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A trip to the holy land 2008 (Read 3570 times)
Ard-Begbie
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A trip to the holy land 2008
12. Oct 2008 at 15:51
 
For all those who have trouble understanding finnish, here is something to read in english. The story is similar to the one I wrote in finnish but something extra(or different) is probably here. If you wanna see some pictures from the trip then choose Muu Keskustelu from the first page of the forum and find Skotlannin reissu 2008 kuvina.

Like I told many weeks ago, we were planning a trip to Scotland. I promised to write a little story of the trip and now is time to keep that promise. Two weeks in the promised land(22nd August - 5th September) is a heck of a way to spend a holiday for a whisky-lunatic. Wink

The trip began with a night-flight from Tampere to London. At midnight in the center of London. Pretty confusing but we made it to the hostel. After a day in London we had to take a night bus to Glasgow. I have nothing against England but now that we're in Scotland the feeling is getting a little more excited. The home of perfect whisky (no offence to Irish people). It didn't take too long to discover how beautiful the country is, inhabited by friendly people with whom I, as a citizen of small scandinavian remote(once oppressed) country, instandly felt somekind of mystical similarity. And we had seen nothing yet! Next morning we were on our way to Islay. A Bus from Glasgow to Kennacraig went through the most beautiful views ever. From Loch Lomond on the route to Inveraray will stop even the blackest heart of blended-whisky sales-man. This is living! In Inveraray I missed the Loch Fyne Whiskies....but we'll dance again(when we return the same way..I hope). On the ferry to Islay we realized the sun is actually shining! Could this be our day? Clean sea air and the paps of Jura on a clear day are a wonderful combination. We had a car waiting at harbour and while driving towards Bowmore-village to our hotel, the Loch Indaal, actually a bay, opened before our eyes. The magical, mystical, easy-going, friendly athmosphere took over. After dropping our things to the Bowmore hotel(run by very nice but weird Peter) we took a road trip to Port Charlotte and Portnahaven and from there on driving a little magical road back to Port Charlotte. A few miles from Portnahaven there was the most beautiful views ever in this life! Well.. you know if you've been there. Paradise lost?! No way! Then back to Bowmore to enjoy a nice meal and to get familiar with the hotels whisky menu. The sentiment of the village and especially the hotel was like from the movie Wicker man. Of course without anything evil going on. A fairy tale. And the selection of malts and the mood at the Lochside hotel were great. A little bit too great ( if you know what I mean) Smiley. You darn Danish, scandinavian accomplices!
Next morning we took ourselves to the distilleries. First at Coal Ila. You cannot feel your self anything but welcome( in every distillery). We had a tour there and drank some 25y.o, CS, 18y.o. Very nice place. I don't want to go into the details of every distillery. The paps were of course majestic. Go see for your self. It's worth it. I am more about the athmosphere. Then a quick stop at Bunnahabhain. A lovely distillery. The visitor centre was empty, but the lady at the shop was made of honey. She had a cute way of making you feel like the ampassador. Maybe because they don't get so many visitors. What a humble person. . But after that....
....we had a couple of drinks before entering the Bowmore distillery. To honour the village we had a craftman's tour led by the manager himself. He showed us everything related to whisky-making and after that we entered the Vaults(warehouse no.1). The only warehouse we got to see...and we took the most of it. First a 13y.o sherry cask. What a whisky! Manager's words: ”If you have ever tasted better whisky, I will retire.” Well it's your life. Have you ever tasted Ardbeg Ten? Ok.. enough the humour. It was a beautiful whisky. We also tasted a similar bourbon cask and bordeaux cask. Delicious!
After night we drove down to the Kildalton distilleries. First stop at Lagavulin's. Very charming place. Standard tour but the tour guide was nothing like standard. The Islay's beauty Ruth. No more about her...I don't want to break my heart again...for the same girl...twise within a month. At the visitor centre we tasted DE,12y.o CS, 16y.o. Then we entered the Laproaig's. Palm trees? Too much malts I guess. All the distilleries are legendary but this is one of the most. Extremely cosy and classy. Tour guide could have been more enthusiastic but at least we saw the kiln in action. The malt floors also had all the attension they needed. And then...
...to my favourite distillery in the world...so far! The Ardbeg. I couldn't help feeling a little stimulated. Finally I am actually here. Sadly the manager is on vacation and even after many applies to stop his holiday and return the distillery and guide me to the warehouses for '74 sherry butts...nothing happens. So we had to settle for regular tour by Lindsay(a girl from Kiln cafè) and it was a nice, unique tour. Some history and not just explainig what grist and peat are. After a heart breaking story how I finally got my Corryvreckan but haven't been brave enough to open it yet, she promised that I could have a taste(and if I don't like it I can sell it on e-bay for 200 euros and she and I can flee to mexico). But my stomach had to mess with me that day so we had to leave earlier and the woman of my life stayed there. What happened to Ruth?! We also drove down to the Kildalton cross and the view to the mountains is breathtaking. And the cross? Well...just an old cross..in a very spooky place. I don't want to be there when it's dark. And the Kildalton road? It's not just a road. Try it and you'll know.
When we woke up it was time leave Islay. There is still some hunger for more islay-time. Feeling little sad we drove to Port ellen harbour and seeing the Distillery itself with tears in my soul. There was like a big chunk of meat in my stomach, partly because I was feeling a little bit sick, but mainly because goodbyes are always difficult to me when leaving a place that contains lots of whisky. And friendly whisky-related people. See you some day!
On a way from Kennacraig to Edinburgh we stop for 20 minutes in Inveraray and I had my chance to visit Loch Fyne Whiskies. Well...only two Broras on a shelf so I had to go for the better one: Chieftain's 24y.o cream sherry cask. And then to Edinburgh. There we stayed for six days visiting whisky shops, relaxing, eating good scottish food, drinking whisky, taking couple of bus-trips to north and north-west. And a final visit to a distillery: Glenturret. Maybe a tourist hell but worth visiting(even though I had my over-whelming share of the famous grouse). A nice distillery
and very entertaining athmosphere. The bar and the bartender were great. On the last day we met two great guys in a pub in Edinburgh(nice place just behind the castle). Bobby and Andy. A scott and an English man. A cat and a dog. A Sweadish man and a Finnish man. We had a FEW drinks and had some lovely time. That was a natural north europian get-together. We all liked malt in every form and the memory of that afternoon will last forever. Slainte Guys!
Then back to London. Not much power left to feel enthusiastic about the City. But we had to see The whisky exchange. Ok Place but the sales-man was too busy eating his lunch(friendly anyhow) and because the bank-end store doesn't send whiskies by mail, we didn't get too happy about the places and left shortly. And now we just have the flight back to Finland...and The world of whisky at Stanstead of course.
Scotland's "spirit" and down to earth-athmosphere are something that will take me back there one day. You won my heart. You have a very beautiful country that is worth taking care of.

Cheers!
Begbie



Ps: These are the whiskies I brought home:

Brora 24y.o Cream sherry cask 46% (Chieftain's)
Port Ellen Old malt cask 23y.o bourbon cask for
Islay whisky shop
Ardbeg 13y.o 58% bourbon, one of 300 Authentic
collection (Cadenhead's)
Highland Park 21y.o 47,5% exclusively for travel
retail
Lagavulin 12y.o 56,4% 2007

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POP
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Re: A trip to the holy land 2008
Reply #1 - 12. Oct 2008 at 17:56
 
Ardbeg 1974 sherry butts??
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Ard-Begbie
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Re: A trip to the holy land 2008
Reply #2 - 14. Oct 2008 at 17:16
 
POP wrote on 12. Oct 2008 at 17:56:
Ardbeg 1974 sherry butts??

Well not necessarily true...but the story anyway was meant to be a little bit weird and not so much for the fact-files. I didn't know there is no '74 sherry butts...but are you sure that there is none...even  in the darkest corners of the warehouses...ha?! Wink
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