Summer 2007

Once more we head over to Islay for our annual summer trip , this time our place of residence is the cottages of Bunnahabhain Distillery , after the hustle and bustle (!?!?) of Port Ellen last year we decided we wanted somewhere a bit more remote this year for a bit of peace and tranquillity . It was another early start to get to the terminal at Kennacraig and once there that’s when we had a bit of fun and games ! The Hebridean Isles as some may know is not in full operating condition , the front ramp is knackered so you exit and enter by the stern ramp . so we drove on as normal , turned around on the deck and reversed into our final position . Some drove on as normal and ended up pointing the wrong way when arriving on Islay , how they got off i know not as we were one of the first off at Port Askaig .

It was a short drive to Bunnie , once there we were shown to our cottage which i must say is superb , it’s the furthest away from the distillery and has a fantastic view across Bunnahabhain bay and up the Sound of Islay towards Colonsay and Mull . On arrival even though it’s summer there was a real fire burning in the grate which though it may seem a bit strange was a perfect welcome . We were hoping to be sitting outside enjoying a glass or two tonight but at the moment it’s drizzling so instead we have to make do with admiring the scenery out of the window .

(Click on the Photos to see full size)

Bunnahabhain Cottage
Inside the Cottage
View from the Cottage

Started off with one of the complimentary Drams of 12yo Bunnie , a nice way to get the holiday going . Next up was some of the remains of the 2001 FI bottling , a lovely sherried 1965 , not much left now so it will be killed off on this trip .Then onto Sukhinder’s recent 1979 46% bottling , great stuff …..

Day Two , the rains continued from last night but the views still great out of window ! After a late breakfast it was off for a drive to the Bridgend Hotel for Sunday Lunch , i had an exceptional piece of lamb and Mel went for the beautiful Beef , they do an all round excellent Sunday lunch in the Bridgend . For pudding we decided to drive down to The Old Kiln , i could smell the Clootie Dumpling at this distance …… unfortunately we got there and it was absolutely chocker block ! We headed back north with a stop in Bowmore to pick up supplies including a bottle of Macgibbons 8yo Bunnahabhain which was opened on arrival back at the cottage . Very spirity but with all the Bunnie flavours you expect , it was followed by a SMWS 40yo Farclas and a 1975 Ardbeg 25yo .

View of the Distillery
Distillery Sunset
Mull Sunset

The third day and it’s raining again ! We have a bit of a lazy day , sitting around for a while then heading off to Bowmore to do a bit of shopping and have a meal in The Lochside . The malt selection is quite stunning in the bar , unfortunately the same words can’t be used for the meal ! Very , very disappointing especially seeing they seem to have invested quite a bit of money in an extension to move the kitchen .

Onto Day Four and it’s time to meet up with Harry for a couple of days , I leave Mel at the Cottage to meet up with Harry at Laphroaig for the early tour . Being the start of August this is the “Silent Season” for most of the distilleries , Laphroaig has it’s fair share of workmen around the place . It’s a fairly standard tour , given the shut-down , it’ll probably be the last time for a while i do a tour there after all it was Iain Hendersons leaving tours the last time i was around the place , We head off to Ardbeg for lunch …..

Bunnahabhain Distillery
Paps of Jura

After a quick look around the shop we sit down and enjoy a meal in the Old Kiln with a few drams of 70’s Ardbegs . Harry goes for the Salmon and i have a Ham and Lentil Soup and we both have the Famous Clootie dumpling . We’re booked into the 2.30pm tour so between lunch and that we have a bit of a wander around to work off the food . The tour is conducted by a new lad who i must say was very good and luckily for Harry the distillery is in full production , which is always an added bonus , so he gets the full nasal effect ! After a few end of tour Drams , we bump into Mickey who gives us a try of an absolutely delicious 8yo Ardbeg which has been matured in a Burgundy Cask (Matured not finished !) i’ll have a case please ! He also gives Harry a try of the Toasted Cask Ardbeg we had at the festival , good news for the chatters….. Mickey enjoyed his visit to the chatroom and will return , we look forward to his next visit ! We head off for a drive along to Kildalton before heading back to Bunnahabhain to pick Mel up , then off to The Port Charlotte Hotel for a meal . We drop Harry back off at Port Ellen after a diversion to the Lochside .

The Fifth Day see’s us picking Harry up to head over to Bruichladdich for the morning tour . After a bit of a natter to Ella and Mary , we head off on our first tour with Mary and what a cracker it was ! She’s a star !! Mind you she gave me some stick …… Laddie is on it’s silent season (production resumes next week) but Mary overcomes this , i must say it’s the most enjoyable tours i can remember . Heading into the Bottling Hall we bump into The Laird of Laddie , Sir James himself , he gives us a try of the new PC6 (some of which i manage to spill down my t-shirt…..D’oh!) and it’s very good , 5 years in bourbon casks and if i remember correctly 1 year in Madeira casks , it’s certainly progressed since PC5 .

Laddie Tour with Mary 1
Laddie Tour with Mary 2
Laddie Tour with Mary 3

A few drams are offered after the tour and purchases are made (the current valinche and an older one , Robin Laing’s new CD and a soap for Mel ) , also bumped into Christine Logan (who had fetched a few people for the tour) , and had a natter with Simon , Chrissie and Lorna from the distillery , It’s always a pleasure to visit Laddie and Marys tour this time made it extra special ! We went off for lunch at the PCH ( a beautiful Duck leg for us and a Sea Bream for Harry ) before heading off for a drive around the Rhinns including a stop at Portnahaven . After driving back to Port Ellen and bidding farewell to Harry we headed back to Bunnahabhain for a quiet night with a few drams .

3 Laddie-teers
Portnahaven 1
Portnahaven 2
Harry in Portnahaven

Two Days left on Islay and we’ve had a quiet day after 2 days of showing Harry around the isle . It’s show day but we decide to give it a miss , the show is still going on but no animals will be exhibited from what we gather due to the recent restrictions after the Foot and Mouth outbreak . After a shopping trip we spend the day at Bunnahabhain , while Mel spends some time catching Rays in the back garden i went for a wander around the headland . There are some wonderful views up the Sound and it gave me a chance to have a look at the rapidly disintegrating wreck of the fishing trawler ‘The Wyre Majestic’ . After taking a few photo’s around the Bay i headed back to the cottage for a few afternoon drams on the tables at the front where Mel joined me to enjoy the glorious sunshine . Unfortunately this evening the rain returned but the drams continued ! Tonight we also bid farewell to another old friend , the 1965 Bunnahabhain was laid to rest , a fitting end to a fantastic dram , returning to it’s place of birth to be finished !

Bunnahabhain Cottages
Bunnahabhain Distillery
Bunnahabhain Distillery
Bunnahabhain Wreck
Bunnahabhain Wreck
The Last Dram

The final day on Islay and another relaxing lazy one , after a late lie in we head off to Ardbeg for lunch at The Old Kiln , once again it’s very busy and we have a bit of a wait for a table but the wait is worth it !

The rest of the day is spent back at the cottage chilling out , drinking and packing up ready to head off home . This has been one of our best trips over , the cottage was superb , the weather eventually got out and we had a brilliant time ! We shall return to the Bunnahabhain Cottages next year ……but for two weeks hopefully!!!!!!

The Spoils of the Holidays……

  • MacGibbons Provenance 1998 8yo Bunnahabhain (Islay Whisky Shop)
  • Vatican Valinch 1991 from Bourbon cask , Ace’d in Chateu Lafleur Pomerol (Current Valinch , Distillery)
  • Purest Valinch 1990 from Refill Bourbon ( Old Valinch , Distillery)
  • 2 x Still Young , at the old price worth it !(Distillery)
  • Mission Islay Trilogy , a vatting of 3 Pre 1969 Bowmore/Bruichladdich/Bunnahabhain casks (Islay Whisky Shop)
  • Signatory 1978 / 27yo Bunnahabhain Cask 2542 (Loch Fyne Whiskies)
  • Kilchoman 2007 New Spirit (Islay Whisky Shop)
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