Jim’s Islay Break

Jim and Jacqueline had booked a weeks break in our favourite part of the world, Islay, for the last week in February 2010.

Check the Gallery out for loads of photos.

Our plan was to completely chill out, relax and enjoy the pleasures that this magical island provides, which include fantastic beaches, first class dinning and of course some of the best distilleries in Scotland.

We carried out our usual rituals, which include a journey via Loch Lomond up and over the Rest and be Thankful a stop at the Loch Fynne oyster bar, then onwards to Lochgilphead and a stop at Tarbert for a big but not too healthy full breakfast. During the journey Jim was the driver and Jacqueline was in charge of the music and the big bag of sweets that we took with us.

The ferry crossing was smooth and a joy, we wandered around the deck taking in some beautiful views of the Mull of Kintyre and the Paps of Jura and drinking in the purity of the breeze prior to heading up the sound to Port Askaig.

This trip, as has the past two visits to Islay we stayed at the accommodation provided by Port Charlotte Holidays and on this trip we did meet the owner Margaret McCallum and we would recommend anyone visiting Islay to first try www.portcharlotteholidays.com as you will not be disappointed with the accommodation and the location

On this adventure we did not have any itinery, we were just going to go with the flow. Most of our meals out were at Port Charlotte Hotel, a little expensive but worth every penny and the oysters are to die for, we also ate a The Harbour Inn in Bowmore also a little expensive but great food. One other place to visit for lunch is the little restaurant in the Ardbeg Distillery, great home made food at an affordable price (best Cullen Skink ever).

From some of the photo’s you will see that we both walked on some stunning beaches, letting the wind and clean air whip through our hair, a truly brilliant experience, every one should be able to do this at least once.

We only visited a few Distilleries on this trip, our favourite is Bruichladdich where we spent a few bob on some of their fabulous expressions, including, Peat, Rum Cask, Pedro Ximinez, 2003 Organic and Moine Mhor. So you can expect some great tasting in the not so distant future. The staff at Bruichladdich are fantastic led by Jim McEwan who on this trip gave us a short guide around the Distillery showing us his new project with a Lomond Still with which he intends to produce Islay Gin this will include in excess of thirty Islay botanicals. Jim also introduced us into some fantastic new distillations and the tastings were great. This distillery should be very high on everyone who visit Islay, the shop, the tour, the hospitality and the drams of the Gods.

We also visited Bunnahabhain Distillery and enjoyed a few tastings and a long chat with the staff, but it was the pier on the day we visited that took our breath away, we could see across to Jura, but the seas were high and the pebbled shoreline was getting a battering from the incoming powerful Atlantic waves, a sheer delight.

Laphroaig was also high on Jim’s list, as a Friend of Laphroaig, Jim was there to collect his rent a miniature of this grand Malt, also from the photo’s you can see the staff who were very knowledgeable and generous with the tasting drams, another great visit.

On the Committee at Arbeg, Jim made a trip to this beautiful Distillery and enjoyed lunch and a few tastings of this powerful Malt, which even included a dram of the new Committee release, Rollercoaster. Jim’s cabinet now proudly contains 2 bottles.

What can Jim say about Islay and its Distilleries, beaches, hospitality, people, local produce and the world class Single Malts all are MAGNIFICENT.

Jim would recommend anyone who enjoys first class food, beaches and hospitality then head for Islay

You can look under Wife’s Woes and you can read Jacqueline’s story on our first night and a visit to the Loch Indaal hotel.

Thanks to all who we met, we had a great time, and see you all again next year.

Jim and Jacqueline

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