More Bunnahabhain Diaries….
Once again we’re spending two weeks on our favourite little Hebridean Isle , our 24th Visit to Islay , Chilling out , Malting out and generally having a good time down at Bunnahabhain Bay ! So here are some more of our adventures……..
(Some photos can be viewed at a larger size by clicking on them)
Sat August 1st –
Once again we left our little abode early on Saturday morning to drive up to Kennacraig , Stopping off for breakfast at Dumbarton and hitting Inveraray to pick up some supplies . Unfortunately the supplies weren’t as much as usual at LFW due mainly to them not having the one’s i fancied ! Ended up with just the Bunnahabhain Toiteach…
The weather on the way up has been mixed , Rain , Sun , more Rain . Didn’t improve much once we arrived on Islay either . Spent the rest of the day settling into the cottage , getting some shopping in and having a few drams .
Todays Drammage……G&M 12yo Longmorn , Johnnie Walkers Green Label , Bunnahabhain Toiteach.
Sun August 2nd –
Woke up to beautiful Sunshine and Mull in View ! After a late brunch it was outside to catch some Rays !
Spent the day chilling out at the Cottage and doing a Bunnahabhain Vertical tasting ……
When in Bunnahabhain…..
|Bunnahabhain 12yo ( Mini L7 )
Age – 12yo. ABV – 40%. Colour – Amber. Nose – Fudge , Dried fruits , Candied peel , Seashore (Salt Air /Seaweed ). Palate – Malty , Edinburgh Rock Sweetness. Finish – Medium , sweet , fudginess . Comments – Very oily in the glass , One of the nicest 12yo Bunnies i’ve tried.
|Bunnahabhain 12yo ( Old Sample )
Age – 12yo. ABV – 40%. Colour – Polished Copper . Nose – More sherry on the nose , Cake Dough , slight fudge , Seashore , touch orange ? Palate – Again sherry , cake dough , slight dried fruits , not as sweet as the new one but still has a touch of fudge / Edinburgh Rock . Finish – Long sweet finish. Comments – Again very oily in the glass , slightly prefer the new 12yo from the mini.
Mon August 3rd –
Back to the wind and rain again ! Popped along to the distillery shop this morning to pick up a 16yo Manzanilla finish and have a natter to Lillian . We then headed down to Ardbeg for lunch at the Old Kiln , as usual the food was superb and the place was heaving ! After a bit of a drive about , including a check of the whisky shops ( 2 , now defunct , 10yo Black bottles spotted and bought !) , we headed back to the cottage for a light bite and a relaxing evening .
2 Festival Bottlings and a Non-Attributed Malt…..(Thanks to Martin)
Bruichladdich Oirthir Gaidheal
Year – 1993. Age – 16yo. ABV – 53.6%. Colour – Bright Gold . Nose – First thing that hits the nose is the sherry , the usual cake mix , dried fruits etc , eventually the laddie traits come through , Green Fruits , fudge . Palate – Definitely a Laddie on the palate , Apples , pears , Lemon Citrus and creamy fudge . Finish – Long , citric and sherry. Comments – Dist 22/4/1993 , Bottled 24/5/2009 , Refill Sherry Cask ,312 of 1000 Bottles . Not a bad Laddie , a great little Valinch !
Caol Ila 1996
Year – 1996. Age – 12yo. ABV – 58%. Colour – Golden Syrup . Nose – Really sherried nose , Orange Marmalade , Menthol cigarettes , strong mint . Palate – very dry peat , hospital antiseptic , Mint humbugs , Fishermans friends . Finish – Long , dry , germolene . Comments – Dist 18/12/1996 , Ex-Sherry Cask No. 19313 , Bottle No. 308.A really good Caol Ila , smelled more sherried than it tastes , shame the standard 12yo isn’t this good .
The Wee Dram 10yo Islay
Age – 10yo. ABV – 46%. Colour – Pale Gold . Nose – For it’s light colour, the nose is loaded with sherry , eventually peat comes through , a touch of medicinalness. Palate – The sherry takes the back seat and the medicinalness takes the front . Finish – Long and medicinal . Comments – Refill Sherry ? definitely a Caol Ila going off the type of medicinalness (germolene compare to Laphroaigs Iodine ) .
Tues August 4th –
Woke up to some more not too clever looking weather but we didn’t let that put us off and we headed off for our first walk of the holidays . An Easy one to start off with……
Very nice Steak as well and tasty veggies !
Wed August 5th –
Another lovely day (in the early 20’s with a lovely breeze) . so we headed off for another walk , this time we headed to the top North-West of the isle to walk around Ardnave…..
The view across Loch Gruinart from Ardnave Dunes .
Thurs August 6th –
Another Bright and beautiful Morning and our First organised event of the Holidays , a 10am start at Lagavulin Distillery for Ian “Pinky” MacArthurs Ware house Demonstration .
A few of you maybe familiar with this as it’s the same as what Ians done during Lagavulin Day at the Feis Ile . We were taken into a warehouse where Ian gave us a talk on Maturation and the affects of it on the spirit , we were given samples to try from various ages of Lagavulin , these were drawn from the casks by various members of the group . We started off with a taste of New Make then proceeded to an 8yo from a Hogshead cask , a 12yo (Hogshead) a 16yo (Sherry Butt) and a 43yo . Not content with that they gave us a dram of the Distillers Edition and then let us try the 16yo again !
Full Marks to Diageo for doing this outside the Festival and for keeping it at a reasonable price , £12.50 for all the drams , a Glencairn Glass and you can use the ticket to tour Caol Ila as well has to be the bargain of the year ! Outside we had to negotiate a crane doing maintainance work , they’d lifted a still out to check the state of the walls , not very often you see a still in bits !
We headed along to Ardbeg for lunch at the Old Kiln , where they just happened to have two of my old favourites on , The “fishtastic ” Salad and Raspberry Cranachan , Mel went for a Baked Potato with Prawn Marie Rose . After having a bit of a rest on the Hillock behind the Distillery and the weather clouding over , we headed back for an evening at the Cottage .
Friday August 7th –
||Yet another Glorious day and another walk !
This time we headed off to the South Shore and a walk up to Solam , the 18th Century Plague village situated on the trackway to Uigeadail . Parking up at Ardbeg we headed back up the road and through the farm gate between the houses . The first bit of the walk is fine up the farm tracks but once you hit the Tee just below the ruins of Aigih Nam Beist Farm it gets a little boggie , there is a well worn path you follow but you definitely need Stout footware , how people have done it in ordinary footware i don’t know ! We crossed over Ardbeg burn and headed onwards and upwards ! It is extremely wet underfoot , the black , oily , peaty water does seem to appear from nowhere .
Today we had fantastic views across to Ireland , some of the clearest i can remember , Eventually we reached the location of the village , at a deserted building there is a plaque telling you about it , really you need someone in the know to show you it’s exact location . It is a pretty hard walk , we lost the track a couple of times on the way down but it is worth it for the views from up there . Mel also saw her first snake on the way back down , i’d just strolled past it , Don’t know what it was but need to check up , only clue , it was black !
On our return to Ardbeg we managed to catch service and had a refreshing tea and cakes or a toastie in Mels case…..
That evening it was “Nippy Chippy” night in Port Ellen so we hung around in the Early evening sun to get our fish suppers !
We took the Mulindry Road back to the Cottage where we saw several huge herds of Deer quite close to the road . Don’t think i can remember seeing as many this low down during the summer . We’ve also noticed a hell of a lot of Buzzards around this year , they seem to be everywhere , talking to friends on the isle they were saying the same but said it seems to be having an effect on the small bird population .
Sat August 8th –
The Start of our Second week on Our Favourite Little Hebridean Isle , we awoke to puddles on the ground but luckily it had rained over night . After a late Breakfast we headed off to do a short walk on Loch Indaal beside Whin Park , This was to a Watchtower constructed in the 18th century . A lovely little woodland walk , short by comparision to the others we’d done , but pleasant enough for a Saturday . There were 3 of these watchtowers constructed to watch over Loch Indaal for invasion , this and the one at Bridgend still survive , the one at Bowmore is long gone .
We headed back to the cottage to find we were the only occupants for this week ! Looks like a REALLY quiet week……
At night we headed off to The Bridgend Hotel for what is turning into an Annual Event for us , a Meal out with those lovely Laddie Lassies , Mary and Ella . It’s really nice to spend such a pleasant evening in the company of Good friends while on Holiday . Good food and a damn good natter were on the menu . The food at the Bridgend Hotel is really competing with the other hotels now . Myself and Mel started with a lovely Leek and Potato Soup , then Mel had Cajun Chicken Flatbread and i went for Scallops in an Indian Spice sauce . Ella and Mary started on the Melon and then had the Grilled Salmon . We all had a slice of Lemon Meringue Pie for pudding . It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening that flew over , Thank you Ladies for a great evening and look forward to next years !
Sun August 9th –
We had a bit of a lazy day today , just stayed down at the Cottage , the weather was cloudy with a light wind .
Anyone for Ardbeg ?
Expression– Montgomories Single Cask Year – 1991. Age – 10yo. ABV – 43%. Colour – Pale Gold Nose – Sweet peat , slight creamy fudge , Cocoa . Palate – smooth peat , fudge , creamy coffee. Finish -Long and warming , peaty Comments – Thanks to Tim Bachelder for the Sample . Cask 1017 , Dist 28/3/1991 , Bott 10/01 . Not a bad little Beg especially for a 43%er .
Expression – SMWS 33.49 Year – 1993. Age – 8yo. ABV – 59.8%. Colour – Pale Gold Nose – Nose hair tingling , Very citric (lemon) , peat . Palate – Very strong , sweet peat , again lemon citrus , creamy fudge . Finish -Long peaty and Cigar Smoke ! Comments – Distilled October 1993 , Bottled Sept 2002 , first SMWS Ardbeg i ever bought , a nice strong young Ardbeg .
Expression – SMWS 33.71 Year – 1998. Age – 10yo. ABV – 55.8%. Colour – Ripe Barley Nose – Very citric at first (Lemon) , then creamy fudge , Coffee , Dark Chocolate . Palate – Wow ! Incredibly Peaty , Creamy fudge , Coffee Finish -Long , Citric , peat , cream…..fully loaded ! Comments – Thanks to Ryan for the sample . Distilled May 1998 , Bottled August 2008 . Really good Ardbeg , almost Renaissance like !
Expression – OMC Year – 1990. Age – 10yo. ABV – 50%. Colour – Straw Nose – Lemon Citrus at first , gradually the peat , creamy fudge and Coffee come through . Palate – well balanced peat , lemon and smoke . Finish -nice , longish finish . slight Citrus along with peat . Comments – Dist Sept 1990 , Bott March 2001 , 1 of 312 bottles . Very nice 1990 Ardbeg though i must admit i like my 1990 older…..
Expression – Uigeadail (2003 Bottling) Year – * Age – * ABV – 54.2%. Colour – Orangey gold/Marmalade Nose – Traditional Christmas cake (dough , Dried Fruits spices , sherry ) , Mint humbugs , peat smoke . Palate – Huge mouthfeel , Mentholy , peat , smoke , pepperminty , all over the palate ! Finish -Long , menthol, humbugs . Comments – The original and still the best Uigeadail IMO , incredible mouthfeel .
Expression – Toasted Oak 1189 Year – 1998. Age – 10yo. ABV – 54%. Colour – Deep Amber Nose – Very heady nose , Christmas spices , vanilla , creamy fudge , peat smoke. Palate – Very complex palate , hot, peppery and spicy . Vanilla , oily , smoke . Finish -Long , spicy , creamy coffee , Bonfire smoke , Amazing stuff ! Comments – Distilled 11th May 1998 , Bottled 10th December 2008 , from a New Toasted Oak Hogshead Cask , Bottle No. 125 of 252 . A very good Ardbeg , very unusual .
Expression – Toasted Oak 1190 Year – 1998. Age – 10yo. ABV – 54.7%. Colour – Burnt Marmalade Nose – Different to 1189 , honey , vanilla , green fruits , slight dried fruits and spices . Palate – Chewy on the palate , Creamy coffee , Menthol Cigarettes Finish -Long and spicy , creamy toffee . Comments – Distilled 11th May 1998 , Bottled 10th December 2008 , From a New Toasted Oak Hogshead Cask , Bottle No. 127 of 282 . Another really nice Ardbeg , again unusual .
Mon August 10th –
Woke up to a Misty morning with a fair wind , decided just to have a drive about rather than a walk but by the time we got to the south shore it was lovely and Sunny ! Hit the Old Kiln for Lunch where it seems they were having a bit of an Italian Day , so i had Macaroni Cheese with Garlic bread and Mel went for the Lasagne and Garlic bread . As usual the food was to a very high standard , afterwards we had a drive along to Kildalton , on our return we had a bit of a sun break at Port Ellen (nice to sit on the main bay for a while….) and then a stop on the shores of Loch Indaal before heading back to the Cottage for a few drams of the local Whisky……
Tonight was as damn near as good as gets , Only us in residence at The Cottages , Clear blue sunny sky , A beautiful View across the bay to Mull , Enough wind to keep the Midges away , A damn good Thai Red Curry cooked by your partner and a selection of Islays finest Single Malt ! Oh It’s a beautiful night on Islay !!!!!
Woke up this morning to pouring rain and low clouds but this didn’t deter us and we went off for a short walk up to Ardbegs lower water Source at Loch Iarnan . The first bit of the walk was the same route as the walk up to Solam . Instead of turning left at Airigh Nam Beist we turned right . It’s all Farm tracks up to the loch but it was very muddy at some points . By the time we returned to Ardbeg , including a close encounter with a huge bull , we were absolutely soaking wet ! A swift return to the cottage was called for and a lovely hot bath !
That evening we got a visit from Claus (Bigmac from the chat) and his girlfriend Ulla (Highland Girl from the chat) , always nice to meet some of the chatters face to face . We arranged to meet at Ardbeg for lunch the next day .
Wed August 12th –
A bit better Weather wise this morning , headed down to Ardbeg for lunch to meet up with Claus and Ulla , food was superb as usual . After a bit of a natter and a wander around the distillery we parted company , they invited us up to their B&B that evening to take part in the weekly chat . I took up a few drams for them to try .
Also nipped into Bunnie Distillery to have a dram with John and a natter .
Thurs August 13th –
Islay Show day , a cloudy bright day and we headed out for a walk above Bunnahabhain . Leaving the Distillery by the road we turned off onto a track at the bend at the top of the bank just past the bungalow . this takes you across a small peat bog before reaching a small wooded area with a bridge across a stream (Abhainn Araig ) . The track then meanders across another peat bog before reaching the forest . The boggy area seemed to have quite a bit of Lemon Balm and Rhodendrum bushes , you also get a good view of the Bay and paps from up here . This is a fairly large man made wooded area , there are a few other natural trees and bushes in it apart from the pines .
There are a few ruined farm houses amongst the forest , it’s a fairly long walk through to the other end of the forest at Balulive but it’s all decent walking on man made tracks . We didn’t see much wildlife along the way apart from lots of flys , loads of Dragonflys (huge Blue ones as well as the red one photographed) , a frog and a few birds including one that insisted on posing for Mel ! After a bit of a rest at the gate at the other end we retraced out way back to Bunnahabhain Distillery . When we measured the length of the walk on the map , it turned out to be our longest of the holiday at just over 9 miles !
The inspiration for our walks have come from two sources . A book , Walks on the Isle of Islay by Mary Welsh ( Clan walk Guides ISBN 1 873597 13 4 ) and from the 2 Leaflets “Explore Islay” produced by the Islay Community Access Project . We also had 3 Ordnance Survey maps (Landranger 60 – Islay , Explorer 352 – Islay South and Explorer 353 – Islay North ) . Decent walking boots are recommended and decent waterproof clothing including Gaiters .
After a wash and brush up we headed down to Port Ellen for a meal at our friend Ella’s house with a couple of her friends .
Fri August 14th –
The last day of the Hols and it’s pouring with rain ! We headed down to Ardbeg again for lunch at the Old Kiln , a really nice Beef Olives for me and Mels ever faithful Baked Tattie and Prawn Marie Rose . We spent the rest of the Afternoon having a few drams with Mickey . The evening was spent packing our stuff away and having a last drink at the Cottage .
Sat August 15th –
Time to go home ! We spent the crossing to the mainland with Claus and Ulla before heading back to Newcastle……