September 08, 2014

Caol Ila - tranquil, with a touch of TCP! Feis Ile 2014

The still house at Caol Ila offers one of the nicest views on Islay, overlooking the Paps of Jura across the Sound of Islay. The distillery, despite being the biggest producer on the island, has a tranquil feel to it and, even on Caol Ila Day, with large crowds streaming in to the grounds, it still managed to project a laid back feeling. The car park is not very big, so visitors parked in a big field near the village of Keills, and mini-buses shuttled back and forth all day long - a great idea.
The day offered up various whisky tasting experiences - straight up, blind, with food, on the sea, with music, in cocktails, in the warehouse, with the operators. Something for everyone!
Breakfast
We opted for a morning tasting with new Distillery Manager, David Wood. I had met David on my previous trip to Islay, when I had a great visit at Lagavulin, where he was Brand Manager. The tasting was in the old cooperage, which was packed with people keen to taste the collection. Not surprisingly, we bumped into our Swedish friends, unmistakeable in their custom made Hawaiian shirts.
Two of them had been coming to the Feis for five years, each time in an annual custom designed shirt. Peter Sjögren, is Marketing Manager and Partner of Svenska Eldvatten, an independent bottler in Sweden, and a good person to follow on Instagram if you like to drool over photos of rare whiskies.
David started his tasting by passing round some new make spirit, and inviting us to rub it on our hand. The unmistakeable aroma of smoke and that unique Caol Ila medicinal nose was very evident, even from this spirit straight out of the still, and not yet whisky. (Scotch whisky has to mature in oak casks for at least three years before it can be called whisky).
The Caol Ila character comes, in part, from concerto barley, malted, then dried with a peat level of around 39ppm; and a  distillation process involving lots of copper interaction. Maturation is mainly in refill hogsheads, with more emphasis on the spirit than the barrel. Of the 7 million litres produced annually, about 20% goes to malt whisky, the rest to blends. To put these volumes further into perspective, Port Ellen Malting works, also owned by Diageo, produces about 550 tonnes of malt a week, and 350 tonnes of that goes to Caol Ila.
loading the malt into trucks for the distilleries
On to the whiskies. We tasted five,
Caol Ila 12 year old. Possibly one of the most distinctive Single Malt Scotches for my nose. Aromas of TCP (an antiseptic introduced in 1918 and popular in the UK), lemon, lime, smoke, tarry seaspray; smoky and medicinal on the palate, with a long, spicy finish. As David explained, the aim is for un-influential casks to let the whisky character shine through. And it does.
Distillers Edition. Caol Ila finished in Moscatel (fortified Spanish wine) casks, which adds a fruity and mild toffee character, with the smoke kicking in afterwards. A nice combination.
Caol Ila 25 year old. Elegant with age, golden raisins, subdued but evident Caol Ila character, beautifully balanced. I'll take this medicine any day!
Stitchell Reserve. A tribute to Billy Stitchell, who retired after a very long career. (Read about my great tasting day with Billy on a previous visit). 59% ABV, about 15 years old, perfumed nose, beeswax, apple crumble and custard, spice on the palate and a long finish. Slàinte Billy!
David Wood - Caol Ila Distillery Manager
Feis Ile 2014. A 55.5% ABV 12 year old Caol Ila. 1500 bottles produced from four hogsheads. A powerful dram, perfume, peat, slight saltiness and Caol Ila on the nose; big, spicy and balanced. For lovers of strong, straight-up Caol Ila, unadulterated by special casks.
And what's required after all that Caol Ila tasting? Scallops in Caol Ila.
Typically, in my culinary neck of the woods, we eat just the white scallop body, but at the seafood stand set up for the day, they were served with the coral - the orange "tail" - attached to the body. It's not quite as flavoursome, and I didn't love the texture, but "when in Rome"......
The queue, as always during Feis Ile, afforded the opportunity to meet and chat with new folk. Bobby had been an operator for four years and I asked him how he liked the job. "Oh, it's fine" he said, "but it can be lonely work, especially on the night shift". The distillery has a number of sophisticated, computer-controlled automatic processes. Even although Caol Ila is a big producer, it doesn't need a big team to operate all the production equipment. Lonely it might be, but I'm certain that Bobby looks out, now and then, on that great view from the Still house across the Sound and considers himself a lucky fellow.
After lunch, we did some blind tasting to benefit a local charity, then went off to the cocktail bar, where our new acquaintances, Diageo Whisky Ambassadors, Colin Dunn and David Sinclair, were concocting delightful cocktails, using Caol Ila of course.
Some tranquil time by the water, with dram in hand, ended our day, then it was back to the car park/field, where we rescued some stranded tasters, who had missed their ride, and drove them back to Bowmore.
In my next post, I'll be writing about Gartbreck - soon to be Islay's next distillery. If you enjoy these stories, consider signing up for email updates. You'll only receive one when a new story is posted. Just fill in your email address in the box at the top of the blog in the right hand column.

GrapeScot Islay Tour 2015

We'll be visiting Caol Ila for one of our great experiences during the whisky tour to Islay (and Jura) in late August 2015. This will be a small group tour with terrific events at each of the distilleries, an opportunity to meet some wonderful whisky people, great accommodations, transportation, food, cultural activities and some very fine whisky. Hope you can join us!

Slàinte!

September 04, 2014

Bruichladdich rocks!

If there was a wager for the biggest party of Feis Ile, my money would be on Bruichladdich Day. Most Feis Ile Masterclasses, led by notable whisky worthies, allow one or two dozen people to attend. At best count, some 400 people enjoyed Jim McEwan's morning class on Sunday, May 25th. We arrived well before the appointed hour - a happy little journey from Port Charlotte just along the road. All seemed quiet and gentle as we wandered around the back and into warehouse 12, where the event was to take place. The room was packed with long rows of tables, each one filled with six glasses of golden elixir per place setting.
We were definitely not the first to arrive and quickly scouted out a couple of prime spots. I'm 115lbs soaking wet and could barely (no pun intended) ease my way between the tables to the chosen spot near the front. Once there, it was time to settle down and and stay put. We were going nowhere. With about 2400 drams in the room, the air was heady! Language barriers notwithstanding, everyone was getting to know his or her surrounding neighbours, and the room was a veritable global conference.
The rumours started before the announcement. The impressive looking camera crew, already in action, was from CBS 60 minutes, there to film the day for a Fall program.
Sound checks were performed by a couple of very fine folk singers, who performed during the class and the rest of the day. Robin Laing and Norma Munro were wonderful, delivering songs with great passion, including a couple of songs, by Robin, specifically about Bruichladdich - one about Black Art and the other entitled The Whisky Cathedral. The latter, sung later in the morning, had its chorus enhanced by 400 voices, after a few drams........
"In the warehouse at Bruichladdich, I drink therefore I am. A whisky cathedral where angels are singing, in praise of glorious drams".
The restless crowd, anxious for the main man, (a current day rock star-like whisky legend), roared its appreciation when Jim took the stage. Looking dapper, sprightly and happy to be there, he engaged with the crowd from the get-go. Funny, like a stand up comedian, enthusiastic and confident, like a motivational speaker, involved, like an old friend, he had the entire crowd eating out of his hand.
With stories from the past and present, introductions to other distillery folks, and revelations about the whisky selections, Jim McEwan showed, once again, why he is a unique personality in the whisky industry. Bruichladdich General Manager, Duncan McGillivray, retired now after a 40 year career, was up on stage for some well deserved appreciation.
Adam Hannet, Assistant Distillery Manager and Blender, was also in the limelight, introducing one of the whiskies and checking out centre stage, which he'll be inheriting from Jim.
On to the whiskies - some of which were glorious.....
The first one was distilled in 1984 and matured in a bourbon cask. This was one of the most brilliant whiskies I have ever tasted. I'm not going to do it the disservice of breaking it down into minute elements. It was aromatic, with some vanilla and ginger, elegant, smooth, beautifully balanced, full bodied, reminiscent of crème brûlé. Outstanding. 49.3% ABV after 30 years in the cask.
Jim called number two "Sorcery". It wasn't released, but had been pulled from the cask just for the class, 51% ABV, cask and age not revealed - Madeira, cognac, PX - a mystery! It was beautiful. Jim decided that the colour was Serengeti Sunset. Dried fruits. Luscious. Excellent.
The third one was from a 1986 distillation, matured in a PX sherry cask. Deep amber in colour with a mature sherry character, rich fruit, Christmas cake, oily, smooth and sweet, with a spicy finish. Fabulous.
It wasn't yet noon and we had tasted three brilliant single cask old gems.
Things went a little sour for me on the next one. It was a 2001 Port Charlotte rarity, matured in a Chateau d'Yquem (Sauternes) cask. Either I had a bad glass or a rotten part of the barrel or something, but this one seemed unbalanced, musty, and unappealing. I sniffed some others around and they were all a bit off. Not sure what happened there. Moving on.
Next up was the brilliantly unique Octomore 1695, quadruple distilled festival bottle. Historical records show that the first (and possibly the last) time any whisky was distilled four times was in 1695. At 69.4% ABV, this one packed a mighty punch. A very peaty nose gave way to a smooth, but fiery, whisky on the palate, with a very long, smoky, spicy, smoky again, finish. A bit of water brought out more smoke and a vegetal flavour. This was a really interesting and historically fascinating whisky. I'm sure it was gone by the end of the day.
I have little recollection about the 6th whisky. We were well over time - not that anyone minded - and were invited to raise our last dram and our country flags then join the big procession over to the main courtyard, where the gates had now been opened and hundreds more had arrived to enjoy the dramming bar, cocktails, Islay Ales, food stalls, arts and crafts, pipe bands, dancing, singing, rock music and folk music. This was a party!
Some new friends suggested that we try out an amazing buffet for lunch, a fundraiser for a local charity. It was magnificent! I spoke to one of the photographers, who had just returned from a  particularly war-weary, hostile part of the globe. Bruichladdich Day was providing a welcome change of perspective. We met up with family, enjoyed some more entertainment, then decided to head back to the cottage. With a few whisky vouchers still in hand, we opted to give them to some Danish guys. We couldn't find any Canadians and the Danish flag was red and white. Logical, no? Turned out these were the same folk who had arrived one short at Lagavulin the previous day, enabling us to snag a spot for Georgie's Masterclass. What goes around, comes around.
Click here if you'd like to read my previous post about Bruichladdich. 
Next, I'll be writing about Caol Ila Day. If you enjoy these stories, consider signing up for email updates. You'll only receive one when a new story is posted. Just fill in your email address in the box at the top of the blog in the right hand column.

GrapeScot Islay Tour 2015

We'll be visiting Bruichladdich for one of our great experiences during the whisky tour to Islay (and Jura) in late August 2015. This will be a small group tour with terrific events at each of the distilleries, an opportunity to meet some wonderful whisky people, great accommodations, transportation, food, cultural activities and some very fine whisky. Hope you can join us!

Slainte!



September 02, 2014

Domaine Perrault - a little Ottawa area winery with big personality

For a really nice Ottawa area outing, set  the GPS to 1000 Perrault Road, Navan, home of the delightful Domaine Perrault Winery.
The winery started up in 1999, and now has six acres of vines and about 6000 plants. Although grapes are brought in from Niagara to produce some of the more traditional, familiar wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Malbec, and red blends, it is the interesting range of cold climate varietals groomed to handle Ottawa winters, that produce some very tasty and interesting wines at Perrault.
When I visited about seven years ago, shortly after the wine retail store opened, I left with one bottle of wine. This weekend, I left with ten, and almost none were made from "common or garden" varietals. Grape varietals like Frontenac Gris, Louise Swanson, Marquette, Saint Pepin and others have been craftily grown and tested, and some are offered as straight varietal wines, allowing unique opportunities to taste something different from the norm. The winemaker behind all this magic is Bernard Martineau, an oenologist with 40 years of experience.
There are 14 or 15  wines available for tasting - pretty much the entire collection and, here's the thing. There's no fee for tasting, and no requirement - implied or otherwise - to buy any of the wines. Instead, there's a delightful atmosphere in the little tasting room, kind of like dropping in to visit some friends. I would bet money that no-one leaves that place without buying something, especially since the wines are eminently affordable. Perfect marketing, perfect customer service.
Julie Ricard is the super-friendly, knowledgeable, competent  sommelier/host/Jill of all trades who runs the visitor centre, pours the wine, delivers the wine-speak, handles group events, liaises with the outside world and, in short, seems invaluable. It was super busy when we were there, and although Julie seemed highly capable of juggling multiple balls and knowing who needed to taste what next, Denis Perrault, ("I'm just the owner") was helping out and pretty much manning the cash register the whole time - a comforting job for an owner of a small Domaine!
We took a quick look around the winery - a tiny, wee, climate controlled, multi-purpose building that leaves you shaking your head wondering how they can produce 23,000 bottles a year. But they do, and most of that is sold at the winery.
Some personal favourites.............
Zanibel - An off dry white with delicious aromas and flavours of fresh pears and other tree fruits, perfectly balanced with the right amount of acidity to balance the slight sweetness. $14
Gabrielle - a dry, medium bodied red made with the Marquette grape; aromas and flavours of ripe red fruit and  toffee cooking on the stove; unusual and delicious; nicely balanced, good for sipping in these dog days of summer, and a good food wine. $16
Marilys - a rich, fruity rosé, strawberry jam and a bit of that same toffee I detected in the Gabrielle. Perhaps I was just having a  toffee day! In any event, lovely nose and flavours, a full bodied rosé, versatile $15
Go visit Perrault. You won't be disappointed and I'm certain you won't leave empty-handed. Groups are also welcome for special occasion tastings at very affordable prices.

Cheers! 


August 27, 2014

GrapeScot Islay Whisky Tour, Scotland, August 23rd to 30th 2015



Islay and tour overview

Islay is a beautiful Hebridean island off the west coast of Scotland, and one of five official Whisky regions of Scotland (the others are Highland, Lowland, Speyside and Campbeltown). Just over 600 square kilometres in size, it is nevertheless home to 8 working distilleries - Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Bowmore, Caol Ila, Bruichladdich, Kilchoman and Bunnahabhain. Construction starts this year on Gartbreck, Islay’s newest distillery. Bowmore (1779) is Islay’s oldest distillery. Ardbeg and Laphroaig both celebrate their bi-centenaries in 2015. The island has a rich history, diverse landscapes, and a friendly population of about 3000 residents, augmented by some 60,000 annual visitors. There are no big highways and no malls; road trips are often slowed down by sheep. It is a wonderful, marvellous place that all whisky lovers should visit. It will touch your heart.
Our 2015 Islay tour will include wonderful tastings and experiences at each of the distilleries, including a trip to the neighbouring island of Jura to visit that distillery. Jura, larger geographically than Islay, is home to about 200 people and 7000 deer! Time and weather permitting, we will also visit a number of important sites, including the 8th century Kildalton Cross, Finlaggan –  an important meeting place for the Lords of the Isles, the pristine beaches of Machir Bay, and the Mull of Oa for a beautiful walk, and cliffs that fall 200 metres to the sea. We’ll stay in a fine establishment, enjoy some of Islay’s best food, and meet some wonderful, iconic whisky people. In late August, we can expect highs and lows of 15C and 10C.
Our home for the week will be in the town of Bowmore, Islay’s centrally located capital. With a population of around 900, it’s home to Bowmore Distillery, a number of restaurants, pubs and cafés, the island swimming pool, and some great little shops and historic sites. We will stay at The Bowmore House, where we will enjoy comfortable accommodations, great breakfasts and Islay hospitality.

Itinerary

Sunday 23rd August 2015

The 8 day, small group tour will start in Glasgow. There are various routings from Ottawa to Glasgow, and starting the tour there allows participants to join from anywhere. From Canada, you can recover from jet lag, or explore other parts of Scotland, elsewhere in the UK, or the rest of Europe, before or after the Islay Tour. The Edinburgh Festival takes place in August and some might wish to take in a few events.

In Glasgow we will board our mini coach for the week around 9am to enjoy the journey to Kennacraig, where we’ll catch the 1pm ferry to Port Askaig in the North East of Islay. The 2hr ferry crossing offers wonderful views of the Paps of Jura and Caol Ila Distillery. From Port Askaig, we head south west across the island to centrally located Bowmore, the capital of Islay, where we’ll be based for the week. We’ll arrive around 4pm, leaving you time to settle in or explore the town, before a group dinner in Bowmore.

Accommodation will be at The Bowmore House, where we’ll enjoy comfortable rooms, wonderful breakfasts and great hospitality. The Bowmore House is the #1 guest house on Trip Advisor.

Monday24th August 2015

 Bruichladdich Distillery – We’ll start our whisky week with a custom tour and warehouse tasting
Lunch at Kilchoman Café
Kilchoman - custom Manager’s tour with a range of Kilchoman drams
Visit beautiful Machir Bay on the west coast of Islay
Return to Bowmore
Free evening

Tuesday25th August 2015

Bunnahabhain Distillery – a custom tour with Distillery Manager Andrew Brown, and a number of exceptional Bunnahabhain drams
Ferry and bus to Jura Distillery, Craighouse
Lunch (not included) available at The Antlers or The Jura Hotel Restaurant, both beside the Distillery. (Ferry schedules might necessitate a packed lunch)
Jura Distillery – for a custom tour and tasting of Jura’s wide range of whiskies
Return to Islay, Dinner at The Bridgend Hotel 

Wednesday26th August 2015

Bowmore Distillery –the very special Craftsman’s Tour
Lunch (not included) in Bowmore
Visit to Gartbreck Distillery, possibly in production by 8/15
Visit to the beautiful Mull of Oa, and 1 ½ hr hike
Return to Bowmore
Free evening

Thursday27th August 2015

Caol Ila – Custom tasting and whisky and chocolate pairing
Lunch (not included) in Port Askaig
Visit to Finlaggan
Return to Bowmore
Dinner at Yan’s in Port Charlotte

Friday28th August 2015

Lagavulin – Warehouse and tasting experience
Mini bus or walk (optional) to Port Ellen
Lunch (not included) in Port Ellen
Port Ellen Malting Works and/or visit Kildalton Cross
Dinner at Islay Hotel in Port Ellen  

Saturday29th August 2015

Laphroaig Distillery - in depth tour, warehouse & cask tasting, bottle from your favourite cask
Lunch  at The Old Kiln Café at Ardbeg Distillery
Ardbeg Distillery – a special experience with rare dram tastings from several decades
A very special evening at The Bowmore House with dinner, and whisky pairings by Martine Nouet, one of the world’s leading authorities on food and whisky.

Sunday 30th August 2015

Our final day. Breakfast, mini coach to Port Ellen for the 1pm ferry back to Kennacraig, and onwards to Glasgow.
From the southern ferry, and weather permitting, spectacular views of Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Laphroaig can be seen.

Tour Price (Canadian Dollars)

Based on double occupancy, $4200 per person
Single supplement $600

The tour price includes

  • Accommodations for 7 nights at The Bowmore House, rated #1 on Trip Advisor.
  • 5 dinners (3 courses, 2 glasses of wine) in some of Islay’s best restaurants, to which some special guests will be invited.
  • 7 wonderful Scottish breakfasts at our home for the week.
  • 2 lunches at both of Islay’s famous distillery cafés – Kilchoman and Ardbeg.
  • Exceptional customized distillery and whisky experiences at 9 distilleries.
  • Cultural/walking outings to Kildalton, Mull of Oa, Finlaggan, Machir Bay, and more as time permits.
  • All ground transportation, in a comfortable mini coach, with a professional, local Islay driver, from and to Glasgow, and on the island for the organized part of the tour, i.e. most of the week. On the 2 free evenings, there are many dining establishments in Bowmore and numerous taxi companies, should you wish to travel to one of several other towns for dinner.
  • All ferry costs to and from Islay.
  • All taxes and gratuities.
  • Travel agency fee.
  • Carol, born and raised in Scotland, Ottawa based independent whisky ambassador and Islay lover, accompanying the group to guide, translate, facilitate, talk whisky and extol the virtues of Islay.

Not included in the price

  • Air fare
  • Transfers pre and post tour
  • Travel insurance, cancellation and medical insurance

Reservations, cancellations and refunds

  • GrapeScot is pleased to be partnering with TravelOnly, an exceptional Canadian travel agency, which will manage all sales, registrations and payments, and assist participants with any other trip related travel requirements. Mary Lynn Villeneuve, ACC, Travel Consultant, will be happy to assist you with all your travel needs. +1.613.924.1404 mvilleneuve@travelonly.com TICO #4316071
  • A deposit of $500 per person is required to reserve a place on the tour.
  • Final payment of the remaining balance is due by 75 days before departure.
  • Cancellations made before final payment is due are liable to a forfeit of the entire deposit of $500 per person
  • Cancellations made between 75 days and 45 days before departure are liable to a further charge of $1500 per person.
  • Refunds cannot be made to any passenger who cancels after 45 days before departure or to any passenger who does not complete the tour for any reason.
·         The above itinerary is as planned, however we reserve the right to make adjustments depending upon weather, distillery schedule changes, ferry time changes, and other constraints.

GrapeScot articles on Islay and the distilleries

Islay   Bowmore   Lagavulin   Ardbeg   Bruichladdich  Caol Ila   Laphroaig   Bunnahabhain   Kilchoman  Jura   Feis Ile 2014   Ardbeg at Feis Ile  Laphroaig at Feis Ile  Bunnahabhain at Feis Ile  Lagavulin at Feis Ile  Caol Ila at Feis Ile  Bruichladdich at Feis Ile

Coming soon – Gartbreck Distillery and the Kentucky Bourbon Festival on the blog

Slàinte! 

August 26, 2014

Jura Tastival - enjoy the journey, savour the taste!

A crow could fly from Glasgow to Jura in no time. It's about 60 miles away. For whisky loving mortals, it takes a wee bit longer and involves a nice little five minute ferry ride across the Sound of Islay, followed by a 20 minute journey along "the" road to Craighouse, where Jura Distillery is located.
Jura is larger than Islay, but has a population of only about 200 people, and around 6000 deer. Indeed Jura is Norse for deer island.
Time passes slowly on Jura
Purportedly, whisky has been made on Jura since the early 16th century and the present distillery was established in 1810. After a closure of over forty years, it was reopened in 1963 as part of a plan to revitalize the island, as the population had dropped to about 150. Now a thriving distillery, with a great selection of whisky tourist events, four large, tall stills, and a wide selection of expressions, Jura Distillery is very much back in action.
With close proximity to Islay, it makes perfect sense to offer up a special Jura Day during Feis Ile week, with free shuttles, a complimentary tasting bar, free guided tours of the distillery, and a range of tasting experiences including Whisky on the Waves, Dramming in the Dark with Master Distiller, Richard Paterson, and the Jura Tastival event, a multi sensory experience, which was both innovative and delicious.  The tasting bar was generously set up with six fine Jura expressions, all complimentary, all day long. On the Tastival menu, as it was dubbed, were the 10 year old Original, Turas-Mara (the Duty Free offering), the delicious 2014 Festival bottling, Duirachs own 16 year old, Superstition and Elixir. Tasters were invited to explore the whiskies, create their own tasting notes, post them on boards around the tasting room and tweet them using #JuraTastival.
This was a great collection to explore.
10yo 40%ABV, ex Bourbon casks. Citrus fruit, honey, cloves, hint of smoke, nice!
Turas-Mara 42%ABV, matured in casks from different geographical regions to reflect the Turas-Mara (long journey) story. Creamy vanilla, honey, cherries, dried fruit, very nice!
Tastival 2014 Festival Bottle 44%ABV, matured in seven different oak finishes. Rich and bursting with aromas and flavours. Delicious for me. A bottle is now in my collection.
Duirachs own 16 year old 40%ABV, matured in sherry and bourbon casks. Herbal aspects on the nose with aniseed, dried fruits and toffee; marmalade and spicy to taste; long, tasty finish. A classic.
Superstition 43%ABV, NAE but likely 8 or 9 years old, mixture of peated and unpeated whiskies matured in bourbon casks. Youthful, light smoke, heather honey, spice. Currently one of three available at LCBO (plus 21year old and Elixir) $60
Elixir 12 yo, 40%, matured in bourbon and sherry casks. Fruity and spicy. $60 at LCBO
We spent quite a bit of time at the Tasting Bar, wandering around the distillery and enjoying its prime location on the water, and generally drinking in the atmosphere. My non whisky drinking sister was starting to reckon that she could quite like this "stuff". It was time for lunch at The Antlers Restaurant, just up the road - a fine little place with a great selection of well prepared, homemade food. Mine involved Cullen Skink and a venison burger. Yum!
After lunch, it was back to Jura for our afternoon session with Ambassadors, Graham and Anthony. With friendly enthusiasm, knowledge, and an obvious passion for the job, they led us through a "multi sensory adventure" comprising a tasting of four expressions, with some well selected items to nose and taste, and a beautiful artistic video presentation, all intended to assail the senses and evoke favourable memories to accompany the drams.
With a special festival beer, cold brewed coffee, amazing chocolates, seaweed crisps, a layered dessert and several other interesting morsels, we experienced our way through Origin, Duirachs Own, Prophecy and Superstition. It mattered not a whit that we had already tasted them at the bar. It was all delightful!
Next up we toured the Distillery, sniffed around the washback, had a look in a warehouse, and heard about the distillery history and production processes. Then it was off to the shop to pick up some bottles, where I was delighted to catch up with Rachel MacNeill, she of Wild and Magic and Whisky for Girls, who's now also the very capable Visitor Centre Manager, with all kinds of great plans for future activities.
With yet another dram in hand, we four (me, my husband, sis, bro-in-law) queued up for the next shuttle back to the ferry, and the drive back to Port Charlotte (courtesy of the dd for the day).
You know you're on a wee Jura to Islay ferry during Feis Ile when you see this kind of sign.
The car was custom designed for carrying a dram back for my other bro', the culinary king who was back in the cottage cooking up a delicious post tasting dinner.

GrapeScot Islay and Jura Tour 2015

We'll be visiting Jura Distillery for a great experience during the whisky tour to Islay (and Jura) in late August 2015. This will be a small group experience with terrific events at each of the distilleries, an opportunity to meet some wonderful whisky people, great accommodations, transportation, food, cultural activities and some very fine whisky. To find out more, please drop me a line and I'll send you the itinerary and details.

Next post - Bruichladdich Day at Feis Ile 2014

The next post will be about Bruichladdich. Check back soon or, better still, sign up above for email updates. You'll only receive an email when a new story is posted.

Slàinte!