Isle of Islay Trip 2022
Just returned from Islay (Thursday 7th July) after a great five days. Jacqueline and I stayed with Nicola and her family at the Temperance House, luxury accommodation in Port Charlotte, a great house with very high standards of cleanliness/equipment and has all you need for a self-catering break, including an Aga in the kitchen.
Do you think the name Temperance is appropriate for The Whisky Boys? The coffee table in the main living area was straining under the weight of bottles of Whisky, Gin, Vodka, wine and other bottles to complete many cocktails.
Some of our highlights were the lawn bowls at Bridgend, lunch at The Machrie and a drive down to Portnahaven to see and hear the seals.
However, the biggest highlight of our week on Islay was a trip to The Seafood Shack in Port Ellen where we purchased two live lobsters and 30 to 35 live langoustines. All taken back to Port Charlotte. The shellfish were prepared and cooked and sliced/diced, A light sauce made of butter and garlic was put through spaghetti and was added to the pasta. The result was fantastic, with restaurant quality and not a morsel left. Best meal on Islay this trip.
But of course, a trip to Islay for The Whisky Boys would not be complete if many distilleries were not visited.
Our first on the list was Bunnahabhain to see their new visitor centre. I was a little disappointed as it was a stand-alone building and not an integral part of the distillery, but that is only my opinion, but saying that it still had a wide selection of good quality merchandise and an excellent selection of their whisky range. It has to be said that the view from the visitor centre was exceptional giving an uninterrupted view of Jura and the Paps which cannot stop you smiling from the inside out.
Next was Ardnahoe, the newest distillery on Islay. Outstanding visitor centre displaying many of Hunter Laing & Co bottlings from their very extensive range of bottlings. The range of merchandise available was exceptionally attractive and of very good quality. The bottle that caught my eye was the Journey Series. Comprising Islay, Campbeltown, Highland and Hebridean blended malt Scotch Whiskies. I will provide full tasting notes on the Journey Series shortly, so keep an eye out for this.
Nicola and I tasted the Campbeltown and the Hebridean bottlings and for only £35.00 each, they are of an exceptional standard.
Our next distillery was Bruichladdich for a warehouse tasting. In warehouse 6 Callum, our distillery host, had set out the chairs and water. Callum is an engaging, enthusiastic and knowledgeable chap, well versed in all things Bruichladdich. He guided us through the tastings with humour and his pours were quite generous. The tasting comprised of three drams, a Bruichladdich 2004 which came from a barrel that held Whisky made from the first ever harvest of Islay barley, this was followed by a 2012 Port Charlotte also using Islay barley (My favourite) and we finished with an Octomore 2008 which had the last two years of maturation in an Amarone Barrel and had a peat level of approx. 120 parts per million. Fabulous.
A tasting is so much more enjoyable when you have an enthusiastic and knowledgeable host. A fun-filled and educational tasting with three great drams was had by all, well done Callum you are an asset to the Bruichladdich Team.
On Monday we travelled round to Ardbeg only to find that it was closed on Mondays. Laphroaig was open and very busy; we managed to collect our rent and even got a couple of samples of the Cairdeas Feis Ile 2022 Single Malt. It is a real asset for the visitor centre now to offer the purchase of whisky flights so that their wonderful produce can be sampled without having to buy a bottle and hope that it is to your palate.
Lastly, Jacqueline and I just before we got the ferry back to the mainland popped into Bowmore Distillery. As I was driving I could not participate in a wee taste but we were kindly given a sample of the Bowmore 12 Year Old which I thought was a kind gesture.
On the way to Port Askaig for the ferry, we tried to call into Caol Ila (to my great disappointment) as it is still under a modernisation programme which we should have realised as we had met up in a local hostelry with some of the mainland contractors working there. I guess that means I just have to return when they are back open.
A great trip to Islay, great to meet old friends and enjoy some grand drams.