ramp after the recent accident when the Isle of Arran took out the Passenger Ramp .
After a calm but wet crossing , we headed to Port Charlotte to take up residence in the Lorgba Cottages , Very nice they are too , positioned just as you enter the Village from Bruichladdich , they are furnished to a very high standard , well decorated and have a great view across Loch Indaal……So good i’ve split it in two……
(Click on any of the Photos to see the full size version)
Tonights Drams :-
Ardbeg Uigeadail (L9)
Ardbeg 21yo (Committee Release)
Sun April 4th
Woke up to a bright and sunny Easter Sunday , a perfect day for Mel’s Birthday ! For lunch we headed off to The Old Kiln at Ardbeg , which for once was quite quiet , we both went for the Chicken Breasts in a creamy mustard sauce with crushed new potatoes and Sauted Cabbage , superb as usual , i was a bit of a pig and went for a pudding as well ( Pear , Apple and Cinnamon tart) ! After a bit shopping (two Corryvreckan T-shirts and an L10 Uigeadail) and a wander about the distillery (Lovely View across to Kintyre and Antrim ) we were going to go for a bit of a drive but got a text from Willie saying he was at The Islay House Square having a Pie and a Pint so we headed off there unfortunately too late to catch Willie but still in plenty of time to have a Pie and a Pint ! Mel went for the Finlaggan and i went for a special , “Kentucky Kiss” , a stout matured in ex bourbon casks . The only Pies left were “Steak and Ale” but by god they were good , the Steak melted in your mouth .
Once again we headed back to our cottage (would be silly if we didn’t….) to see the evening out and enjoy a few drinks……
Tonights Drams :-
Ardbeg Uigeadail (L10)
Mon April 5th
Decided to make this a lazy day as the weather didn’t look too clever , so after breakfast and a bit bumming around we headed off to the Port Charlotte Hotel and a bite to eat for lunch . The Bar was quite busy when we got there so we were ushered into the restaurant for our food (Baked Potatoe for Mel , Soup for myself ) . After finishing our food we returned to the bar , which was a bit emptier than before , and had an afternoon session , myself on the Whisky , Mel on the Pinot Grigio . My notes for the session were……..
|Year –||Age –||ABV – 46%|
|Nose – Classic Laddie nose , green fruit and creamy toffee , but with spirity tones .|
|Taste – Still quite youthful on the palate , The greenfruits (apples and pears )are still there but the spiritiness overwhelms it.|
|Finish – Long , creamy toffee but again too much youthful spiritiness .|
|Comments – Way too young for my palate , which is a shame as the new Laddie spirit has always showed great promise , maybe it just needs a few more years ?|
|Year – 2003||Age –||ABV – 46%|
|Nose – Now that’s a better Laddie , very fresh malted barley and creamy toffee .|
|Taste – Again big on the Barley really fresh on the palate with a touch of apples.|
|Finish – Medium and Toffee , quite chewy at the end with Lemon .|
|Comments – Altogether a better Laddie , better balanced and not as youthful tasting as the classic .|
|Port Charlotte (Ben Roys bottling)|
|Year –||Age – 6yo||ABV –|
|Nose – Quite smoky at first , Vanilla and a touch of red fruits (?).|
|Taste – Quite spirity at first then peat and caramel toffee .|
|Finish – Very long and Spirity .|
|Comments – Another one that could have done with a few more years in the cask , really shows it’s age on the finish .|
|Laphroaig Cask Strength Batch 01|
|Year –||Age – 10yo||ABV –|
|Nose – Very restrained on the nose , lots of sweetness but not a lot else going on .|
|Taste – A whole lotta Laphroaig on the palate , very medicinal , iodine , seaweed and seashore .|
|Finish – Lovely long finish , bags of iodine , very medicinal . Now this is more like a old Laphroaig !|
|Comments – Tastes like a Laphroaig of old , shame the nose is restrained but i’ve got an unopened one of these at home so i can double check it at some point .|
|MacArthurs 13yo Caol Ila|
|Year –||Age – 13yo||ABV –|
|Nose – Very peaty , more akin to a south shore malt , Bags of seashore as well .|
|Taste – A gorgeouus mouthfeel to it , peat , seaweed , a very good Islay .|
|Finish – Long and peaty , slightly medicinal.|
|Comments – A wonderful Caol Ila , tasted blind i very much doubt if anyone could say from which Islay distillery it came .|
We wandered back to the cottage (not much of a wander to be honest…) to have something to eat and see how the Championship panned out this evening , as it happened , we (Newcastle United) end up being promoted to Premier League before we’d kicked a ball !
Tues April 6th
It was raining when we awoke from our slumber this morning , so we decided to take it easy (again) and drove down to Ardbeg for a light lunch (as we’re dining at An Taigh Osda this evening ) . Picked up my Rollercoaster when we were there and got to catch up with Janey . Also bumped into Ella who was lunching with friends and Lorna who used to work at Laddie . After lunch we stopped at Laphroaig to pick up some of the new batch of Cask Strength .
In the Evening i took Mel out for her Birthday Meal To An Taigh Osda , another wonderful meal at Paul and Joans , Mel had the Steamed Langoustines in Orange and Ginger Sauce for starters , i went for the Haggis Balls on a Bed of Clapshot . We both had the Breast of Gressingham Duck , Sauted Potatoes , Red Cabbage with Apple sauce and a jus for our main meal . Osda never lets you down for a meal , even the locals comment on how consistant the quality is and we thoroughly agree !
Wed April 7th
We woke up to a beautiful day on Islay , after a light Brunch we set off for a walk along to Bruichladdich to see our good friend Mary at the distillery . It was a nice way to have our first walk on Islay this year ( yes we’ve been lazier than what we wanted…..) and to have a nice refreshment break in the middle , all the better ! Got to try a few laddies that have been recently released and catch up on the local news .
The evening was spent on the Weekly Whisky Chat .
Drams of the Day :-
Laddie PC8 / Fino Sherry Finish / Current Valinch / The Last Octomore / 17yo Rum Finish
Ardbeg Oogie (L9 / L10) / 21yo / 1976 Cask 2390 / Ar2 , PC4 R23 .
Thurs April 8th
Today was an early start , we’d booked on the Lagavulin Warehouse and decided to use the bus to get there , unfortunately it was chucking it down with rain when we set off , it looked like we were going to get wet walking from Port Ellen to Lagavulin . Normally we’re not on the bus route at Bunnahabhain so it was nice to view the Island from the comfort of a bus seat . Luckily when we set off on our walk from Port Ellen the rain had stopped , when we reached Laphroaig a friendly lift in the shape of Willies Wife Audrey appeared so we managed to arrive at the distillery in time for the 9.30 Tour . Marjory took us around on the tour before dropping us off in the warehouse For Pinkies Warehouse Demonstration .
Once again Pinkie was on top form and kept us entertained and informed during the entire demo and fed us some excellent Cask samples . The full list of drams on offer was a try of New Make , a 2000 10yo Barrel, A mystery cask (you’ll have to go to find out what !) , a 1993 17yo from a butt , A 1966 (a different cask from last summers) and a dram of the current 1993 double matured . Mel actually got to extract the first dram (the 2000) from the Cask and Willies daughter got to do the Mystery cask , i think it was part of Pinkies cunning plan to keep me and Willie away from the Casks ! I’m really glad that Diageo are keeping this experience going as it’s fantastic value for £15 and a damn good way to spend a Thursday Morning .
We walked along to Ardbeg after the Warehouse tour for a spot of lunch ( we were boring and had the delicious Breast of Chicken again ) before getting the bus back to our cottage , stopping off at Bowmore to pick up a bit shopping , have a look in the Distillery VC and have a natter with Janice in the tourist board centre . A quiet night was spent in the cottage……(who said sobbering up from the Lagavulin visit ?)
Drams of the day :-
All of the Laga Drams !
Fri April 9th
Another Glorious morning when we awoke , after a light Breakfast we headed off to Ardbeg for Lunch (again !) , another lovely meal in the Old Kiln . After a natter with Jackie we headed off to Bowmore to pick up a couple of Bottles at the distillery , Not Islay Whisky but Japanese whisky ! One Bottle of Yamazaki 12yo and one bottle of Hakushu 12yo . Then it was time for our traditional drive along the Mulindry Road to see the Pigs (Mel loves seeing them ) . On the way back to Port Charlotte we stopped at Laddie to say farewell to Mary and Ella and got a brief hello from the Sainted James , who’s first question was “Where’s your Daughter ?” What a smooth talking……..
So we packed our stuff up ready for the next morning , had a bite to eat then headed off to the Port Charlotte Hotel for an evening of drinking and to meet up with John Lee and his wife . It’s always nice to see one of the Wednesday Night Chatters in the Flesh . Also had a good chat to Graham the manager about his recent Stag party Visit (not his stag night i hasten to add….) to our home City . All in all a great way to spend your last night on Islay……
Sat April 10th
An Early start to pack the car and get to Port Ellen for the 9.45am ferry , as usual it was really really nice weather when we were leaving ! After another Islay Holiday Tradition , Sausage Sandwiches on the return Ferry , we spent the trip on the top deck sunning our selves and thinking of our return to the Isle in August…….