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‘Cheese and Whisky Gang Thegither!’

If you found yourself stood beside a mashtun in a Scotch whisky distillery this summer – and I really hope you did – your be-tartaned guide may have mentioned the final resting place for the fragrant porridge caked at the bottom. With the sugary wort having been piped away to the next stage of the whisky-making process, the remaining ‘draff’ will ultimately nourish Old MacDonald’s coos. NB – if they even hint that bovine intoxication results they are lying: there is no alcohol created during mashing.

A distillery with draff to offload - in this case, Tobermory.

 

I rather like the ancient-seeming and mutually-beneficial relationships at the heart of whisky production, itself an agricultural off-shoot once upon a time. The farmer of yesteryear would grow the barley, malt it, and distil it, diverting any waste products towards the fortification of his livestock. Distillers and farmers may no long amount to the same person, but draff still supplies much-needed nutrition for cattle and sheep raised on farmland neighbouring whisky distilleries.

Mull of Kintyre Extra Mature Cheddar.

A charming press release appeared the other day attesting to the enduring beef/whisky bond: Tobermory have honoured Mull of Kintyre Mature Cheddar, recognised at this year’s British Cheese Awards as the Best Scottish Cheese ahead of 79 other contenders. Produced in the First Milk Campeltown Creamery, it is one leading example of the uniquely sharp and fruity cheese first produced at the Sgriob Ruadh Farm on the island of Mull in the Scottish Hebrides by Jeff Reade. This year’s award was dedicated to Mr Reade, whose legacy is sure to be a heartening one: whereas Scotland could only claim 24 artisan cheese varieties in 1994, today there are 80.

Jeff Reade.

The whisky and cheddar connection is a more tangible one than mere sponsorship alone, however. Tobermory draff historically provided sterling winter feed for Jeff Reade’s cattle and today the Reade family craft a cheese incorporating the peaty portion of Tobermory make, Ledaig. Congratulations to all at the First Milk Campbeltown Creamery, and here’s to the craft producers on Mull generally lovingly nurturing some mightily tasty wares.

Isle of Mull Cheddar’s sharp, yeasty characteristics are said to hail from the unique pungency of draff which impregnates the milk when eaten. However, I’d also like to make mention of whisky and cheese’s delectable compatability even when the dairy cows have been no nearer draff than the moon. In partnership with Svetlana Kukharchuk at St Andrews’ Guid Cheese Shop, we have on two previous occasions allied some of Europe’s most distinctive cheeses with a selection of Scotland’s boldest spirits. Vintage gouda makes a splendid marriage with Bunnahabhain 12yo, and the double cream Chaource combines magically with Auchentoshan 12yo. Indeed, Auchentoshan’s sister distillery, Glen Garioch, actively encourages this pairing with cheeses as a signature serve.

At their most spectaular, taking cheese and whisky together can unleash tertiary flavours neither possessed on their own: the creamy textures can aid in taming the whisky’s alcohol, allowing nutty flavours with overtones of butterscotch or spice to enthral the palate. The golden ticket as far as I am concerned, however, combines blue cheese with peated whiskies. At a more recent tasting, Svetlana’s Gorgonzola Piccante shared a bed with Benromach’s Peat Smoke. The dry smoky malt smoothed out the blue mould piquancy while the soft richness of the cheese’s body lengthened the fruity flavours sublty embedded in the whisky. A triumph!

Take the plunge with some cheese and whisky pairings for yourself. I could use some company on my Gout ward.

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The Plaudits Post

I’m back now, and whilst I may miss my simple, if at times seriously debilitating life on the road, I am in a position to appreciate and marvel at the world of Scotch malt whisky on an entirely separate astral plain. You want to know (I assume) what was good, bad and indifferent, and where you can be guaranteed an unfeasibly large slice of chocolate cake should you be pondering an attempt at something similar (and you really should).

Therefore, this is a plenary post, an awards bash, for what really shouldn’t be missed if you are within 100 miles.

AT THE DISTILLERIES

Drams of the Odyssey

The Glenlivet Nadurra 16YO, 54.2% - Floral, honeyed and teeming with butterscotch and vanilla. A superbly bold Speyside from the more delicate side of the family.

Aberlour 14YO Single Cask First-Fill Bourbon, 63.3% – Full and intensely sweet. Freshly-sawn pine, wood oils, toffee. The malt by which I shall judge all other Bourbon-matured whiskies, and indeed single casks.

Benromach 10YO, 43% – Sweetly heathery, malty and peaty. My kind of whisky.

Ledaig 10YO, 43% – Properly, evocatively peaty. The first heavily peated malt I had tasted since Talisker, and an auspicious herald of the peaty monsters shortly to come.

Laphroaig Quarter Cask, 48% – Awesome. Perfectly assertive oaking, seaweed, smoke and power.

Lagavulin 12YO cask Strength, 57.9% – I was assaulted by this malt. It butted me in the ofrehead then kneed me in the groin. But I loved it. Smoke and sweetness. I need to find this again.

Longrow CV, 46% – Oily, wood smoke. Enormously complex.

Guides of the Odyssey

The Longer Shortlist:

Clare at Royal Lochnagar; Chris at Aberlour; Dagmar at Highland Park.

The Shortlist:

Gavin at Tullibardine – What more can I say about Gavin that I haven’t already? He is one of the most enthusiastic and friendly people I met on my travels. I phoned up the distillery once I returned to research exclusive bottlings in the VC and he remembered me after I mentioned that I had been the boy on a bike. He was brimming with admiration and congratulations, and eager for me to head back to Blackford. I’m just as keen.

Jim at Edradour - For being just a very funny man. His jokes were equally appreciated by the other twenty memebers of my monster tour party. As dry a Scottish sense of humour as you could wish to find.

Fiona at Glen Garioch - Fiona was another guide with an irrepressible sense of humour. Together with Jane, she gave me the much-needed kick up the backside, and in my darker moments thereafter, the thought of being in a position to roll up to Old Meldrum some time in the future and say “I did it,” kept me going.

John at Ben Nevis – It is very difficult to describe where John Carmichael fits in to the architypal breeds of distillery guide. He is  most definitely not the wide-eyed seasonal student; nor the passionate but casual part-timer, nor a member of the production team. He is, however, a complete professional, and a tour with him around the distillery (and he is the head tour guide so chances are good) is not to be missed. He is the second generation to have been in the industry all his days and it shows. His humour (dry), knowledge (supreme) and demeanour (you would think it was his distillery) are all compelling qualities. I learnt more from him about whisky, whisky hospitality and whisky history than from anyone else. It is plain, when he speaks of industry luminaries such as Richard Paterson, that he too enjoys a niche within the inner circle of people whose passion and experience are a good few rungs above everyone else. 

Ruth at Lagavulin - My tour of Lagavulin was perhaps the most relaxed and somehow intimate of my whole odyssey. It was a lovely warm day, the distillery was ticking over nicely and the tour group wasn’t too enormous. Ruth was spectacularly informative and was able to root out a bottle of the 12YO CS, something I’m very grateful for.

Henrik at Glengoyne - Henrik has kept in touch since I met him last month. Another very professional and passionate guide, he took time out of his regular duties to shoot the breeze with me after the tour. He said that he hoped I had enjoyed my tour with the “sweaty Swedish tour guide.” I assured him that these tours were my personal favourites. Michael, the Australian walker I shared a room with in Glasgow, had toured the distillery with Henrik, too, and he praised  his character and performance, as well.

A special mention to Martin at Bladnoch – not technically a tour guide at all but he delivered a top class performance anyway. I don’t think there was a dusty corner of the distillery I didn’t get a glance at. Obviously, his  chauffeuring was an added bonus, but if he does choose to follow his dad into distilling, the future of Bladnoch and distilling in Dumfries and Galloway is in extremely good hands. Thanks again.

And the Winner is…

Robert at Bunnahabhain – As I waxed in my post for the distillery, despite everything that had drained, annoyed and bored me that day, I hung on Robert’s every word. This can’t have been his first tour of the day, but the pride for his plant couldn’t help but shine through so brightly. Hilarious, and with the insight that only comes from actually making the stuff, Robert was by far the best guide of the tour – and he insisted he was “only a stillman.”

Tour of the Odyssey

To win this accolade, it is vital to show the visitor unique insight into the whisky-making process, accommodate them comfortably and stylishly and dram them well. Bowmore, Kilchoman and Springbank would qualify under the first requirement; The Glenlivet and Tullibardine are notably superior exponents of the second, and Aberlour and Glenfiddich are streets ahead in terms of the whisky handed over. There can only be one winner, however.

Highland Park – The emotions triggered when I think back to my visit are wonderful, unique, inexpressible. The location; the unusual logistics of getting there; the typical difficulties with the Scottish weather; the one-to-one tour; the maltings; the spitting, sparking kilns; the warehouses; the video; the beautiful VC; the drams – it was all deeply special.

 Highland Park 2

***

Cafes of the Odyssey

‘The Arch’ in Fettercairn; the wool place on the road between Strathdon and the Lecht Ski resort, ‘Fresh’ in Aberlour; the cafe on the A9 bridge in Helmsdale; ‘Morag’s’ in Wick; the chocolate shop in Tobermory; ‘The Kitchen Garden’ in Oban; ‘The Craft Kitchen’ in Port Charlotte; ‘Fresh Bites’ in Campeltown.

Restaurants of the Odyssey

‘The Ramsay Arms’ in Fettercairn; ‘The Clockhouse’ in Tomintoul; ‘Taste of Speyside’ in Dufftown; ‘Chapter One’ in Forres; ‘The Red Poppy’ in Strathpeffer; ‘The No.1 Bistro at the Mackay Hotel’ in Wick; ‘The Port Charlotte Hotel’ in Port Charlotte.

Locations of the Odyssey – the Best Places to Cycle

Between Gilmerton and Aberfeldy in Perthshire; Angus; Between Forres and Inverness; The North-East coast to John o’Groats; Orkney; Skye; Mull; Arran; Dumfries and Galloway.

Beds of the Odyssey

Stirling Youth Hostel; Pitlochry Youth Hostel; Kishmul B&B in Fettercairn; Argyle Guest House in Tomintoul; Norlaggan B&B in Aberlour; Milton of Grange B&B in Forres; Carbisdale Castle Youth Hostel; Netherby B&B in Wick; The Picturehouse B&B in Ard Dorch, Skye; Inverasdale B&B in Oban; The Carradale Hotel in Carradale; Lochranza Youth Hostel; Glasgow Youth Hostel.

To be Avoided

It would be remiss of me to not warn you of the less rewarding components in the Scotch whisky family.

The Distilleries that Could Do Better

Glenturret (too expensive); Old Pulteney (too expensive and your questions won’t be answered); Oban (never mind too expensive, this is highway robbery); Caol Ila (disinterested guide and not much on show).

***

If you have any questions about anything you have read, or there is anything which you feel I haven’t fully described or made clear, just drop a comment and I’ll do my best to help out. Scotland is an unspeakably beautiful, pleasingly accessible and thrillingly complex country made for exploration, just like the unique spirit it creates.

 

Pagodas, sea, sky and a bike. Just right now I can't think of a more stirring combination.

Pagodas, sea, sky and a bike. Just right now I can't think of a more stirring combination.

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Ard Dorch to Oban

Ard Dorch to Talisker, to Ratagan, 70 miles

If that can't get you up and on the bike, I don't know what can.

If that can't get you up and on the bike, I don't know what can.

Following some very rough calculations with a map and a bit of paper with the scale mile marked on it, I’d deduced that it was about twelve miles further to get to Talisker from my B&B in Ard Dorch than it would have been to get to this iconic distillery from the Glenbrittle hostel. Obviously, the leg taking me from the distillery back to the mainland would be the same as planned. Today would therefore be the longest of the tour to date, and looking at my distances for the remaining weeks, the longest; period. As the above figure shows, it exceeded my projections still further.Skye 4

If there is a more perfect place or time to cycle than the Isle of Skye at around 9AM in early May, please tell me, but I doubt you can come up with one. The traffic was non-existant and the difference this made to my appreciation of the place swelled exponentially. The island felt new, undiscovered. It did not feel mine. Only after visiting Mull a few days later could I put my finger on what it is that Skye does to you. Falling in love with Skye is like Stockholm Syndrome. Skye is the most “there” place I have ever been to, it is so completely, fiercely its own place and it does not care one jot for your problems or concerns. It is aloof, it is punishing, it is capricious. It is not in any way friendly, but it captures your soul. Indeed, this is the only means by which you can truly experience it: you cannot see it or hear about it alone, and this is why the photos you see cannot hope to convey all of Skye’s personality and sorcery. My mum visited the year before at about the same time, and she said the same, although the pictures she took entirely failed to prepare me for it. With the clear, bright sun newly up, and the shoulders and caps of these great cones of ancient volcanic ire shaking off their clouds, to be cycling along at sea level beneath them was an awesome, humbling experience. I actually experienced fear: raw, thrilling fear. You can’t get to know Skye with the help of the conventional five sense. You are bullied into surrendering yourself to its spell because of how it acts on your very being. It’s the only way I can describe it. I sent a text to mum saying essentially: “I don’t know how I’m supposed to leave here.”Skye 5

A little later I simply felt joy. The weather was perfect, the views were jaw-dropping. Only the traffic jams and road works spoiled it somewhat. With these cleared, the sign to Talisker appeared all too quickly. I was having a great time: these Skye miles were simply zooming past.

After making the left turn, you pass a hotel nestled in to the junction. You will also have to stop because you will have just spotted the Cuillins. They truly are like something out of a sci-fi comic book. You wonder how they don’t puncture the earth’s atmosphere, so sharp do they appear. After collecting myself following this far-off encounter, I free-wheeled down a very long, gentle hill, sensing the envy of those passing in cars. The approach to Talisker was a hugely significant one for me, and Carbost itself is worth a visit in its own right. All white-wash and cherry trees gleaming in the spring sunshine while I was there.The Cuillins 2

The tour over I had a super burger in the Old Inn, somewhere I would recommend for sheer informality and local colour. “Very Irish,” said one of the local lasses, “the fire on and the door open.” I had a lovely cheeseburger and then there was nothing for it but to head back to the mainland.

The reverse leg was just as moving, and vanished as quickly. I bought all of the stuff I thought I’d need for Ratagan from the Broadford Co-op, and had to hang around in the car park eating or drinking all the stuff I couldn’t actually fit in my panniers. 46 miles were up, and from the looks of the map I still had a not inconsiderable distance to go.

I felt quite glum as I crossed back on to the mainland. The traffic was giving me hell, though, so I hoped a different route would alleviate those whose journeys were just so vital they had to pass you at 80mph while cars came the other way. I disagree with Iain Banks’ interpretation of the island mentality. I think people get a false sense of liberation, that there actions can’t possibly have any consequences. Well they can for cyclists.

The road to Ratagan was unbearably long. After 50 miles I accepted that 6PM was going to come and go and I’d still be on the road. Apart from the quaint splendour of Eilean Donan Castle, I mostly had to suffer trees, cliff faces and yet more irritable motorists. However, it was sunny and I wasn’t about to knock it. After about 65 miles by lower back felt as if it had lost all structural rigidity. Nevertheless, I had to press on and fuelled by shortbread I eventually came to Loch Duich and what could only be one of the Five Sisters of Kintail. ‘Ratagan’ was written on a road sign, I cried with delight and pulled up at the hostel right on the shore of the loch.

After a mammoth plate of pasta and most of a McVities lemon sponge, I retired to my full 10-bed dorm. I have never felt such pure fatigue. It didn’t matter that the Dutch motorcyclists snored. I’d have slept in a Formula 1 pit lane.

***

Ratagan to Corpach, 61 miles

Isn't that perfect? the bike before Loch Duich and some of the Five Sisters of Kintail.

Isn't that perfect? the bike before Loch Duich and some of the Five Sisters of Kintail.

I has feared this day above all others, prior to having completed the previous day in the style that I did. No distilleries, just a solid 60 miles down the West Coast. If I completed this, I said to myself, the rest of the tour would be a doddle.

The road out of Ratagan towards Invergarry is undoubtedly spectacular. For the first few miles I kept expecting to be seized from above by a golden eagle. After the first few miles, I just felt plain tired. Hitherto, I needed to have covered about 10 miles before I stopped feeling dog tired. It was the break-in period for my legs of a morning. Well these West Coast roads expect you to be on top form from the gun. The road clung to the sides of mountains, then teased the shorelines of lochs. All the while up and down it went, and as the sun attained greater heights, out came the traffic. In the respect of the weather (painfully bright but rather cold), the maddening traffic and the sapping, never-ending road, it was not my happiest morning.

I kept eating and drinking, though, and with a little over 20 miles done I made the turn to Invergarry. It was a joy to actually encounter a junction of some description. I knew that from now on I was unlikely to be unmolested by other, motorised road users. All of the signs had the names of important towns on. The road I had just left had Inverness as its destination, and this one had Fort William at the end of it.

I had lunch half way up a seriously big hill, just in front of the sign welcoming me to Lochaber. Invergarry was still another ten miles away or so.

Another mind-boggling vista, this one near Glen Garry.

Another mind-boggling vista, this one near Glen Garry.

Despite several near-death experiences in the space of a few hundred metres: first with motorcyclists overtaking me on a cattle grid which had a whacking great pothole waiting for me at the end of it, and again when a car overtook me, the driver plainly forgetting he had a caravan hitched to the back, I made it to Invergarry. There isn’t a great deal there. Just a few houses and a hotel in which was a very pretty girl who happily served this grotty, smelly yellow creature without revealing in any way how vile it must have been for her.

Things improved slightly after that, and my ride through the Great Glen was quite spectacular. A reasonable tailwind hurled me towards Fort William. I took the minor road turning to the right, which took me over the Caledonian Canal and brought me out again at Banavie. I was staying with family friends in Corpach, and was relieved to see their road, and finally house number, materialise before me. “130 miles in two days,” I reflected over my cup of tea. I couldn’t stop smiling.

Fortunately I wouldn't be heading up these brutes.

Fortunately I wouldn't be heading up these brutes.

 

***

Corpach to Oban, 52 miles

After a rather vital rest day in Fort William, during which I updated (or to be more correct: sought to alleviate some of the backlog for) this blog like crazy, wandered around Fort William and generally unwound, it was time to be moving on; on towards the isles.

Regrettably, I could not set off as promptly as I wished. Ben Nevis distillery could not accommodate me on one of their morning tours. In fact, they couldn’t squeeze me in until 1PM. This was galling, because 50 miles to Oban is 50 miles, and when I have a distance like that looming I like to at least spread it around lunch. I wasn’t about to miss another distillery, so I booked a spot on the 1PM tour and just accepted that it would be a later night than was ideal.

As you can tell from my review of Ben Nevis, I was glad to have lingered. I bounced and swerved through Fort William onto the south-bound road full of delight at this most immersive and educational of visits, and eager to see whether I would be lucky enough to meet Jim McEwan at Bruichladdich (“If you meet Jim, cancel all plans for the rest of the day,” John warned me), and whether I would encounter Willie at Jura. I was promised that there was nothing this man didn’t know about whisky.

The panorama kept my spirits fairly high, too. Once more I was giddily fortunate with bright sunshine and heat. The views of Loch Linnhe and Argyll slowly coming into shot were magical. The further I went, the more rock could be found protruding from the energetic aquamarine. The islands had technically begun.

Damn, it makes me feel so full of yearning seeing the bike all loaded up like that before those landscapes.

Damn, it makes me feel so full of yearning seeing the bike all loaded up like that before those landscapes.

During my time in Fort William spring had definitely been making unsubtle hints as to its entrance. Now, the trees were in fresh-out-of-the-box leaf, and green was assiduously establishing itself. The best place to have appreciated this reawakening of nature may have been the cycle path, which I would spy running in parallel every so often. I only used it over a couple of stretches, however, because every time it looked as if I could join it from the road, it appeared to head of in the opposite direction to that indicated by the nearest road sign. 

Either way, I arrived in Oban shortly after 7PM. I was struck first of all by its location, within the hills and above the sea, secondly by the amount of people around. Fort William had been busy, too, but I had walked amoungst them. Now I was on a bike again and it was all rather overwhelming. I made it to my B&B by 7.30PM, unhappily discovering that it was some way out of town.

Once again, I had made it to a significant check point. I was in Oban now, so I could not fail to catch that once-a-week sailing from Oban to Port Askaig. Again, I could breathe a sigh of something like relief.

***

Oban to Tobermory and back, 45 miles

With no small amount of trepidation, I headed down to the harbour. I had spied out the ferry terminal the night before and let’s just say it was in impressive contrast to John o’Groats. It looked like a mini airport! I wasn’t at all sure of the protocols involved in getting me and my bike on to the ferry and how much it would cost. In a very short time indeed I was waiting at the head of a queue of cars to board, having paid half the John o’Groats to Orkney fare.

Awaiting the ferry in Oban.

Awaiting the ferry in Oban.

In the passenger lounges, there was a large contingent of Americans, Texans to be precise. I wondered if it was a school trip or a holiday. I suppose for the same reason we head over there they come here: a change of scale.

On Mull I allowed all of the ferry traffic to precede me on to the island and this was a very smart move. If I could recommend an island to cycle on, it would be Mull. Between Craignure and Tobermory there is essentially no traffic at all and until you get to the one seriously malignant hill it is relatively flat and well-surfaced. Much like on Skye, miles flashed past without me really registering them. I found the whole place charming: you could see the mainland at all times and this suggested a fraternity existed between it and Mull. Once you are on Skye heading north, the island seems to turn its back on mainland Scotland, shoving lots of other islands in between.

Mull is a friendly place, and even after the rather nasty hills which begin once you are through Salem, the island seems eager to reward you with views which are nothing less than perfect.

A view into the Sound of Mull, from the top of the only hill you really need to worry about (cyclists and motorists alike) between Craignure and Tobermory.

A view into the Sound of Mull, from the top of the only hill you really need to worry about (cyclists and motorists alike) between Craignure and Tobermory.

Tobermory is quite divine, too. Again, because it is a “proper” island in a transport sense, demanding a b-o-a-t to get there, you sense that it is more preserved than it might be if there were an easy road link nearby. It had everything I needed: a distillery, a superb cafe selling fabulously rich cakes and a Co-op for my day to day nurtrition. I was sad to leave, and didn’t overstrain myself to get back to Craignure in time for the 5PM sailing back to Oban. I made it back anyway, just as the last cars were shuffling down on to the car deck. 

Looking back to Mull.

Looking back to Mull.

I elected to eat the food I had bought in anticipation of having to wait for the 7PM ferry on the rear viewing deck and quite marvellous it was, too. It was hear that I took the picture you can see above. My early return to Oban made dinner arrangements a lot simpler and hassle-free. I ate at a little restaurant called Cuan Mor on the harbour front. So impressed and inspired had I been by the unashamedly, committedly peaty flavours of Ledaig that I asked the waitress for one. They didn’t have it, incredibly, so I had a Caol Ila instead, in anticipation for the following day and its profoundly significant destination.

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Tobermory

The view of the distillery from the benches on the main street.

The view of the distillery from the benches on the main street.

Tobermory, Isle of Mull, Argyllshire, PA75 6NR, 01688 302647. Burn Stewart Distillers. www.tobermorymalt.com

APPEARANCE AND LOCATION:      *****      The distillery is just on your right as you hurtle (if you’re on a bike) over the potholes into Tobermory village. The main street is world famous and it is quite charming. The water in the harbour is clear and the views to the mainland comfortingly close by but still a safe distance. There is a chocolate shop a few yards from the distillery which YOU HAVE TO GO TO.

TOURS PROVIDED:

‘Standard Tour’: £3.50. See ‘My Tour’ below. Book in advance.

DISTILLERY-EXCLUSIVE BOTTLINGS:      N/A

My Tour – 11/05/2010

THE RUNNING COMMENTARY:      ***

THE PROCESS AND EQUIPMENT:      **

Notes:      Tobermory also produces the peated whisky, Ledaig (LAID-chig). For this they use a peated malt from the Port Ellen maltings on Islay at 35 ppm. Production is split 50:50 between these two expressions and they were making Ledaig while I was there. Warehouse space is basically non-existant. Across the road from the distillery are the old warehouses, but these are now flats having been sold off during a financially difficult time in the company’s history. Spirit is now matured at Deanston distillery in the Highlands, then on to Bunnahabhain. However, they do have a teeny tiny warehouse which they keep for the 15YO, so that it might mature for its final period in the place of its birth. Quite right! The washbacks, interestingly, don’t have switchers. They don’t need them, but the devices themselves were stolen some time ago. Who would want to steal switchers?

GENEROSITY:      * (I’m going to give them a star because they do offer you a choice: either the Tobermory 10YO or the Ledaig 10YO.)

VALUE FOR MONEY:      *

SCORE:      6/10 *s

COMMENT:      I really enjoyed this tour. I really enjoyed Mull, actually, and I could consequently forgive the rather humourous brand film, which follows a young couple very much in love exploring Mull, and each others bottom lips. If the camera had stayed with them to their third or fourth Tobermory 15YO, I suspect things might have got rather fruity. From the Sherry casking, obviously… Alison was our guide and what an enthusiastic, welcoming soul. As became a trend for my subsequent distillery tours from this point on, I was one of the few native English-speakers, so she was very anxious to keep the large French contingent involved. She poured out generous measures of the two expressions in the dram room and implored each and every one of us to “enjoy that”. I had a Ledaig and I really did enjoy it. Properly peated malt was an exciting, auspicious flavour for the tours to come.

And looking at the visitor's centre from the maritime exhibition building.

And looking at the visitor's centre from the maritime exhibition building.

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