So once again we head over to Islay , this time with a purpose……. To bottle the Geordie Laddies Ex-Bourbon Barrel of 10yo Port Charlotte Residing at Bruichladdich Distillery ! Also we have the company of nearly all the members of the cask Syndicate , 6 to be exact , none of whom have been to Islay before !
Thursday 23rd February
We set off a little bit earlier this trip due to Rest and be thankful being closed ( there had been a lot of rain and one of the alarms had went off ) , so it was the Tarbet – Crianlarich diversion. We had a bit of rain and wind on the way up but managed to get up safely stopping off at Balloch for breakfast. And Tarbert for morning coffee before arriving at Kennacraig.
The ferry was very quiet , and we had a smooth crossing with just a touch of swell . Once on Islay ,we made our way to our place of stay .Distillery House , Bowmore (one of Bowmore Distilleries Cottages) . a nice rental , well equipped and a bottle of Bowmore 12 waiting on the table upon you arrival .After a freshen up , a dram and a consultation with a few of our friends on the isle , we decided to give The Lochside a try for somewhere to eat and a good choice it tuned out to be , greatly improved since our last visit last September . The food was spot on and much appreciated by the group ! After a few drinks everyone retired to the cottage to get some sleep before the main event of this trip…..
Friday 24th February
(Click on photos to see full size version)
So the day of the bottling finally arrived , it’s a day i’ve been waiting for for over 6 years following the disappointment of not getting to Islay to see my Bloodtub being bottled due to the weather knocking off the ferries .So it was an early start to the day to be at Laddie by 9am . The best laid plans don’t always work out , a few hiccups ensued but slightly later than expected we actually got to see the cask being bottled !
The first sighting of the whisky was in a little glass container to the top left of the bottling machine and i was taken aback by how much darker it was than the last sample over a year and a half ago .
Filling the first bottles
And there's more.....
Four bottles were filled at a time and the Guys doing the filling even allowed us to have a go…...
Eddie gets his chance
My Turn !
We got our first try of the whisky at this point from a plastic jug ! Needless to say it went down very well !!!! We were also given a try of the Islay gin which was being bottled on the main line while ours was getting done .
The Caps being applied
The Numbers start growing
After getting over the shock at the strength it was still at after 10 years our next thoughts were how many bottles ? The boys thought it was going to be about 220 given the volume loaded into the filling container , we were hoping for more and we got it ! 243 bottles !
Wor Stash !!!
At this point there was a lull in proceedings to work out the costs, apply the tax sticker and box up (there wasn’t time to label so we said we’d pick the labels up the next day and put them on ourselves ) so we went off on a tour of the distillery with Mary . As usual it was a great tour with Mary , full of her wit and wisdom .
Mary introduces the gang to Ugly Betty
In The Still Room
So after the tour we headed back to the shop for a try of the Current valinch , an aced Port Charlotte just over 9 years old . By this time the boxed bottles were ready for loading into the transport and we bid our farewells to the Staff at Laddie . Many thanks to Jonathan and the 2 lads in the bottling hall for a superb morning .
After dropping the 41 cases off at the cottage we headed off to Ardbeg for a spot of lunch . We got the usual warm welcome in the Old Kiln and settled down for a bite to eat and very nice it was ! Most of the boys went for the Baked Tattie with Haggis , Mel went for the Tattie with Prawn Marie Rose and i went for The Pasta Bolognese . After being fed and watered we went off with Emma for a tour of the distillery . Emmas tour flew over , i know some of the lads really appreciated her going into the history of the place and her telling us anyone could ask a question except me as mine were usually too technical !
After the tour we retired to the Chairmans Study to partake in some of the wares and were joined by Mickey armed with a few extra drams , very nice they were too ! It was nice that the lads got to have a chat to a manager on their first visit to Islay , always a special moment (well in my eyes anyway !) .
After bidding goodbye , we headed back to the cottage to freshen up before hitting Bowmore for an Indian and a couple of drinks . Later on i got to catch up with Phil Gray in Duffies Bar , nice to finally meet someone in the flesh who i’d only spoke to on line !
Saturday 25th February
Another bit of an early start to the day as Mel and Myself headed for a flying visit to The Rhinns , first stop Port Charlotte to pay Sarah Roy for our Easter Rental and then Bruichladdich Distillery to pick up the labels .
The Finished Article !
After returning the Boys headed off to Bowmore Distillery for a tour while Mel relaxed . The tour was very good , giving the lads a chance to see a working Floor Maltings and the guide was very good (sorry can’t remember her name !) . We were given the darkest as the end of dram tour .
In the afternoon the lads headed off for a tour of the Isle while Mel and myself first of all dropped into the Lochside for a light lunch ( very , very good , Mel had Prawn Marie Rose Baked Tattie and i went for the Leek and Potato Soup . Well recommended) then headed off for a drive . First stop was Bunnahabhain , it was great to be back at one of our favourite spots but so depressing to see the Cottage falling apart , literally ! C’mon Burns Stewart do something about this !!!!
We then headed over the Mulindry Road where we encountered some of the local wildlife and some more geese !
We love going over that road , it never fails to produce the goods animal wise and Mel got to make a new friend…….
For the Evening we headed down to Port Ellen to meet up with Ella at Islays Newest Hotel . This was our first visit to The Islay Hotel as it opened just slightly after our last visit . A few of us got a bit of a shock at the Bar prices , £6.95 for a bottle of Colonsay Lager !
It was a busy night in the Restaurant , someone was celebrating their 70th Birthday , but we eventually got sat down for what turned out to be an excellent meal . The starter tried included Haggis parcels , Duck Pate ( Mel Choice ) and Scallops (my choice) . Main meals sampled included Fish and Chips , The Chicken Breast , The Steak and The Islay Fish Selection – i had this and if you love fish you can’t go wrong with this ! Meals at the Islay Hotel aren’t cheap , Mid to High range for Islay but the quality is reflected in this price and i can say we’ll be back there again pretty soon ! A grand night was had by all and it was nice for the Geordie Laddies to meet the person who handled the sale of our cask by the distillery ! It’s always a pleasure to spend a night out with Ella !!!
The Islay Hotel is very nice inside and done out to a very high standard and as stated the food is excellent .
We bid our farewells and headed back to Bowmore to get our heads down for the final time this trip .
Sunday 26th February
Always the saddest day the day of departure , we headed off to Port Askaig to pick up the morning ferry . Once on board we had a Calmac Breakfast and sat back and enjoyed a calm crossing over to the mainland . Till the next time on Islay……
The Geordie Laddies Photo Galleries
Here are some photo Galleries from other members of the Syndicate…….