Summer 2008 Visit

The Bunnahabhain Diaries…..

Sat August 2ndThe Journey up wasn’t to bad , a bit wet though . Stopped off at Inveraray to pic up some supplies at Loch Fyne Whisky , Andy gave us a try of an up and coming release , The Tobermory 15yo , which was remarkably decent for a Tobermory given the past pedigree of the 10yo ! whiskies picked up….

  • Ardbeg Renaissance X2
  • Laddie Links Royal Birkdale
  • Laddie “Peat”
  • Glenmorangie Astar

By the time we got to Kennacraig the weather was Sunny but breezy . By mid afternoon we’d reached our goal , The Bunnahabhain Cottages , after unpacking and a relaxing cup of tea we quickly got into holiday mode in the lovely evening sunshine……

Todays Drammage……Had to start off with a Bunnahabhain , the 1966 Feis Ile Bottling , then several Signatory 1978 27yo Bunnies followed by quite a few Ardbeg Renaissances , A good start to the Holidays !

Sun August 3rd – A tad over cast when we first got up this morning , got out brighter later on in the morning though . After a leisurely breakfast we headed down to the South Shore via the Mulindry Road , lots of wild life on show , Single Deer , herds of Deer , Buzzards , Eagles and not so wild Pigs ! Lunch was had in the Old Kiln Cafe at Ardbeg , Hebridean Chicken for myself and Baked Potato Prawn Marie Rose for the good woman . Then it was a drive back to Bunnahabhain via Bowmore for an Evening of new malts…..

Glenmorangie Astar Glenmorangie Astar 57.1% 

Glenmorangies New Cask Strength Malt , Matured in casks made from air dried fine grain oak from the Ozark Mountains of Missouri . Bright Gold in colour , The first thing that strikes you on the nose is the Vanilla , bags of it , a sweetness as well (confectioners Sugar) , spices , coconut and Honey . On the Palate it is also very sweet , again vanilla . It also has the taste of Battenburg cake (Almond ) and Digestive bicuits . The finish is long and creamy .

This is a truly outstanding Glenmorangie , it reminds me of many a Society Glenmo , it is very complex to say the least , a wonderful addition to their range !

Bruichladdich Links “Birkdale , England” 46% 

Number 9 in the Series , from Ex- bourbon casks ( as the other Homer says “Woo-hoo! ) . Polished Gold in colour , bags of fruit on the nose , apples , pears , gooseberries , also digestive biscuits . Still a bit of fruit on the palate but not as much as on the nose , a touch of Lemon Drizzle cake , a wee touch of creamy fudge . A sweet finish (honey) .

A really nice , Traditional Laddie . All the usual smells and tastes in the right places !

Bruichladdich Links Berksdale
Bruichladdich Peat Bruichladdich “Peat” 46% 

The Replacement for the 3D series , burnished copper in colour , an unusual peat on the nose , mossy , also the Laddie fruit (gooseberries , apples….) . The palate is like taking a deep breathe of peat smoke while standing over a peat fire or possibly what it would be like to drink a glass of water with ashes mixed in it ! A very long peaty finish .

I’d love to know exactly what is in the mix of this bottle , it’s an unusual taste , different from the other Islay “Peats” , it seems very young but is still quite enjoyable .

Mon August 4th – A fairly Quiet day today , a quick visit to the Metropolis that is Bowmore , then a visit to Islay Ales to pick up some beer before a day spent in the sun at Bunnahabhain Bay ! I did spend some of today reading the Whisky Dreams Book , not a bad read but (a) did someone not check the spelling of Caol Isla ? and (b) did someone not check the peating levels of Ardbeg ? Hmmmm

Enjoyed one of the newly purchased Islay Ales late this afternoon , the Angus Og , bought it because it said in the tasting notes it was like an IPA and it was ! I’ve got a couple of others to try out ( looking to return home with some…) as well as my personal favourite The Saligo Ale . On the drammage front it was just a few from the two SMOS 1979 Bunnie bottlings tonight , both are exceedingly good but the new 28yo definitely wins it for me !

Tues August 5th – After a late Breakfast we headed off to Bruichladdich for our first visit of the Holidays , we had a good natter to Mary , Ella and Jim . Had a try of the Current Valinch (Whisky Dream Dram / Aced in a Barbaresco Cask ) and the X4 +1 , which had changed colour and taste in the 2 months since the festival ( Jim reckons the heat in the shop will have sucked the colour out of the cask , so it at least proves where the Laddie whisky gets the colour from !) . Before we left Mary took me to see Jim to get one of the Valinches i’d picked up signed , we caught him working on the new PC7 . History repeated itself ….kind of….He kindly gave me a try of it (he let me try the PC6 last summer , which i proceeded to dribble down my t-shirt….) , luckily this time i hit my Mouth Fully ! This one will be at 46% and from Ex-Bourbon Casks (Woo-hoo ! again….see earlier….) , the Verdict ? The most balanced of the series so far , very , very good , Still lots of peat and it seems to thrive on the lower ABV. Mary summed it up when she said that my face told her i enjoyed this one more than last years . Another good Job Jim ! Apart from picking up a couple of Valinches that had been put aside , the Damage today was……

  • “X4 +1” Valinch (From Festival)
  • “Whisky Dream Dram” Valinch (Current)
  • Bruichladdich 1998 Sherry Edition Manzanilla 10yo
  • Bruichladdich 1998 Sherry Edition Oloroso 10yo
  • Bruichladdich Twenty One

We spent the rest of the afternoon on the Rhinns , driving down to Portnahaven for a wee bite at the pub , then back up the west road to Port Charlotte for a rest and some dinner at the Port Charlotte Hotel ( Mel had her old Favourite of Thai Red Curry , i went for a poussin ), i also tried a Laddie 1994 Full strength . Very good , loads of Green fruits and creamy fudge , don’t know why i let this one pass me by……

Then it was back to Bunnahabhain for the rest of the night .

Wed August 6th – The worst day weather wise of our stay so far , Yesterday at Laddie we’d been told that James May and Oz Clarke were on the Island and were going to do a bit of filming this morning at the Airport involving driving the Laddie sponsored le Mans car around the runway with it powered by the Laddie Whisky “X4” . So we headed off bright and early to the Airport only for nothing to happen , whether it was too wet nobody knows but lots of people were there to watch it , the car had been sighted , lots of
Laddie people were sighted but no doubt we’ll find out on Friday…….

So after a brief visit back to the cottage we settled for Lunch at a very busy Old Kiln , had a quick natter with Jackie and Mickey , a wander to the pier and headed back to Bunnie ! Later on we headed over to the other side of the Island to drop in on the weekly SOI chat and say hi (no internet connection here….) . Then it was back to bunnie for a dram…..

Tonights Drammage….. Started off with one of the complimentary 12yo Bunnahabhain Minis , seemed very different to the normal size Bunnie 12yo , didn’t seem as sherried , slight orange on the nose along with the familiar Edinburgh Rock , it also seemed to taste older but it was still very oily in the glass . Next up was a head to head of the Society 125.13 and the new Astar , which to be honest there wasn’t a great deal of difference , The Astar seemed more pronounced on the smells and tastes but that’s about it . Both prove that Glenmorangie at cask Strength is another world away from the standard 10yo at 40% ! Next dram up was the Laddie Links No.9 , i’m glad there’s another ex-bourbon – mid teen Laddie out but…..it doesn’t match up to the excellent XVII .Time For Ardbeg…..

First was the Beist 2008 bottling , this seems to be getting more and more Ardbeg-diney with every tasting , followed it with a Provenance just to check how iodiney it was and it certainly has that taste , not up to it ! but pretty damn close !!! Finished the evening off with a few Renaissances…..as you do…..then hit the sack .

Thurs August 7th – This is definitely our lazy day , lounging about the cottage , chilling out .

Islay Ales File…..The second of the Islay Ales i’ve never had , The Single Malt Ale 5% ABV, even though this ones been out for 3 years never got round to sampling it ( The Saligo is always calling….) , very nice , not too hoppy , nice bitter finish , Damn another one to add to the list to take back !

Friday August 8th – A Busy day after yesterday…..for a holiday anyway…..in the morning we headed over to Bruichladdich for a cask visit . Always a treat to visit the bairns , this time we were actually getting a sample out of each , the colour on both are amazing . The Geordie Laddies 2001 Port Charlotte Ex-Bourbon Barrel is going great guns , it’s very balanced with very little of the young spirit taste left , it’s got a very good peaty taste , probably one of the best PC’s i’ve tasted , i’m very , very happy with it’s progress and i hope the rest of the shareholders are .

The Spirit of Islay Cask ( 2002 Port Charlotte in a Refill Sherry Hogshead) still has a long way to go , the nose has a bit of a sherry twinge to it now mixing in with the peat , there’s a touch of green fruits . On the palate it’s still very young and spirity , the peats there but most other things are masked by the spirit . While it’s only 6yo it would be nice to leave it at least another 8 years .

We spent a little time back at the distillery afterwards chatting to Mary and other casks owners who had been visiting . It looks like a “Spirit of Islay II” cask might be on the cards , this time Bruichladdich Spirit in an Ex-bourbon Barrel . We headed off to Ardbeg for Lunch (again) at the Old Kiln , after lunch we had a bit of a dram and a natter with Mickey , got to try a 1975 sherry again amongst other things , gave Mickey a try of a couple of Indy Ardbegs , he was very impressed with Sukhinders 8yo ! After getting back to the cottage we had a bit of a late night a few old Malts (Ardbeg 1967 , Bunnie 1966 ) hence…..

Sat August 9th – Had a very long lie in this morning , also just bummed around the Cottage seeing we’ve got another week to go , it was great knowing we still had another week left in such beautiful surroundings . Enjoying a night on the Ardbeg , once again the Renaissance is being hit along with the 2008 Beist .

Sun August 10th – A really nice day weather wise apart from a bit of a wind , went out for a bit of a drive and to pick up the papers and ended up at Ardbeg for an afternoon drink . It was lovely sitting outside in the sunshine watching the world go by……

We spent a very pleasant evening with probably the nicest person on Islay ( alongside Mary…. ) , Ella ( who also works for Bruichladdich ) , it was the first time we’d had to sit down outside the distillery with Ella to have a good natter . A wonderful woman who it’s a joy to talk to and spend time with !

Mon August 11th – Today we headed over to Jura for a visit , first call was The Jura Hotel for lunch , which quite frankly was a disappointment for us , the food wasn’t the best and neither was the surroundings which is a shame given the view out of the window ! We then headed back to Jura House and spent the afternoon doing the Garden walk . It’s a lovely walk, through Woodland , along Clifftops and seashore ending at the lovely Walled Garden .

We headed back to Bunnahabhain for a quiet evening at the Cottage .

Tues August 12th – A rather wet morning greeted us when we awoke , first we headed to Bruichladdich to purchase The ” Spirit of Islay II ” Cask , a Bourbon Barrel of Bruichladdich New Make for a set of shareholders made up of SOI forum members . Then it was to the Port Charlotte Hotel for a wee bite to Eat before returning to the Cottage .

In the Evening we headed over to Bruichladdich to meet up with our favourite Laddie (and Islay !) Lassies , Ella and Mary , for a meal at the an taigh-osda @ bruichladdich ( Formerly the Abbotsford Guest House ) . Quite a few people we know on Islay , and a few from off Island , have been raving about the meals at this hotel and now we are going to join the list…..

From the moment you go in you know you are in somewhere a bit special , the Decor has been well thought out and is very modern and minimalistic . On arrival you go into a lovely seating area for a drink and the difficult bit of the night , what to have off the Menu ! After much thought Ella went for the Buttersquash Soup as her starter and the Whole Lemon sole as the main meal , Mary chose the Salmon Routarde and The Gressingham Duck , Mel chose the Langoustine and Crab Spring Rolls followed by the duck as well , i went for the Spring Rolls Followed by the Islay King Scallops . To say the food was a dream was an understatement , for all the great meals we’ve had on this little Isle this was possibly the best , every meal of every course was superbly presented and tasted even better ! Loads of local products beautifully cooked , We even managed to squeeze in a pudding as well ! Pricewise , this is at the top end of the Islay Eateries but as the old adage goes ” you only get what you pay for ” and this is worth every penny especially for a special occassion . We had a great night with the Laddie Lassies , thank you very much Ella and Mary , it was a great way to spend one of the nights of our Holidays !

Wed 13th / Thurs 14th / Fri 15th August – Down to the last 3 days of the Holidays , nothing was planned for these days , Wednesday was spent saying goodbye to our good friends at Laddie , Having lunch at Ardbeg and relaxing at the cottage after an appearance on the weekly chat (which involves a drive over to the other side of the Island…..) , Thursday was Show Day so not a lots open on the Isle , we decided to give it a miss and chill out at the Cottage with a few drinks and a lovely Sirloin Steak from the Butchers at Port Ellen . Friday , the final day on Islay , was spent having lunch at The Old Kiln , a walk to The Singing Sands and packing . We also bumped into the “Lady of The Isles” Christine and had a wee chat , always nice to catch up with Christine , another wonderful Islay Lassie who we’ve known since we first came over to Islay . This is the 10th year (since Summer 1999) that we’ve been coming across to the Queen of the Hebrides and our 21st Visit , this is the most relaxing holiday we’ve ever had here , i’d definitely recommend a 2 week stay in a quiet bay if you really want to chill out big time !

We’ll be back !

The spoils of the HolidayThe Spoils of the Holiday !

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