Islay, the southern most island in the Inner Hebrides, was terrific in late January-early February 2011. Patrick, our son, and I especially liked touring Islay on the local bus, rather than renting a car, as we had more than one sample at each distillery. Because Patrick and I were the only folks on these whisky tours, and they knew we were not driving, we had four or five wee drams at most distilleries. Our favourite distillery tour was Laphroaig (they still do floor malting), closely followed by Bruichladdich* (locally owned and using barley grown on Islay and even bottled on site), Lagavulin* (lovely dramming room), Bunnahabhain (now owned by the Trinidad government - we spoke with the stillman), Ardbeg (the room their cafe is in is absolutely stunning) and Bowmore (handy to the excellent Harbour Inn). Caol Ila (mass production across the Sound of Islay from Jura) and the rather new Kichoman distillery were closed. Patrick asked Mary at Bruichladdich how much water she added to her whisky? “A wee tear”, she said. * Purchased a bottle. At Bruichladdich you can fill your own bottle from a cask. I did it, great fun!

We got a direct flight overnight to Glasgow. There's a shuttle every ten minutes from the airport to downtown Glasgow for a few pounds (tickets at the airport). At the bus terminal we checked our bags and headed out for lunch. Our bus down the Kintyre Peninsula left at 2:00 p.m. from the massive Glasgow bus terminal…be certain you find the right bus (£19 or $30 per person one way - we flew back). I was an most enjoyable four-hour ride to Kennacraig from where we caught the CalMac ferry to Islay (£7). Unfortunately, by the time we got on the ferry it was dark, so we headed up to the bar on deck 3 for some wee drams and a Guinness.

This was when we, seasoned travellers (Patrick was in 19 different countries last year), made our only mistake. From the ferry terminal on Islay there is no bus service after hours (5:00 p.m.). There's no taxi either, unless you know to order one down from Bowmore in advance. We didn't. Fortunately another person had. We offered to pay for the cab and the tip if she'd let us join her. She did…nice polite Canadians…we were. The Harbour Inn in Bowmore is right down town and on the water. And Bowmore is in the centre of Islay so you can go in a different direction for three days and then repeat. The meals at the Harbour Inn were superb. Off season there is a 40% discount on most accomadation on Islay, so it was $130 Canadian each for the room, breakfast and dinner with free WiFi which worked in the lounge.

islay.txt · Last modified: 2012/01/23 20:46 by tom
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