3 Tasty Samples

It’s not often i buy samples but i wanted to try a few so i purchased 3 off the Master of Malt site….. 

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Douglas Laing Director’s Cut 1989 25yo Longmorn

Longmorn is my favourite Speysider , i’ve been keeping an eye out for a 25yo to add to my bundle of 25yo’s  i’m collecting for our 25th Wedding Anniversary in 2019 . From a refill Bourbon Hogshead distilled in April 1989 and Bottled in June 2014 at 54.2% , it is a pale straw colour in the glass . The nose is extremely fruity and fresh , almost the old Opal Fruits , very buttery and vanilla , quite spicy as well . A wonderful Nose ! The palate is peppery , also lots of oak spices , still lots of fruit but the spices dominate . The finish is quite long with a lovely pepperiness to it .

A Lovely Longmorn , good balance to it and a worthy addition to the “Silver 25” list !

Glenfarclas 25yo

I’ve always had a soft spot for Glenfarclas , it was the First Distlllery Melanie and myself ever did a tour in back in the 90’s , we’ve shared some great old Farclases from the SMWS so a 25yo wouldn’t go amiss on the “Silver 25” list . A very soft sherriness to the nose , the traditional Christmas Cake – cake dough , dried fruits , glace cherries – and a hint of Coffee . The Palate pretty much carries on from the nose with the addition of chocolate and Cola cube sweets , A very sweet medium finish to it .

A Lovely Glenfarclas , definitely a future one for the list…..

Caol Ila 1998 15yo Unpeated – 2014 Special Release

Coming in at a whopping 60.4% , i’ve been want to try this one for a while , i’ve had the 10yo , 12yo and Stitchells Reserve .

Pale Straw in colour , the initial nose is fresh green apples , VERY fresh green apples ! Touch of lemon and Malt . Wow ! This is an incredibly fruity little number after the Apple it bursts into a bulging bowl of fruit , Wonderful ! The fruit continues on the palate , excellent , highly drinkable at the full strength of 60.4% . Really Spicy as well , becomes very Apple Pie and Custard after a while , the spiciness continues into the finish . With a touch of water it certainly calms it down a touch but seems to take a bit of it’s bite away .

An excellent dram , the unpeated spirit seem to get better with age .

A purchase since……

Longmorn25

The “Silver 25” List Currently stands at 9 Bottles……

25s

  • Ardbeg Lord of the Isles
  • SMWS 1978 25yo Brora 61.20 (labelled 61.2)
  • Bunnahabhain 25yo O.b.
  • SMWS 1980 25yo Caol Ila 53.98
  • Bladnoch Forum 1984 25yo Caol Ila
  • Laphroaig 25yo O.b. 2013 Bottling
  • DL Directors Cut 1989 25yo Longmorn
  • Bladnoch Forum 25yo Port Ellen
  • The Wine Society 25yo Islay Single Malt
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Islay Visits Part XXXVII – The Final Part !

Friday 1st August 2014 

Our final full day on Islay , Boo ! We decided on lunch at Ardbeg so after a bit of a lie in headed off to the Old Kiln , on the way we spotted a rather fine cruise ship moored in Kilnaughton Bay…….

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There was a bit of practicing going on for the Islay Rowing Regatta . Once in we ordered the Fillets of Seabass in a white wine creamy sauce  . After picking up a bottle of Auriverdes and having a chat to Janey we had a stop off at Laphroaig to look at the shop , Melanie bought me a rather nice Polo Shirt and i bought a bottle of the 25yo !

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This will be put aside next to the Bunnahabhain 25yo and Ardbeg Lord of the Isles for 5 years time when we will celebrate our Silver Wedding on Islay . There was just time to pop into The Celtic House Coffee Shop for one last Coffee and Cakes , i must say this has been a great addition to Bowmore , the Coffee is great and the homemade cakes are Sooooo good ! Don’t know what the hell we are going to do next week when it gets to 3pm…… apart from suffer withdrawal symptoms !!!! It was back to the cottage for one last night and doing the worst bit of the holiday , packing up ! The days good weather actually gave us the best Sunset of the holiday…… and loads of Midges!  

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Saturday 2nd August 2014

 Due to being slightly slow and booking the ferry later than normal we couldn’t get our normal 9.45am one so it was the 3.30pm , giving us another chance to eat at Ardbeg . We stopped at the recently re-opened now community owned petrol station in Port Ellen to do our bit to help and got a bit of a surprise when out bounded Jackie to fill our car up ! She was doing her bit for it and in the process had a good view of the Port Ellen Rowing Regatta going on in front of her . It was a shame it started to rain as Islay was been very sporty and as well as the regatta it was also the Islay Ardbeg half Marathon .

So after a full lunch at Beg ( Seafood chowder ,  Supreme of Chicken Lydia with Vegs) , a stop off to see Mark and Helga at Islay studios , we finally departed Islay from Port Askaig on the Afternoon ferry .

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The Spoils….. Purchases , Gifts (Thank You !) and Samples !

Another little adventure over , we will return ! Hogmanay 2014/15    

Islay Visits goes West……. Even More Further West Than Usual !

Since last September we’ve been hiding a big secret !

Let me explain….. As everyone knows we spend every possible holiday on Islay , usually a weeks break in the Spring around about May time , our two week Summer vacation and sometimes a long weekend in the autumn/winter .Our friends who know this have been puzzled by the fact when we’ve been asked when we’re back we’ve been saying not until summer (a long time no visit for us !) and when they’ve wondered why we haven’t been able to tell them causing more bewilderment ! And what perplexed them even more was when i said i’d applied for my first passport , 2 and 2 were put together and 5 was arrived at . So lets go back to September…….

We were about to book our two stays , the Spring one at the start of May and the Summer one slightly earlier than normal in the middle of July , We couldn’t get our normal summer place – Maol Buidhe – as the owners take it then so we went for a new place Lyrabus Croft Cottage just outside of Bridgend . We were about to Book a place in Port Ellen for the spring trip when an interesting e-mail arrived in my inbox from a distant land .

It was from the organiser of a Whisky Festival , She’d really enjoyed reading about our adventures on Islay over the years , 2014 was the 10th Anniversary of their Whisky Festival and they were planning on having an Islay theme , She was wondering if Melanie and myself would be interested in being Special Guests at the event and host an Islay Whisky Lounge ?

Now to say we were slightly shocked was an understatement , this type of thing never happens to us , people offering to fly us half way round the world and have us as Special Guests . We’re not Whisky Icons like a few i could name !

So after letting it sink in for a while , we replied to Johanna taking up her terrific offer of being guests at The 10th Anniversary of the Spirit of Toronto Whisky Gala in Canada !

So a few firsts in May for me , First trip out of mainland UK , First Flight , First time using a Passport , First time being a Special Guest at a Whisky Festival ! Good job i’ve got Melanie to keep me right !!!!  

So the next “Islay Visit” will be from Toronto , i’m still classing it as an Islay Visit as it’s about Islay and it’s Whisky ! We’ll be taking some Classic Islay Whisky along with us to sample In the Islay Whisky Lounge as we talk about all things Islay and tell the good people about the wonderful piece of Heaven we love off the West Coast of Scotland ! 

We’ve also found out since that a good friend of ours will be there exhibiting , so it’ll be good to see Ashok there !  

A Link to the Spirit of Toronto Whisky Gala Site

That was the Year that was……. A Review !

So once again another year draws to a close , Just where do they go to ?

It’s been a traumatic last half of the year for me personally after loosing my job when the company i’d worked for for over 35 years shut down but i did manage to get another one straight away ! So lets look at things that have happened Islay and Whisky Wise !

Islay Visits

We’ve had 3 great visits this year….. so far ! Back in February / March we had our flying / quiet visit to Bowmore staying in the excellent Distillery Cottages . The weather was perfect , as was the company !

The Japanese Garden

The View down the garden (our cottage is the one with the patio doors)

We returned in early May for our spring visit and stayed in Port Ellen this time in a lovely little cottage on Frederick Crescent .

Port Ellen StitchAs well as a great encounter with an Otter we managed to fit in another tour with Iain at Lagavulin amongst other things !

For the Summer trip we once again returned to Maol Buidhe where we managed to do most of the usual things…… Relaxing , Walking , Eating and Drinking ! A good time was had by all on every trip !

Islay Distillery Bottling of the Year

So down to the nitty gritty , i haven’t tried as many as i’d hoped but the one’s i have i have to say have been excellent . This years runner up is a worthy winner any other time , the Laphroaig 10yo Cask Strength Batch 005 , these batches just keep getting better and better IMHO . The winner is a special which came out in September and is an absolute stunner of a bottling , even though i don’t think it’s a perfect example of what a Lagavulin should be but it is perfect in pretty much every way and it’s dangerously drinkable ! So my Distillery bottling of the year is the Lagavulin Jazz Festival Bottling !

Non-Islay Distillery Bottling of the Year

I think the one that has stood out this year (even though it isn’t in the shops yet !) Is the Amrut Peated Port Single Cask ! Superb stuff !!!! This distillery has kept up it’s very high standard of bottlings , this is , from memory , the peatiest Amrut i can remember .

Islay Independent Bottling of the Year

This one goes to an independent bottler who has produced some very good bottlings , this one was a 20 year old from my Favourite Islay distillery , Ardbeg ! Whiskybroker has released two Begs this year , the last been a 21yo but the 20yo edges it m a bit more oompth than it’s elder brother . And it was very reasonably priced as well !

Non-Islay Independent Bottling of the Year

This one goes to another Whiskybroker bottling , i first tased this at the Newcastle Whisky Lounge Fest and knew straight away i had to get a bottle . The 29yo Tormore had something different about it , nice and refreshing ! Just can’t figure out why it didn’t fly off the shelf !

Best Meal on Islay

This goes to the Islay Hotel for the one we had there in August , they had been a bit up and down with their quality since we’ve been eating there  but this one was superb ! Just please keep it up !!!!

Tasting / Tour of the Year

A close run thing this year between two tours we took at Ardbeg this summer , The deconstruction one was great , if you don’t know how Begs standard bottlings are made up this is the one for you but the Decades tour did it for me ! The surprised was the absolutely stunning 1989 that was on it , it even beat the 1974 in my eyes !

On the whole it hasn’t been too bad of a year , the alarming rise in the cost of some bottlings has been very disturbing , it’ll not be long before us drinkers won’t be able to afford the stuff ! That’s if we can get our hands on it…… it seems to be flying straight off the shelf and on to a rapidly rising number of Online Auctions that seem to be appearing everyday . Not good for us drinkers at all !!!! That is until the bubble bursts….. and it will…….

So what does 2014 hold ? We’ll have to wait and see , watch this space !

Islay Summer Visit 2013

Saturday 10th August
So once again we head off to Islay for our summer fortnight . Setting off at the crack of dawn the journey up was in decent weather , it was even sunny at Inverary ! After the now traditional Coffee and cake break at Tarbert , we set off for Kennacraig catching our first glimpse of wildlife on the outskirts of Tarbert……
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The Journey over on Finlaggan wasn’t the smoothest for a summer trip , odd bit of sway and a bit of wind but the Malt of the Month was Bunnahabhain ! After a stopover at Bowmore to pick a few supplies we headed off for Maol Buidhe . After unpacking and having a bite to eat we went out for an evening walk along the Kildalton Road stopping just before the dip down to Dower House . We did manage to get caught in a shower before arriving back at the Cottage . Once we’d dried off we settled down for a drink , The Maol Buidhe bar for our visit was opened…….

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Tonights pleasures were A 1973 O.b. Ardbeg , A Laddie 1972 Valinch and a Whiskybroker 29yo Tormore (tasting notes to follow at some point) .

Sunday 11th August

The first full day on Islay , bit of a lie in after yesterdays early rise then off to Ardbeg for Sunday lunch . We both went for the same food , Ardbeg Crab chowder for starters and Pan-fried Duck Breast for mains , both were superb (as usual) , after a natter to Jackie it was off for another walk along the Kildalton Road , this time along to the bay just past Dower House .

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On the way back we had an interesting experience , after just missing what appeared to be an Eagle (it screeched like an Eagle) we were heading back approaching Seal Bay when an otter bounced across the road , we were gobsmacked ! We weren’t near any visible water and it happened so fast i couldn’t get my camera off my shoulder , there was a guy parked in a car and he didn’t seem to see it .

An enjoyable afternoon walk carried on with a good evening dramming with my 3 own bottlings , the two PC casks and the Bladtub , and an appearance on the front lawn by a herd of 5 deers , gotta love Islay for wildlife !

Monday 12th August

A bit of a mixed day weather wise and a bit of an easy day for us , a drive over the other side of the Island to catch up with Paul and Joan at An Taigh Osda and pick up a cask sample at Bruichladdich . Then it was off to Bowmore to get some supplies and a coffee and cake at the Coffee Shop in Roys Celtic Shop . Then it was back off to the cottage calling in at Laphroaig to pick up some Cheese for nibbles , bumped into Christine (Logan) who was dropping off a Japanese couple , always nice to see Christine and catch up . Was good to see James (Deane) as well who’d just returned from a tour up to the Laphroaig water source .

(Click on Images to see full size )

Port Ellen Port Ellen

After tea i left Melanie in the cottage and took a walk along to Seal Bay , it turned into a beautiful evening on this side of the isle .

Seal Bay Panorama

Ardbeg Pagodas in the evening Sunshine

Laphroaig 10yo Cask Strength Batch 005

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57.2% Bottled Feb 13 , initially very smoky on the nose then sea shore – sea weed , sea air – , nettles and a touch of farmyard , quite relaxed as well . It definitely isn’t relaxed on the palate , wow , intense medicinalness , peat smoke and nettles . The finish is long, peaty and iodiney . Another cracking batch of 10yo Cask Strength , like i said the nose is quite relaxed but the palate more than makes up for it !

Tuesday 13th August

Not a bad morning when we got up so we packed a picnic and headed off to the west side of the Island and Saligo Bay . Was busier than we expected but had a nice little walk

Saligo Bay Panorama

Melanie at Saligo Bay

On the way back we stopped off at The Bridgend Hotel for a coffee , they’ve done a real nice job of the recent refurbishments , looking forward to having a meal there on saturday night . Then it was back to the cottage for a few drams in the beautiful late afternoon/early evening sunshine…….

Bruichladdich 2008 SOI II Sample

Still quite pale for a 5yo from a fresh bourbon cask , The nose is still a little bit spirity at first but then malt , lemon and green fruits (gooseberries and apples) appear . The palate shows more of the youth , very spirity but after a while the laddie traits are slightly noticeable (fruits , malt, hint of caramel toffee) .

With water the palate cools a bit but still quite youthful .

Half Term Report – Progressing nicely !

Bruichladdich Valinch 1972

laddie_72Val

From cask #9 , bottled 8th May 2002 at 48.8% .

The Colour of Orange Marmalade , The first actual thing that grabs you on the nose is Orange ! Then Vanilla and oak spices , the palate is slightly overwhelming with the vanilla and oak spices but after a short while you get a slight hint of some laddie notes but not many .

Nowhere near as good as the 1970 valinch i opened on my 50th birthday but it will be interesting to see if it opens up a lot more when it’s had a bit exposure to air .

SMOS 1979 28yo Bunnahabhain

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Distilled 31st October 1979 , Bottled 22nd April 2008 from cask # 18831 at 46%

The colour of ripe straw , straight away you get the Bunnahabhain Sweetness ( Edinburgh Rock / Confectioners Sugar) on the nose , then a slight maltiness , an absolutely beautiful nose . This dram glides across the palate , again the Bunnahabhain sweetness is out in force , it is just such an easy dramming and relaxed malt . It actually brings back so many memories of the Feis ile Warehouse tours with John the former manager . The Finish is so long and smooth .

A superb dram , probably my favourite bunnahabhain , ideal for sitting out in the Maol Buidhe Garden on a sunny summers evening !

Ardbeg Single Cask #1143

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Distilled 16th March 1973 , Bottled 22nd December 2004 at 49.3%

Bright Gold in colour , straight away you know what you’ve got here from the nose , an early 70’s Beg loaded with the Ardbeg-dine ! It catches the nasal hairs , then you get Creamy Coffee , orange and peat smoke…… Ardbeg Heaven !!!

The palate pretty much carries on the fine tradition , the Ardbeg-dine is so distinctive , silky smooth over the tongue , seducing it into submission , Wonderful ! The finish is long , smoky-iodine and as smooth as a babies bum !

There are Ardbeg casks and there is cask # 1143 !!!!!! You just have to drink Ardbegs like this……..

So after our drams we headed off for a walk in the sunshine along to Seal Bay…….

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and then along to Ardbeg to admire the evening views from the pier before returning to the cottage .

Wednesday 14th August

A pretty lazy day today (we’re on holiday we can !) , headed off to Ardbeg for lunch , once again the crab chowder was on (Nom – Nom !) so we both went for it ! Then Melanie went for the baked Tattie Prawn Marie Rose and i went for the Pan Fried Halibut . Tried the Islay Ales Single Malt Ale which i have to say was very good . After a natter to Mickey , we booked up a couple of tours to do during the holidays . Then it was a relaxing afternoon at the cottage before heading off for a drive along the coast .

Thursday 15th August

Probably the worst morning of the week , chucking it down , so it was lucky that we’d decided to go to Ardbeg this afternoon and i was going on the “Decades” tour . After a lunch of Cajun chicken with fluffy rice and Strawberries and cream , Melanie headed back to the cottage and Dougie took us off on the Decades tour . The first dram was at the start of the Distillery tour while Dougie told us the history of Ardbeg .

Decades-1

I’ve had this one a couple of times before , it’s a very good 1974 but lacks the oomph of the Provenance . We then proceeded through the distillery going through the production procedure .
We then went in to the chairmans study for an informal tasting of four other Cask samples

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First up was a 1975 38yo , where do they keep finding these casks from ? Not a bad little Ardbeg from a Refill sherry cask but has probably seen better days (not in a bad sort of way , just an observation) , they have a few 75’s apparently , if they ever do release them i’ll put good money on it i can’t afford a bottle…….

Warewolf , Minotaur , Fairies at the bottom of the garden……

In the normal world there are lots of Myths and legends , in the Ardbeg world a 1989 Distillation was the big one , bottles had been doubted , no one confirmed that such a thing had happened . Today in my eyes it became the truth , a 1989 Cask Sample ! Taken from one of several casks ( NOW where did they find these casks ?) from a run of about 600 in late 1989 (Oct – Nov) this 24yo was stunning ! Everything you could ask for from an Ardbeg , Flows across the palate wonderfully and smells like a dream , this was definitely my holiday treat !

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Number three was a 1994 and another rumour was finally confirmed , apparently in 1994/5 the purifier wasn’t working properly , it had a split – Now it wasn’t said if it was turned off completely but the stories were always that it was during the allied ownership – this was a lot heavier spirit than the others and a lovely dram . The last Sample was a 2003 , this one was to show what the TEN is like at cask strength and from a single cask . Yet another cracking dram !

I thoroughly enjoyed this tour , Dougie was an excellent , knowledgeable host , The drams on this tour were superb and well worth the cost above a normal tour (£35 for this one) especially if you want to taste the Mythical 1989 !

So after returning to the Cottage and having a bite to eat , we headed off for an evening walk along to Seal Bay , by now the rain had passed (for the time being) and the sun had come out . On the way back we got a couple of surprises , first up my mobile decided to spring into life about 100 metres from the cottages (there is no signal at the cottage but a slight one jus about 100 metres towards Ardbeg) and then a Young Stag appeared in the bushes just behind the cottages ……..

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hello deer

Friday 16th August

Another Dreary Morning so we went off for a drive up to Bunnahahbain , we went over the Mulindry Road , a beautiful wild scenic route . When we got to Bunnahabhain there was a mountain of casks at the entrance , probably the most i’ve seen piled high outside of a cooperage ! Andrew was manning the shop as everyone was out on tours and Lillian was away on holidays . Soon got to the bottom of the cask mountain (not literally) , they’ve just spent a wee bit of time reracking some of their casks , 600 Bourbon and 200 sherry ! No news on what’s happening with the new owners but they have had several visits . After making a few purchases and enjoying a dram we bid our farewells and headed back to “Other Places” .
As usual on islay the weather completely changed and we were now in bright sunshine ! We stopped off at Bridgend to have Coffee and Scones at the Hotel . To think up until recently there was a slight lack of Coffee machines on the Isle and you struggled to get a cappuccino now they are all over the place ! When we left Bridgend we got a beautiful view over Loch indaal…..

Loch indaal Stitch

After a drive back to the cottage we headed back to Port Ellen to enjoy one our favourite holiday treats , a fish supper from the Nippy Chippy ! Always a joy , we went along to the tables just beside the Port ellen warehouses to enjoy ours in the late afternoon sunshine watching the Finlaggan set sail back to the mainland , a perfect way to end the day !
Revisiting 1976 Ardbeg Single casks……

Cask 2398 27yo 24-11-76 / 05-05-04 51.4% …… A bright amber in colour , unmistakeably an Oloroso cask , beautifully balanced on the nose between the sherry and the Ardbeg spirit . Glace Cherries , coffee , Dark chocolate and a waft of peat smoke on the nose . The palate is silky smooth and pretty much the same as the nose but with a delightful peatiness . The Finish is long , smooth dry sherry and Cherry Liqueur….. WOW !!!
Cask 2390 25yo 24-11-76 / 27-04-02 53.1%……. Bright amber in colour again , Cheery liqueur on the nose with Ardbeg-dine , Cola cube sweets , peat smoke , coffee and cream . Again the palate is silky smooth , really nice dark chocolate and cherry liqueur leading to a long , sweet , iodiney , sherried finish . Another stunnins single cask Ardbeg …… Enough said !

Saturday 17th August

The really good thing about the summer visit is that when you hit the middle Saturday you know you’ve still got another week to go ! So we headed into our second week , starting off with a trip to Bowmore to get some supplies in ! After a visit to the Co-op and the butchers a refreshment break was needed so we went to Roys for a coffee and cake ! Todays treat was dinner in Katies Bar at the Bridgend Hotel , We both went for the same things , A Crab Salad with a chilli and Lime dressing with Pancetta and dried chillies for starters and a Lamb Burger with Mozzarella and salad and chips . Absolutely Delicious !!! After a few coffees and drinks and a natter to Lorna we headed off stopping in Bowmore to catch up with Phil (Gray) at The Lochside , always good to see Phil at work behind the bar , always good patter and i always try and catch him out with a couple of drams , did this time with the Amrut Greedy Angels and the Beg 1973 , he was very impressed with the Amrut and stunned by the Beg . Then it was back off to Maol Buidhe for bed……

Sunday 18th August

Another lazy sunday at Maol Buidhe , Melanie sat out in the Garden , i went for a walk down the road to try out the video part of the 7D , eventually i cooked us two of the hugest , tenderest , sirloin steaks i’ve ever seen from the Butchers in Bowmore , melt in the mouth stuff ! We need our evening walk down to Seal Bay to help start digesting these beauts !

Monday 19th August

The second Week commences….. We had the Deconstruction tour booked at Ardbeg this afternoon so we had lunch before , Melanie went for the Crab and Salmon Chowder to start with followed by the Roast Beef Dinner , i went for the Smoked Salmon and Halibut Fish cakes followed by the Beef . We went off for a walk to the pier before the tasting……

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Melanie on the Pier Melanie at Ardbeg

Then at 2pm it was off on the tour , Heather was our guide today (this was only the 2nd time she’d done this particular tour but you couldn’t tell) . It was a tour of the distillery before we headed off to the Warehouse to try 4 cask samples that were used to make up the 3 standard bottlings – The Ten , Uigeadail and Corryvreckan…..

Ardbeg Deconstruction tour

First up was a 2003 Refill Bourbon Cask 2337 at 56.5% , not a bad start , a bit strong for some on the tour . Next was 2003 Fresh Bourbon Cask 2783 at 58.1% , A lovely sweet Ardbeg , i do like fresh bourbon casks ! Third was Melanies favourite , A sherry cask #2340 from 2007 at 61.4% , at 6yo’s it was dangerously drinkable ! Last was the Virgin French Oak Cask #4586 from 2004 at 57.5% , totally different from the previous 3 casks but still enjoyable . We also got to play a little game , we were given 8 little bottles containing smells that are found in Ardbeg tasting notes , to say we failed miserably is an understatement , we got 1 out of the 8 . We headed back to the Old Kiln for one final dram , the 1974 that i’d had on the previous tour . Heather done a great job on the tour and as i previously said we couldn’t tell it was only the 2nd time she’d done this one !
So which tour is for you ? If you are new to Ardbeg i would say the deconstruction one – you get to understand what makes up the bottlings and the notes you should be looking for , if you are a connoisseur the Decades – you get to try stuff only seen in your dreams !
A quiet night in the cottage finished the day off……

Tuesday 20th August

A bit of a dull day again when we woke up , we drove off to the other side of the Island for a wee walk . Todays destination was the Loch Gruinart Reserve , on the way we got to see our first Buzzard (there seemed to be a slight lack of them on the island )

Buzzard

We’d never actually walked around the reserve , first off we did the Woodland walk then The Moorland section , a very enjoyable way to spend an afternoon…….

Graylags at Loch Gruinart Dragonfly
Painted Lady Butterfly Peacock Butterfly

Young Chaffinch

On the way back we stopped off at The Bridgend Hotel again for Tea , Coffee and cakes , They do a lovely Cappuccino ! By now the rain had returned and we headed back to the Cottage via a drive along to the Cross .

Wednesday 21st August

Not a very nice morning to wake up to , we had intended doing a walk today but by the time we got to our destination it was quite wet so we headed off for a drive , first stop was Caol Ila Distillery to see if they had any of the Feis Ile bottling left , they did so after trying it 2 were duly purchased ! They thought Lagavulin had some left as well……
We then headed off for a drive on the Rhinns Circular route , down through Port Charlotte to Portnahaven then back up the West Coast to Port Charlotte . A lovely little scenic drive when you’ve got nothing to do . Then it was into Bowmore for Coffee and Cakes at Roys , before driving back to the Cottage stopping at Lagavulin to pick up another feis ile bottling .

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Melanie_meal

After freshening up it was off to Port Ellen for our annual Dinner out with Ella and Mary at The Islay Hotel . Things didn’t get off to a good start as my first drink ( an Islay Ales Angus Og) didn’t taste right , it was flat and yeasty out of the bottle , now i’ve drunk quite a bit Angus Og – it is my Favourite from the brewery – and it’s not often i complain but to be made feel the guilty party in this wasn’t too clever . Did you pour it right ? have you had it before ? What happened to customer service and the customer is always right ???? Eventually i got another which was a whole lot better but still feel like i was the bad one in all this !

It’s always really nice to spend an evening in the company of Ella and Mary , the craic was exceptional and the food superb , For starters Mary , Ella and myself went for the Islay Scallops in Garlic Butter and Melanie went for the Ham Hock terrene with Chutney and ciabatta bread. First Scallops of the holiday and they were superb ! For the mains , Ella , Mary and Melanie went for the Corn Fed Chicken with Sauteed Potatoes , asparagus and hollandaise sauce . I went for the Argyll Lamb Cutlets with Ratatouille and Mashed Pots . Not being suitably stuffed we all went for a pudding as well , the girls had Strawberries shortcake with cream and i went for Cranachan . The food in the Islay was excellent tonight but not as good as the company !!!! We bit our Farewells and headed off to the Cottage .

Thursday 22nd August

We awoke to Bright sunshine so we headed off for a walk , our original destination was Loch Uigeadail , the ground was quite soggy underfoot and when we reached Solam the Hills up ahead were covered in low cloud so we decided to halt our walk there . After a picnic we headed back down the hills and returned to the Cottage where i sit writing this in bright sunshine in the garden , totally different to the past few days !

Solams Plaque

Solams Plaque

One of the Remains

One of the Remains

Uigeadails up there.... Somewhere!

Uigeadails up there…. Somewhere!

Across to Loch Iarnan

Across to Loch Iarnan

rouge-5

A wee Butterfly , need to find out what.....

A wee Butterfly , A Small Copper

It was such a nice night that after tea we headed off for a drive in the Car up to Bunnahabhain , It’s still a special place for us , where Melanie decided it would be a good idea to have a fortnights holiday on Islay rather than a week and it’s always sad to see the Cottages in such a sad state of decay But there still is something special about the place !

Some of the previously mentioned casks at Bunnahabhain…….

casks1 casks3
casks4 casks2

On the drive back we made the mistake of going through Bowmore , a portion of chips from the Nippy Chippy was called for…….

Clouds coming into Kilnaughton Bay

Clouds coming into Kilnaughton Bay

Friday 23rd August

Our final day of this stay and yesterdays good weather had vanished ! In between packing our stuff away we managed to fit in a couple of Meals ! First up was Lunch at the Old Kiln , what a delight it was ! Pan Fried Halibut on a bed of Sweet Potato and Spring onion mash with a creamy prawn sauce topped with a langoustine , this photo by Melanie doesn’t do it justice !

lunch

It was delicious and if it had been at a hotel (on the Isle) would have been twice the price ! Our second meal was from The Nippy Chippy , must say their Fish Supper is rather good and worth hunting out , then it was back to the Cottage to finish off the packing and tidy up……

The View i'll miss most......

The View i’ll miss most……

Saturday 24th August

So we packed the car and bid our Goodbyes to Maol Buidhe for this year, off to Port Ellen to Catch the Finlaggan back to the Mainland . Of course there was one last treat , Calmacs legendary Traditional Scottish Breakfast ! Sets you up for the day ! The drive home was pretty good , did notice there was no Roadworks on ‘Rest and Be Thankful’ , the first time for many a year !

Finlaggan approaching Port Ellen

Finlaggan approaching Port Ellen

This years Spoils……..

Spoils

Rouges Gallery…….

rouge-1 rouge-2
rouge-3 rouge-4

Spring 2013 Visit

Saturday 4th May

So once again we head to Islay for our Spring week , this time we’re stopping in Port Ellen in a Cottage on Frederick Crescent , it’s a little while since we’ve stayed in Port Ellen ( 2009 festival at Tigh Cargaman ) so it will be a nice change . As usual it’s an early start to get the lunchtime ferry from Kennacraig . The weather was mixed on the way up Cloudy/rainy till Dunblane , nice and sunny till Tarbert then back to cloudy at Kennacraig , it was a wee bit choppy on the Ferry crossing . Once on the Isle we headed down to Port Ellen to take up our residence in Frederick Crescent . After watching a bit of the rowing going on at the harbour , we had a bite to eat and then headed to the Islay Hotel for a drink or two . Then it was back to the Cottage for the rest of the night .

Sunday 5th May

After a lie in we drove down to Ardbeg to have lunch , after a wee natter to Christine (Logan) in the car park – who was taking a Japanese couple around the Isle after their wedding yesterday in Bowmores Round Church (First Japanese couple to be married in there) – it was into the Old Kiln for some of their scrummy food ! Melanie went for the Cream of tomato soup followed by Lighlty Spiced Noodles with terryaki Chicken , i went for the Cullen Skink followed by the Lamb and Haggis Burger . Few new things we noticed since our last visit , new Menus , new Place mats and a posh coffee machine !

Afterwards we went for a drive along to Kildalton , when we stopped at Seal Bay we had another “Melanie” moment….. ” look there’s a baby seal on them rocks……” This time i had my camera ! You’ll have to indulge me for a moment (see previous posting to this one….) , this time the Otter was in the middle of the bay , but i had a 400mm lens (oh-er missus)….. 

(Click on Images to see full size )

Otter 1 Otter 2
Otter3 Otter4
Otter5 Otter 6
Otter 7 Otter 8
Otter 9

We spent nearly an hour watching this wee beastie ! What a pleasure and what a start to the Holiday , even though he was half way across the Bay ! We continued on to Kildalton then returned to the metropolis that is Port Ellen……

Monday 6th May

Not a very nice morning but after a bit of a lie in (that’s what Bank Holidays are for !) we headed off for a drive to Kilchoman and a bite of lunch . Must say we were slightly disappointed in our lunch there , not up to their usual standard , The Cullen Skink wasn’t up to the previous days offering at the Old Kiln .

Afterwards we headed off to Laddie to see Mary . She’s nearly back to her old self after last years accident , still a wee while to go with the treatment but she’s getting there ! Everything seems hunky-dory at the distillery , a few new faces and i gather a few to depart .

We headed back to Port Ellen to freshen up and go out to The White Hart for a bite to eat , we nearly didn’t get to eat there as they were very busy but they managed to squeeze us in . We both started with the Potato skins (Delicious) and Melanie went for the Chinese Chicken Stir fry and i went for the Hebridean Chicken , both fantastic . Then it was back to the cottage for a night cap .

Tuesday 7th May

Sunshine ! An absolutely glorious morning so the walking boots were pulled on and we headed for Bridgend Woods . Spring is definitely a few weeks behind looking at how far the flora is (or isn’t !) on . I’m teaching Melanie to use my old camera on this trip , i’ll post some of her results at the end of the trip .

(Click on Photos for full size versions)

Melanie in bridgend woodsMelanie in the woods

Melanie The PhotographerMel The Photographer !

PrimrosesPrimroses

BluebellSingle Bluebell

BluebellsA few more…..

FernA fern getting ready to burst into action

We had a great walk through the woods , a little bit of a chill in the wind but in the shade of the trees lovely and warm . As a bit of a treat after the walk we headed into Bowmore to try out the new Coffee Shop in the The Celtic Book Shop , very nice it is too for a cappucino and a bit of cake ! Seeing it was still lovely when we got home i went off on a bit of a romp around the Ard behind us .

The Hebridean IslesHebridean Isles

Swan PoolView across Swan Pool To Laphroaig

Port Ellen StitchPort Ellen Panorama (Quite large file !)

For our evening meal we headed off to the Lochside in Bowmore for a belated Birthday meal for Melanie (we were both ill with Flu when it was actually her Birthday ) , She had a Prawn Cocktail to start with followed by Cajun Chicken with Flatbread , i went for Scallops as my starter and a Steak as the main meal . To say we were stuffed at the end would be an understatement ! HUGE portions !!!! Very tasty though !

Wednesday 8th May

Bit of a quiet day today , weather wasn’t great so we headed up to Bunnahabhain to see what was going on . Was quiet when we got there and managed to catch up with Lillian , they are all looking forward to working with the new owners and the future definitely looks bright at Bunnahabhain ! When we left the shop was busy with people eagerly buying Bunnas products . It’s always a nice drive out to and back from Bunnahabhain whatever the weather , we both still miss the cottages and the views…..

On the way back we decided to stop for a bite to eat at the Ballygrant Inn , it’s one of the only places we haven’t ate in on Islay , we have heard so many good reports about the food there……. Unfortunately it remains that way on this trip as they were having some work done there and weren’t serving food , maybe next trip ! We did have a drink and got to meet the cute , resident 3 legged cat !

The rest of the day was spent in Port Ellen , We called in to see Ella and catch up and Later on i saw out the rest of the evening on the Daftmill Chat .

Thursday 9th May

Early start this morning , we were booked on Iains Warehouse Tour at Lagavulin , To say the walk along from Port Ellen was ‘bracing’ would be a bit of an understatement ! Luckily the proper rain held off , just an odd spot , it was actually quite a nice walk , blew off a few recent cobwebs !

What can you say about Iains Tour that hasn’t been said already ? Another highly entertaining morning with one of the great characters of Islay and superb whisky ! I think this is the busiest tour i’ve seen , Iain told me not to put it on the net that it was busy , but what the hell ! LOL ! Todays whisky selection was….

  • Lagavulin New Make
  • 2004 8yo From Sherry cask 7746
  • 2002 11yo 4th refill sherry
  • 1998 15yo from cask 1712
  • 1982 31yo Cask 681

Like i said superb whisky , we both prefered the 15yo but the 8yo was a close second !

Then it was a short walk along to Ardbeg for a bite to eat , we seem to get in just before the rush , don’t know what’s been going on but everyone’s been commenting on how busy the Isle has been this last fortnight . So down to business , we both had the Ardbeg Crab Chowder to start with , then Melanie went for the Baked Tattie with Prawn Marie Rose and i went for the Seafood Medley (Sea bass , Salmon and Scallops in a creamy white wine sauce) . Not being fully stuffed we decided to finish off with one of Ardbegs wonderful Scones , who ever makes their scones must have the lightest of hands as they simply just melt in your mouth , delicious ! Before departing we managed to have a wee natter with Mickey and then headed back to Port Ellen….. On the bus this time !

While eating at Ardbeg something came up in the conversation about the food , now in the past (while i was doing the website) people would say i was very biased towards Ardbeg (you never said a bad thing about their whisky , we take his reviews with a pinch of salt , Blah blah blah…..) but this is the 15th year we been coming to the Isle and in all that time we’ve never had a bad meal in The Old Kiln ! The food is constantly to a high standard and just when you think you’ve had the most delicious meal ever and nothing can top it , you come back the next time and there’s something else delicious on the menu . And Melanies still raving about the Terryaki Chicken with The slightly Spiced Noodles , i think she’s just doing it on purpose because i didn’t have it !

Friday 10th May

The Final full day on Islay of this visit , once again it was a wee bit dreich but where better to be in the rain ! For lunch we once again headed to The Old Kiln and once again the Crab Chowder was on the menu ! For the mains i had the Bolognese and Melanie went for the Haggis Burger . We bumped into some familiar faces at lunch , Willem and Rita from the Netherlands , they used to go the Festival many moons ago . After a natter and a catch up over lunch , we headed for a drive along the South Shore to Kildalton . When we arrived back at Port Ellen we bumped into Ron from Islayinfo.com outside the Co-op . Then it was back to The Cottage to pack .

Saturday 11th May

So it was farewell to Islay on the 9.45am ferry ! The only good thing about departing on a morning ferry (it’s never good to departing Islay….) is the Calmac Breakfast , a good start to the day . The crossing wasn’t too bad and the drive back was relatively dry . We stopped off at The Inverbeg Inn for a bite to eat on the way back . So to the next visit……

Islay Visits Forum

For a little while now i’ve been looking at adding a forum to this blog , mainly due to the amount of correspondence lately on the blog , thought it would be nice to have somewhere to chat properly . Unfortunately WordPress.com doesn’t allow it . then i had a brainwave , why not be green and recycle (ok i know, not quite…) the old Locked down Spirit of Islay one ? So i have ! Slightly renamed it , cleaned out a few out of date threads , reorganised it a bit and bingo !  So now we have…….

The Islayvisits.net Forum - Warehouse No.4

Just click on the picture above or go to http://spiritofislay.myfreeforum.org/ , i know you’ve got to register but if it was open it would soon be full of spam ! You should see how much i’ve got to clear out of this and my other Blog…….