Now this is getting silly – I only brought two pairs of shorts and this is the 4th day I’m in them. Still, the weather is meant to turn tomorrow and then I’ll be complaining about how cold it is. Today was a lovely day and maybe even a touch hotter than yesterday.
Our first and relatively early event was a whisky walk at Laphroaig. We were met by John outside warehouse 1 and advised to find some wellies. It soon became apparent why as what followed was probably the most fun tour we’ll do this week. We began with the Laphroaig 10, walked into the water and enjoyed it there – some brave souls even took their boots off! We were the led to the malting floor – only Laphroaig and Bowmore still have a malting floor on Islay so it was fascinating and a new experience to see it. The next dram, the Cairdeas Origin, was hidden in the barley. We all took our shoes off this time and walked through the barley until we found it! Very interactive and utterly fabulous! We then went to the peat store and enjoyed the new travel retail PX bottle. This has a very smoky nose but is balanced superbly by the 2-3 years it has spent with the sherried wood. Our final experience was a dram of the cask strength 10 year old. This is now in its 4th batch and we experienced it in the pitch black at the back of warehouse 2. We’re back at Laphroaig for a final time on Friday for a different experience – an Abba tribute night and we’re assured that there will be more whisky or offer.
Next up – Ardbeg. We booked onto an old and new tour and Dougie led us round for a fascinating tour of how Ardbeg has changed over the years to the company it is today. It was made even more interesting through the childhood anecdotes that he threw in having grow up within sight of the distillery. A tasting in the chairman’s office then followed and we’ll just pick out a couple of highlights:
Ardbeg Kildalton 24 Year Old (distilled 1981) 52.6%
Nose: honeysuckle, sherry, plum, hint of chilli
Taste: fresh, floral, peach, Indian spice, none of the Ardbeg smoke as it is at 4ppm but the distillery character comes through in other ways
Finish: big, sweet, very reminiscent of Calpol
Bourbon Sample 2002. Cask 41 57.9%
Nose: It is the 10 year old on steroids (they should bottle this), smoke, banana (and my wife found grandma’s blanket in there)
Taste: sweet beginnings before the peat explosion hits, hay, mouthwash
Finish: huge burst of flavour before a quick fade
We left Ardbeg and headed to the right and found a lovely almost festered beach beyond the Kildalton Cross (thanks to Colin Dunn for the recommendation). A chippy tea on the beach at Port Ellen followed before ending the night with a rather good Bruichladdich XVII that Paul had picked up on Sunday for a mere £10.