Islay Visits PartXXXVII – Now where were we?

Wednesday 23rd July

Seeing it was such another glorious day we decided on a short walk , we headed off down south to Kilnaughton bay for a walk around to the Singing Sands . The bay was very busy with sunbathers so we parked up beside the Cemetery and walked around the bay itself .

(click on photos to see full size)

2014_07_23_1One of the Beautifully maintained Cemeteries 2014_07_23_2The View across Kilnaughton Bay to Port Ellen
2014_07_23_3Port Ellen Maltings 2014_07_23_4The Singing Sands
2014_07_23_5View across to Port Ellen 2014_07_23_6Melanie Sunbathing


Carraig Fhada Lighthouse

After a glorious afternoon on the beach we headed back to Lyrabus to carry on the sun worshipping outside the cottage . On this trip we haven’t had many encounters with the local Raptor population , tonights was the closest we seen , it was down the bottom of the field and across the road , thank god for long , decent Canon Glass ! the first one is the actual view and the second is zoomed in thanks to computer software . 

2014_07_23_8 2014_07_23_9

For Tea we we had a rather nice Islay Sirloin Steak washed down with a lovely fruity Le Clos Jordanne Twenty Mile Bench 2009 Pinot Noir .

tonights tea

The evening was ended with a few drams and a bit chat in the daftmill chatroom .

Thursday 24th July

Today was a bit of an easy day , we headed off to lunch at Ardbeg to start with , Melanie had a Prawn with Marie Rose sauce Salad and i had  Chicken Strips in an Ardbeg Pepper sauce with rice , we both pigged out with a pudding of Strawberries , fresh cream and ice cream . After a bit of sun bathing at the pier we had a drive along Kildalton before heading back to Lyrabus to freshen up .



The view from Ardbeg Pier

We headed over to Bowmore in the evening to pay the Nippy Chippy van our first visit of 2014 , Fish suppers all round !



Needless to say the weather in Bowmore was stunning this evening !

On returning to the Cottage it was time for a glass of wine……


Pillitteri 2012 Pinot Grigio

Nose – Florally , smells of old fashioned apples .
Palate – Fizz of summer freshness , smooth and zesty
Comment – Another Fantastic wine from Ontario


The Girls appeared for their treats !


Friday 25th July

The final day of the first week (don’t you just love it when you know there’s another week to go ?) , the sun was shining so we headed off down The Rhinns for a walk around Port Wemyss and Portnahaven . We’d been to Portnahaven a few times but never really bothered with Port Wemyss for some reason ! It was a glorious walk in probably the hottest temperatures of the week…….

2014_07_25_01One of the old landings 2014_07_25_02Across the water
2014_07_25_03Melanie relaxing ! 2014_07_25_04Portnahaven
2014_07_25_05Along the Street 2014_07_25_06The Good Old days
2014_07_25_07Flowers 2014_07_25_08A street in Port Wemyss
2014_07_25_09The Coastal Walk 2014_07_25_10The Landing

On the way back up The Rhinns we popped in for a natter with Martine (Nouet) , she also gave us a try of her remarkable 2001 First fill Barrel of Port Charlotte , probably one of the best PC’s i’ve tried , loaded with tropical fruit , the familiar PC ‘ashes’ and it is the proverbial ‘dying bonfire on the beach’ , Brilliant ! Then after a slight detour to Bowmore to pick up some supplies it was back to the cottage to have a bite to eat and a drink in the sweltering evening heat . In all the time we’ve been coming to Islay i cannot remember such a spell of sunny days !

Tonights wine delight……. 


Peller Estates 2012 Chardonnay

Nose – clean and fresh nose , green fruits
Palate –  green and tropical fruits , smooth across the palate .
Comment – a very smooth chardonnay , no a bit of tarteness like a few other chardonnays I’ve had from other places .

Christmas 2013 Visit Photographs

Here are the Photographs from the Christmas 2013 Visit…….

(Click on photo to see larger version)

Laphroaig Laphroaig2

Two views of Laphroaig on the Saturday including the new larger Warehouse “name” .

Heron at Bruichladdich Geese

A Heron across the way from Bruichladdich Distillery and the obligatory “Geese” photo .

Buzzard Buzzard2

A Buzzard seen at Bridgend .
One of the Native Animals of Islay……

Heilan Coo Waves

One of my favourites , a Heilan Coo and waves down at Portnahaven .

Cottage Cottage2

The interiors of our place of residence , The Stillmans Cottage , Bowmore Distillery .

Cottage3 Cottage4

Melanie looking gorgeous as ever on her way out to the Bridgend Hotel for a meal !

Summer 2012 Trip

So once again it’s that time of the year for our annual summer trip for a fortnight on our favourite little Isle……. 

Saturday 11th August

A pretty uneventful trip up , we left a little earlier than normal to try and avoid the start of the major roadworks on Rest and be Thankful over the weekend to clear the last landslide , we managed that , there was quite a bit of rubble lying by the side of the road when we went passed . We did our usual stops of breakfast at Balloch and coffee break at Tarbert and managed to get to Kennacraig a wee bit early .

(click on photos to see full size)

Finlaggan Approaching Kennacraig

The Journey over was pretty straight forward , even though the ferry was pretty full it never seemed busy , the weather all day hadn’t been too bad but never quite lived up to the forecast . Even when we got to the Isle we really never got bright sunshine . After making our way to Maol Bhuide , Mel sorted our gear out (she’s better than me at unpacking !) i got out the way by walking down to the shoreline to play with my newest acquisition , a 400mm lens , while up on the hillock beside the cottage i spotted something further along the shore in the sea….. An Otter ! Unfortunately it never came in my direction but i did try the lens out , as you can see from the first photo it was a fair bit away !

The Full View

These are a few of the VERY cropped ones

Otter 7


Otter 6


Otter 1



I did go around to Seal Bay to see if i could catch it at that end but to no avail !

After a wonderful tea cooked by Mel i did return down to the shore line but the only thing spotted was the ferry sailing to Port Ellen .

Finlaggan heading to Port Ellen

 The other surprise we got today , apart from the otter , was the empty Kildalton bottle still on the shelf where we left it last September .

Surprise !

I settled down for the night with the Laddie 1970………

Sunday 12th August

After a restless nights sleep (never sleep well in a strange bed on the first night….) i decided to get up and go for a walk , it’s surprisingly quiet at 7.15am on a Sunday in the Parish of Kildalton ! I went for a walk back along to Seal bay but all i could see was seals and Cormorants

Seal in Seal Bay


Cormorant in Seal Bay

After an hour i returned to bed for a bit of a snooze….. awakening again we had a light breakfast then walked along to Ardbeg for lunch to be warmly greeted by Jackie . We booth went for the Seafood chowder , incredibly  yummy , and a Baked Tattie , mine with Haggis , Mels with Prawn Marie Rose . we then went along to Port Ellen to pick up some more supplies before returning to the cottage and an evening of hitting the whisky stash i bought along……

The Whisky Selection

The weather never really brightened up today , it looked promising early on then it decided to rain on and off for a while , nothing major just light showers , we’re hopping it’s going to clear up later for the promised meteor shower……   

WalkHighlands guide to walks on Islay and Jura

Just found an interesting new page on the WalkHighlands Site , a guide to walks on Islay and Jura . Only Islay ones listed at the moment but well worth a look if you’re heading to the Queen of the Hebrides and are interested in doing a few walks . The direct link to the Islay page is Islay Walks

September 2011 Visit

So once again we head back to Islay for our Annual fortnight on the Isle . This time slightly later than usual due to us celebrating my 50th Birthday and to a new place , Maol Buidhe , due to Bunnahabhain having stopped the rental of their Cottages . Maol Buidhe is situated at the other end of the Isle on the South Shore just along from Ardbeg Distillery .

Saturday 10th

We set off at our usual departure time of 4.30am , the weather was fine on the East Coast but by the time we hit the west we were in showers / wind /low cloud . When we arrived at Kennacraig it wasn’t too bad infact by the time we were sailing down West Loch Tarbert  it was sunny !

(Click on any of the photos to see larger version)

First sighting Getting Closer
Into the Mist Open Sezza Me !

The new ferry Finlaggan isn’t too bad , apart from the Tacky lighting feature in the downstairs bar area and what i consider to be a slight oversight these days given the amount of money spent , NO Wi-fi ! One thing they could look into is an announcement before it docks for people parked on the Mezz Deck , so they know what to do and also an announcement to tell people to be sharpish in getting back to their cars so the rest of us waiting can off the boat !

New Bar Area Finl;aggan Sculpture

Anyway when we did get ashore the weather was sunny with a strong wind . We drove straight down to the cottage , got settled in , had something to eat then drank !

As this is a special Birthday i’ve brought some bottles with me i’ve been keeping to open on this occasion , i can now hear people saying “do you know how much that is worth on the Secondary market ?!?!?! “ Yup i f*$&ing do and i bought it to drink it not make money on it ! So onto the first one……

Bruichladdich 1970 Valinch Cask #5085

Bruichladdich 1970 Valinch

Distilled Dec 1970 , Bottled 29th May 2001 at 47.3% From a Bourbon cask . A lovely Golden Syrup colour , the nose is of a wonderful old , well matured Laddie , bags of oak spices and vanilla , very citrusy  , a dram you could smell for ever and a day . Quite fruity as well , an English summer green fruit salad . On the palate it again is very spicy , quite oaky but in a nice way , again very fruity , apples and pears , apples with cinnamon . The finish is long , spicy and oaky with a hint of citrus at the end . The 1970 O.b. is one of my favourite Laddie releases , this single cask is another step up from it , if you’ve got one of these squirreled away , open it , you are in for a nice surprise . If you had one of these and you sold it on , no matter what price you got , you don’t know what you’ve missed .

Sunday 11th

Woke up to a howling wind and rain , after a lie in and breakfast we headed off to pick up some supplies at Bridgend and Bowmore . There was a brief lull in the rain but it’s been persistent all day , heavy one minute , the fine drizzle the next . We’ve decided just to spend the rest of the day in the cottage , get the home fires burning and pour some drams ! After something to eat of course…..

I Beg your Pardon….. What could be better on a Wet and Windy Autumn Evening on Islay in front of a real fire than a Handful of Begs……

Five Begs

Very Old Ardbeg 30yo

Bottled in 1996 at 30yo ( Aah 1966 , a good year for the English not so good for the Scottish……), i love the old fashioned  style of label , looks old before you even try it ! An Amberish colour , the nose is a wonderful  Ardbeg Iodine , no peat at all , again the palate is iodine but with an oakiness  , very silky across the palate with a slight touch of oak spices , very warming . The finish is medium with iodine and a touch of spices . A wonderful Dram ,not lacking at 40% but still makes you wonder “What if they’d bottled it at…… ?”

Very Old Ardbeg

Ardbeg Kildalton 1980 24yo Lightly Peated

Bottled for the Committee in 2004 at 57.6% , a lovely burnished Gold colour , the nose is very un-Ardbegish , very fruity , Malty and biscuity . The highlight of the nose is definitely the fruitiness , apples and pears bursting out all over the place . The Plate does have a touch of the peat and smoke underneath a fruitiness . There is also a hint of chocolate and cocoa . The finish is long and beautiful with green fruits . A cracking aged dram , not what you’d expect from an Ardbeg .

Ardbeg Committee Reserve

Another Committee Bottling , Made up of Ardbeg from the 1970’s , 1980’s and 1990’s , vatted into 3000 bottles at 55.3% . Again a burnished gold colour , a right old mixture of Ardbeg Smells , peat , smoke , iodine , chocolate , coffee…….. along with Marzipan and cloves ! The palate  is youthful and elderly , the peaty youthfulness and the elderly iodine . The finish is long , warming , peaty and chocolate . An Ardbeg with everything !

Ardbeg Renaissance

The End of the Peaty path , a 10yo Ardbeg at Caskstrength (55.9%)  from 1st Fill Bourbon Barrels . Well where do you start , straw in colour , a fantastic Ardbeg nose , a classic Ardbeg palate , a whopping Ardbeg finish .  I once gave this 9.95 out of 10 at a tasting , i know why , this is a fantastic Ardbeg , on the nose bags of peat , creamy fudge , cocoa , seashore and dunnage warehouse . On the palate  Peat , smoke , Cocoa , Dark chocolate , creamy , wonderful ! Fantastic finish……. Heaven !

Ardbeg Feis Ile

This years Feis Ile bottling , 2 PX matured casks , hence the lovely amber colour . The nose is a perfect mix of Ardbeg Spirit and sherry casks , very smoky , dry and sherried  . The palate is very dry , sherry , chocolate , peat and gorgeous . finish is long , dry , sherry and peaty chocolate . Absolutely gorgeous , a stunning example of an Ardbeg matured away from the usual Bourbon / Sherry casks .

Monday 12th

Let the wind blow High , let the wind blow low……   with the remains of Hurricane Katia on our door step it was a wee bit windy ! After a trip into Port Ellen we headed along to The Old Kiln for lunch with Serge Valentin and his wife and Mark Gillespie of Whiskycast fame . On arrival we found a few familiar faces in the OK due to a Ardbeg Embassies trip including Martin Grant from MHUK  and Arthur Motley from RMW . The lunch got off to a good start with a try of the recently released Alligator , i thought it tasted better than the Committee release but i was informed by my learned friends it was exactly the same spirit batch ! We ordered lunch and then the electric went off !!! We   managed to get some of it (The Crab Chowder , Lamb Burgers , salad but Serge had to change his Baked Tattie ) . After a couple of drams i’d took along , Jackie appeared with a couple of Cask samples for us to try , a 1999 12yo 1st fill and a 1999 12yo refill , that the Embassy mob had been comparing . Must say they were both stunning , i slightly preferred the 1st fill , very Renaissance-y .

It was great catching up with Serge again after 6 years and finally meeting his wife , it was a pleasure meeting Mark in the flesh after so long talking over the internet and listening to his excellent WhiskyCast . We headed back to the Cottage for another Evening of Real fire and Islay Drams…..

Port Charlotte 4yo Cask R23

Decided to bring a new bottle of this with me to open up on the Isle  , what can i say…… Best port Charlotte ever…..So far…… Wonderful nose , like an old dunnage warehouse at first then Maltiness and peat smoke . Delightful ! The palate is a dry smoky maltiness and a dry peat , very pleasant and tastes a lot older than it’s age . The finish is very long , dry with a smooth smokiness .

Caol Ila 10yo Unpeated Style

Bottled in 2009 at a whopping   65.8% . A pale gold in colour , the full strength nose is very fruity , green fruits , caramel and shortbread biscuit . The palate is quite strong (obviously !) , needs reducing , so with water it brings out the fruitiness . The finish is long and slightly sweet , nearly opal fruitish (that’s Starbursts for the youngsters…..)  . A very nice dram from a distillery that doesn’t usually fail to deliver !

Tuesday 13th

Woke up again to rain and wind , the left overs from yesterdays storm , it looks like it’s going to be like this all day . Today is the first of the booked tours , first up is the Laphroaig ‘Johnstons Choice’ Tasting so after lunch at The Old Kiln we headed off to a busy Laphroaig for the 3pm appointment . There were only 4 of us on this tasting hosted by David , a former warehouseman . We were given 4 drams to try….

Mel at the Laphroaig Tasting

  • Laphroaig 10yo 40%
  • Laphroaig 25yo 48.6%
  • Laphroaig Cairdeas 2008 Feis ile 55%
  • Laphroaig Cairdeas 30yo 43%

David talked us through what made up each expression , the original tasting notes and gave us a few pointers on how to enjoy each one , loved the tip for the Feis Ile bottling involving putting water in the palate then drinking the whisky through it , really brought out the full Laphroaig flavours in that one . Obviously our opinions were asked and given , it was a nice relaxed tasting intermixed with stories from David , a great way to spend a late afternoon with some fantastic whisky and a bargain for £25 . After purchasing the latest 10yo Cask strength batch (003) and a few other bits and pieces we headed back to the Cottage for a bit more Laphroaig…..

Laphroaig 10yo 40%

A lot better than the last 10yo i tried , seems to be regaining more of it’s former glory , getting more of the medicinalness on the nose , farmyard and nettles (don’t know why i started finding this from ) , also seems to be a lot more peaty . Pretty much the same on the palate with a long warming finish , now if only they’d go the full hog and bump it up to 46% without the chill filtering……. Was very surprised to see Mel drinking this one !

Laphroaig 25yo 48.6%

Was taken slightly aback by this one as the last 25yo i tried wasn’t too clever , this is superb ! Still holds a slight ‘Laphroaig’ taste to it , the nose is quite fruity with a hint of medicinalness , pear drops definitely shine through along with a slight sherry hint , The palate very medicinal again with the farmyard / nettles thing and green fruits . again a lovely long and warming finish . Mel liked this one too .

Laphroaig Cairdeas  2008 Feis ile 55%

Have a bottle (or two) of this one  , an excellent Laphroaig , Very medicinal , seashore , peaty , ozone etc etc . Mel wasn’t too hot on this one probably because she knew what was coming next……

Laphroaig Cairdeas 30yo 43%

30 years in a sherry cask can make or break a spirit , thankfully this one was the former ! Where do you start ? A delightfully fruity nose , lots of red berries , not overly sherried . The palate is classic Christmas cake with loads of dried fruit and again red berries then in the finish there is a blast of Laphroaig medicinalness and a hint of peat , wonderful ! Mels favourite of the tasting , she always does like old things…..

What's getting opened this holiday

Wednesday 14th

We woke up to beautiful sunshine this morning , totally different to the previous 2 days , at least it gave us a chance to have a look at our surroundings and local fauna before heading off to todays festivities .

Maol Buidhe Cottage

Our home sweet home this fortnight .

Geese over the Bay

Geese flying over the bay (took handheld at full 300mm zoom)

Cormorant in the bay

Cormorant over the bay (took handheld at full 300mm zoom)



We headed off to the other side of the Island for the Afternoon Managers tour of Kilchoman . We went over early to have some lunch in their cafe beforehand . The tour was took by someone we’ve come to know quite well over the years during our frequent visits to the Isle , John Mac lellan , it was good to see him again and as always his tour was informative and humourous  . This is the first real tour we’ve done of Kilchoman and it was good to see the different methods and approaches of the distillery . It ended with a tasting in the warehouse of New make and a 2006 cask sample and trying two of the recent releases in the visitors centre , the 2011 spring release and the 100% Islay release (50%abv) . It will be interesting to see how the single malt develops over the years .

Kilchoman Mill

Kilchoman Stillhouse

On our way back to the cottage we stopped off in Port Ellen to see a good friend of ours Ella Edgar and find out how her retirement was going and how her recent rubbing shoulders with royalty went .

On our return to the cottage we got an answer to a question that had been bugging us….. We noticed some animal poo on the grass and we wondered what had deposited it…’s amazing the conversations you have in remote cottages when you’re on holiday……  as we pulled up to the cottage we seen the culprits on the lawn……. Deer !  The ran off straight away . The local Animals seemed to go wild after the recent storms tonight . We had bats flying over head , some strange sounds coming from the bay , what sounded like deer rutting coming over the fields and a ginger cat appeared from nowhere !

Like late last night , tonight we had a beautiful moon lit night , last night at about midnight i tried to take some photos but i cocked up the manual focusing , tonight i done a wee bit better , yes that is the full moon…….

Moon Shine

Thursday 15th

We were spoilt this morning to wake up to our second day of beautiful Islay sunshine ! Today we were booked into the afternoon Warehouse tour at Lagavulin with Pinkie . Now as followers of this blog will know from past visits it’s always a good idea to have a good meal before doing one of Iains Warehouse demonstrations (isn’t it Willie !) so we felt it was our duty to go to the Old Kiln again for lunch on the way along . Mel once again went for the Crab Chowder  (she really likes it ) and had an old favourite to follow , Baked Tattie with Prawn Marie Rose . I went for the new edition to the menu , Venison Sausages in a 5 bean gravy with a mash which was very nice and also extremely filling ! I got a bit of a surprise at the Distillery when Janey appeared with a parcel that had been delivered there for me , addressed to ‘Gordon (Auld Yin) Homer’ , what was it and who was if from ? Well you’ll have to wait to find out……We then headed off in the direction of Lagavulin .

The one good thing about staying on the South Shore (apart from having 3 of the best distilleries in the world on your doorstep !) is the fantastic scenery as you walk between the aforementioned distilleries , you get some cracking views of the distilleries , remote bays , views across bays to the mainland  and if you’re really lucky you see some of the fantastic wildlife Islay has to offer .

When you walk along from Ardbeg to Lagavulin you climb a small hill (if you can call it that ) where you get to see one of my favourite views of Ardbeg Distillery .

Ardbeg Distillery

Upon reaching the top you get your first view of Lagavulin Village and Distillery .


It is a beautiful walk along the road , especially if you do the full 3 miles from Port Ellen to Ardbeg along the rugged coastline , breathe taking in places and it gives you a chance to drink in the landscape that has formed the 3 South Shore distilleries characters without speeding along past it in a car .

We eventually got to Lagavulin and went into the warehouse for Iains demonstration . Once again Iain was in top form , he never fails to deliver  , the whiskies tried this time were……

  • 10yo from a 2nd fill cask
  • 14yo from a 4th fill cask
  • 18yo from an ex-sherry cask
  • 1994 Distillers edition
  • Distillery only bottling

On the way out we purchased one of the Distillery  only Bottlings and also a Caol Ila Moch . We then had a pleasant walk back to the Cottage where we settled down for a relaxing evening with a few drams .

The Lagavulin Warehouse Tour Drams….

10yo from a 2nd fill cask – Pale Gold in Colour , very young smelling initially , quite peaty . The palate is quite fiery and peppery with very peaty undertones . The Lagavulin character isn’t quite there yet but it is definitely an Islay .

14yo from a 4th fill cask – Straw in colour , the nose is quite closed at first , then a soft peatiness emerges with a stronger smokiness . On the palate it is very peaty  but with a more distinct Lagavulin taste than the nose , the finish is long and peaty  . Hasn’t taken much from the cask still a touch spirity .

18yo from an ex-sherry cask – Burnished gold in the glass , this is more like it , a lovely sherried smokiness  on the nose , The palate is classic Laga , sweet and smoky . This one was very popular on the tour .

Distillery Only Bottling – This is the same stuff that goes into the Distillers Edition , spirit that was left over and matured for an extra period and bottled at Cask Strength . A lovely smooth Lagavulin , very dark fruits and smokiness with a nice long finish . On the tour you were given the choice of this one or the DE , we went for 1 each to compare and quickly came to the conclusion that this was the better dram .

Friday 16th

The last day of my 49th year , a fairly quiet one , drive up to Bowmore for some supplies , lunch at a very busy Old Kiln Cafe and then back to the Cottage for a relaxing night of drams .

The Birthday Drams !

Seeing it’s a special Birthday i’ve been keeping back some special bottles for the occasion , i’ve opened some up as the weeks progressed but last night i went for the final three……..

What's getting opened this holiday

Gordon and Macphails 1961 Glen Grant Bottled 2011 40%

A lovely Ruby Red colour in the glass , loads of red fruits on the nose , oaky spices and sherry trifle , a very relaxed nose . On the palate a lovely balance between the sherry , spirit and wood , again red berries , spices and what can only be described  as the bottom of the sherry trifle (the jelly and sherry soaked sponge ) . The finish is medium with dry sherry and oak spices . A lovely dram for it’s age , very drinkable .

Bunnahabhain Auld Acquaintance

Distilled in 1968 , bottled in 2002 at 43.8% , 1 of 2002 bottles . Deep Amber in colour , a wonderful nose , the archetypical Christmas cake , cake dough , dried fruit , bags of sherry , there is also more than a hint of Bunnahabhain sweetness . A seriously superb sherry palate ! Beautiful mouthfeel , lots of dark fruits , sherry and cola cube sweets , very aromatic and spices . A lovely long sherry finish , with Christmas spices . This is possibly the most perfect sherried Bunnahabhain ever if not best sherried malt ever . Absolutely perfect , if i scored it would be in the very high 90’s…..

Old Malt Cask 1967 Ardbeg Bottled 2000 49%

Amber in colour , the nose is an un-mistakable Ardbeg , a lovely soft Ardbeg-dine mingles with a vanilla – spiceness   , another gorgeous mouthfeel , still quite lively , again a mixture of Ardbeg-dine and spices , quite a classic Ardbeg taste Mmmmm…..   The finish is medium , very pleasant and really  Ardbegish   . Another fabulous old Beg from the 60’s .

Very Old Ardbeg 30yo

Bottled in 1996 at 30yo ( Aah 1966 , a good year for the English not so good for the Scottish……), i love the old fashioned  style of label , looks old before you even try it ! An Amberish colour , the nose is a wonderful  Ardbeg Iodine , no peat at all , again the palate is iodine but with an oakiness  , very silky across the palate with a slight touch of oak spices , very warming . The finish is medium with iodine and a touch of spices . A wonderful Dram ,not lacking at 40% but still makes you wonder “What if they’d bottled it at…… ?”

Previous Notes……

Bruichladdich 1970 Valinch Cask #5085

Distilled Dec 1970 , Bottled 29th May 2001 at 47.3% From a Bourbon cask . A lovely Golden Syrup colour , the nose is of a wonderful old , well matured Laddie , bags of oak spices and vanilla , very citrusy  , a dram you could smell for ever and a day . Quite fruity as well , an English summer green fruit salad . On the palate it again is very spicy , quite oaky but in a nice way , again very fruity , apples and pears , apples with cinnamon . The finish is long , spicy and oaky with a hint of citrus at the end . The 1970 O.b. is one of my favourite Laddie releases , this single cask is another step up from it , if you’ve got one of these squirreled away , open it , you are in for a nice surprise . If you had one of these and you sold it on , no matter what price you got , you don’t know what you’ve missed .

Port Charlotte 4yo Cask R23

Decided to bring a new bottle of this with me to open up on the Isle  , what can i say…… Best port Charlotte ever…..So far…… Wonderful nose , like an old dunnage warehouse at first then Maltiness and peat smoke . Delightful ! The palate is a dry smoky maltiness and a dry peat , very pleasant and tastes a lot older than it’s age . The finish is very long , dry with a smooth smokiness .

7.57 SMWS 25yo Longmorn ‘Hallelujah Dram’

Haven’t got around to writing up notes for this one but it is an Excellent Longmorn……

Saturday 17th

The big 5-0 has been reached ! Woke up to another day of Sunshine and Showers , Didn’t really do a lot during the day except for a trip down to Port Ellen . After a pre-meal drink at the Cottage we headed off to the Bridgend Hotel with our guests for the night Ella ,  Mickey and Margaret  and Jackie and Dugga . Unfortunately two others couldn’t make it for the night , Mary from Laddie and Ian Gray . The Menu for the meal was brand new  due to the chef having just started for the Bridgend (it’s the chef who was going to be working at the New Islay Hotel and used to work in the Old Kiln but it’s a complicated Islay story how he ended up here…..but all i can say is The Islays loss is the Bridgends gain) . Once again we were made to feel very welcome by Lorna and her staff and to say the food was excellent is an understatement . After a few rounds of drinks  from ourselves and Mickey we sat down for the meal .  For starters Mel and Ella had the Crab chowder , Myself , Mickey and Dugga had the Rannoch Venison , Margaret and Jackie had the smoked Salmon . For mains Dugga and Ella had the Steak , Mel and Myself had the Duck – cherry jus and honey roasted vegetables , Jackie had the Chicken breast with Mango salsa and corn cake , Margaret went for the Goats cheese and Mickey went for the Halibut with sauted savoy cabbage and mash . Not everyone had a pudding , Mel , Mickey and Ella went for Lemon Posset with Cinnamon shortbread biscuits and i went for the Chocolate Tart ! Ella treat us to a cheese selection with a Port later on .

Like i said the food was superb , and the company was excellent , The wine courtesy of Jackie and Dugga  and ourselves and the fine aged Islay Malts flowed all night ,  there  was great craic around the table  , we even got to hear lots of stories about Islay past , Ella should definitely sit down and write a book , They were just as good if not better than some of Islays legendary Storytellers . Many thanks to them all for a fantastic night and some splendid gifts , The Glass Painting and cask end from all at Ardbeg   . The New Laddie 10yo (hot off the bottling line last Sunday ) off Mary and the Bunnahabhain 18yo from Ella .

Ardbeg Picture and Cask End

Laddie 10 and Bunna 18

Sunday 18th

This Sunday we woke up to a total contrast to  last Sunday , Beautiful sunshine , so good i got up early and went down to the shoreline to take some photos  . After a brief visit back to bed , we finally got up , had some breakfast and went for our first proper walk of the holidays along the south shore as  far as the old Hotel . Plenty of deer about , the odd seal and a Herd (?) of Peacocks . It was very Mediterranean as we went from bay to bay .

Bay Panorama




Next doors Pier

Wild Iris

Bruichladdich 10yo 46%

Distilled 11/09/01 , Bottled 11/09/11 . The ‘Bruichladdich’ spirit has reached 10yo (They didn’t start distilling it till 4 months after the official opening) , a honey-gold in colour  , the nose is quite young to start with then it becomes quite fruity , Green fruits initially (Apples , pears) then Melon , at the end fudge and malt come through . The palate feels more robust (if that’s the word , there’s more of it…..) than previous 10yo’s , rich and silky , it’s sweet at first , very honeyed , fudge , a touch of lemon and a hint of maltiness . The finish is medium with a nice warmness and sweetness . I must admit when i first tried this i wasn’t impressed with it . i think the initial nose of youthfulness put me off , but…… after the third try of it i’m liking it…..not as much as the 1970 tried earlier in the Holidays though .

7.57 SMWS Longmorn 25yo ‘Hallelujah dram’ 58.7%

From a refill hogshead , A beautiful polished gold in colour , an incredible fruitiness greets the nose , exotic fruits like mangos and pineapples , bags of vanilla , very fresh and satisfying . The palate carries on where the nose left off , a lovely sweet  fruitness , quite honeyed as well , again vanilla . This one fair dances across the mouth , wonderful ! A lovely long honeyed  finish with exotic fruits . You can see why Longmorn is much sought after for top dressing in blends , it is a top class malt , just a shame it’s not available more than the 16yo O.b. and the odd rare I.b.

Monday 19th

We woke up to quite a nice day , we had lunch in The Lochside  – which had recently changed hands – it’s the first time we had eaten in there for a good few years and to be honest we won’t be returning in a hurry……

We then drove down to Bunnahabhain to catch up with Lillian and pick up what was originally one bottle but soon turned into 2 ! After trying the 25yo i decided to treat myself to one for my birthday . It was good to catch up with the happenings at one of my favourite distillery and find out everythings going well and they’d been very busy .

Two Bunnahabhains

The Bunnahabhain 25yo and the 2011 Feis Ile bottling

It was a nice drive out and back to Bunnahabhain  and it made us realise how much we were missing the Cottages down there but life goes on….. We continued on what turned out to be an afternoon of catching up , we headed to the Islay House square to pick up some beer at the Islay Brewery and see how Paul and Steve were getting on . 6 bottles of Angus Og later and we called in on Mark Unsworth and his wife at the Islay Studios and admire his amazing work while having a natter .

We then headed back to Bowmore to buy a few supplies and have an early meal in the Golden Dragon . It was our first visit to Islays only Chinese Restaurant and it won’t be our last ! The food is excellent , we struggled with the size of portion to be honest , We started with a shared plate of appetisers (ribs , prawn toast etc) then i had a Chicken Kubo and Mel had Chilli Chicken . Full and satisfied we headed back to Maol Buidhe .

Tuesday 20th

We had a well laid out plan for today . Lunch at Ardbeg  (damn , that Crab Chowder is so good…..) then head off to Bridgend for a walk through the woods , Bridgend is where it fell apart , while filling the car up with petrol it started chucking it down with rain ! So instead we went for a drive down the Rhinns to Portnahaven . It’s a nice circular drive down the Loch Indaal shore then back up the Atlantic coast . The sea was a bit rough especially down at Portnahaven …..

Sea off Portnahaven

Bay on the West Coast

Stream on the West Side

We do like this drive and ended the way we usually do…..with a drink in the Bar of the Port Charlotte Hotel ! So then it was back to Bowmore again for a meal , this time an Indian (we’re on Holiday so we can eat out a lot !) , i went for a Lamb Passanda and Mel for a Garlic Chicken . After last nights excellent Chinese this meal was a little disappointing .

Then it was back to the Cottage…….

Bottles so far....

Purchases , Pick ups and gifts… far……

Wednesday 21st

A long lie in this morning , probably the best thing to do giving the wind and rain we woke up to . When we did get up we headed up to Bowmore to get some provisions and pop in to see Ailsa at Spirited Soaps to get a good  supply of her Bunnahabhain Seafarers soap . We then drove back down the Isle and popped in to Ardbeg  for a cup of tea and a dessert , i had the Irish Cream Cheesecake and Mel had the Apple Crumble . Mickey gave us a try of a rather interesting 5yo from a 1st Fill Cask , very nice for such a young whisky . Mel picked up a green hooded jacket while we were there , she looks very nice in it…..

For tea we had an excellent Sirloin Steak from Billys in Bowmore , there’s just something totally different about locally  reared beef from the stuff you get in supermarkets , so much more tastier ! The rest of the evening was spent along at Port Ellen doing a bit of surfing on the internet and back at the cottage enjoying a few Lagavulins…..

Lagavulin 1993 Jazz Festival 2011Bottling 55.4%

Lagavulin 1993

From a Bodega Sherry Cask #355 filled 08/02/1993 , bottled 2011 . Specially selected by Iain MacArthur , the colour of Autumn russet leaves , the initial nose is of dying embers in a fire , then peated sherry and finally peat smoke . The palate is quite sweet at first , then the Lagavulin smoke emerges  . The sherry and the spirit are very well balanced , neither over-powering , it does actually remind me more of it’s easterly next door neighbour than a Lagavulin . The finish is medium , sweet and smoky . A very nice and unusual Laga (i can’t remember ever having a straight sherry matured Laga – apart from in a warehouse tasting  ).

Thursday 22nd

Another lazy day (don’t you just love them on Holidays !) after a quick call into Bowmore for one last supplies pick up , we called in to see Paul and Joan at An Taigh Osda to say hello and catch up with the going ons at Islays only Boutique Hotel . The Evening was spent at the Bridgend Hotel enjoying another fine meal . We just went for mains this time , Melanie went for the Sirloin Steak and i had the Poached Halibut with a Seafood Bisque , Prawn Mousseline and savoy cabbage . Once again Kevin came up trumps with the food . We also bumped into Mickey and Margaret who’d also made a return visit for  a meal . Afterwards we went for a drive along to Kildalton in the dark to try and spot any nocturnal wildlife , i think they’d all gone to bed early…….

Friday 23rd

Our last full days of the Holiday and once more we headed to Ardbeg for lunch  at the Old Kiln . I started with the Cullen Skink and then had the Islay Steak and Ale Pie , Melanie just went for the Bolognese and pasta . After lunch and a few drams we went for a little walk , Earlier in the holiday we’d spotted another pier from the Jetty of the Cottage (photo left , below) that i’d never seen before  , i’d asked Mickey whos it was and he said the distilleries ! It’s where the supply ships (puffers) used to dock . We walked along to the pier and got a view towards Maol Buidhe (Photo right , below) .

Next doors Pier View from Ardbegs other Pier

The View back at the distillery from the Pier Road…..

Ardbeg Distillery

Afterwards we returned to the Cottage to Pack and had a beautiful Venison Burger from Billys in Bowmore .

Saturday 24th

We departed from the Isle on the 9.45am ferry in beautiful Sunshine (typical !) , Another Great holiday at a special time for me .

You can see more photos at Gordon_H’s Islay Autumn 2011 Photoshop Album

Thought i’d end with a few photos of the cottages interiors…….

Cottage Living Room Cottage Kitchen
Cottage Bedroom Cottage Sun Room

It’s very nice inside (and the Kitchen has tiles from Ardbeg malt flooring on the floor !) , the sun room is fantastic with a nice view down to the bay . If you want more details go to , we’ll be returning in the future !

Many Thanks to the good folks of Ardbeg , Laphroaig , Lagavulin , Kilchoman and Bunnahabhain for making our visits extra special . To Ella , Mickey , Margaret , Jackie , Dugga , Melanie and Lorna and her staff at The Bridgend Hotel for giving me a wonderful time on the night of my 50th Birthday . And to Mary , Paul and Joan for their special gifts .

Winter 2010 Visit

After a gap of 3 years we decided to make another Winter visit to Islay , we had no idea of the way it was going to end……

Thursday 25th November

We awoke to a sight we didn’t particularly didn’t want to see at 4am in the morning , snow ! Maybe at this point we should have thought about not going…….

(click on photos to see full size version)

Lots of Snow !It was slow going at first on virtually ungritted roads but by the time we reached Hexham the roads were clear and we had a beautiful sunny drive up to Kennacraig .

Kennacraig At Kennacraig we bumped into a good friend who was also heading over to Islay , that well known Scottish artist Ian Gray . We both had to reverse onto the ferry (for reasons best known to Calmac….) , somewhat easier for me than Ian , but even harder for a large item of Electrical equipment on a lowloader that was also heading over !  We ended up catching up on quite a bit of gossip on the ferry over before heading our own ways once arriving on the Isle . After a stop off to pick up a few bits and pieces we eventually arrived at our accommodation in Port Charlotte , the Lorgba cottages . After a freshen up we headed off to the Port Charlotte Hotel for something to eat and an evening of drinking and gossip . We met up with Ian again , a couple of his friends Andrew and Barbara and later on Mark Usworth . After a couple of pints of Angus Og (this is my Fav Islay Ale , superb) , a Black Bottle 10yo (woo-hoo) and the new PC (the multivintage one….) Ian produced some Springbank samples , his own bottling , a rather nice 12yo i think and a 1999 ‘Local Barley’ . A good night was had by all !

Sample label

Friday 26th November

This morning we decided to forgo the motor and took the bus to Ardbeg , it was a cold but sunny morn and a lovely journey across the Isle .It’s always nice to let someone else do the driving……it also means i can have a drink !

 Ardbeg in the winter sunWe’re Back !

After a cup of tea we were joined by Mickey and enjoyed a good natter and a few drams . All is well in the distillery…..
We had lunch , which as usual was excellent , the Islay Crab Chowder and Homemade Raspberry trifle were to die for !
After succumbing to the current Ardbeg Single Cask (which is actually a superb Beg ) we got the bus back to PC , having to change at Bowmore so a quick visit to Duffies was fitted in .
Tonight we just relaxed in the cottage with a coal fire and a handful of CS Begs ( the new O.b. SC , 33.91 , 33.96 and Renaissance) .
Another full day to go tomorrow !!!

Saturday 27th November

Bit of a shock when we got up this morning , Snow ! Not a lot but a sprinkling .

Snow at the cottage Port charlotte

We  went for a bit of a drive down the bottom end of the Rhinns , a gorgeous drive in the Clear , sunny winter sunshine .

The gorgeous Mel ! One of the many Bays on islay Some scruff we wandered across....

On the way back we popped into Bruchladdich to see Mary but she’s stopped working Saturdays , we then went over to Bowmore to pick up a few bits and bobs (including a new Bunnahabhain 12 at the Spar shop , on offer at £28.99) and  returned for a relaxing afternoon in the cottage in front of the fire with a few drams . We decided to go over to the PC hotel for a meal and a few drinks and bumped into Andrew and Barbara again , amongst the drams tried was the new Laddie Organic , not as good as the 2003 imo , we then returned to the cottage to see out the rest of the evening and pack up our belongings .
Portnahaven Panorama

Sunday 28th November

Woke up to a cold , crisp , frosty morning on Islay . We packed the Car and headed to Port Ellen for the morning ferry , all was well on Islay , unfortunately the same couldn’t be said on the mainland……

We arrived in West Loch Tarbert to horizontal , driving snow ! It was slow going along the A83 and just as we got to Rest and be thankful….the police shut it . So we turned around , drove back to Inveraray and then headed up to Crainlarich only to get there and find the A82 was shut down Loch Lomond ! So we headed off down the A84 and A85 to Stirling  in some of the worst conditions i’ve ever drove in . We got off the Ferry at 12.05pm , it was 8pm by the time we got to Stirling…….We gave up , found a room and settled down for the night with a hearty meal and a bit of booze !

Monday 29th November

The Roads were still pretty bad but usable , there was about 6 inches of snow on the car when we went out .  After Breakfast and phonecalls to respective employers we headed off homeward the long way…..The A1 was closed so we headed over to Glasgow , down to Carlisle and then back across to Newcastle , eventually getting home mid-afternoon .