Islay Whisky Tour

Islay whisky tour

Join me, David Wood for an ultimate Islay Whisky Tour. I’ve worked in the whisky industry for many years and was Distillery Manager at the biggest distillery on Islay, the mighty Caol Ila Distillery!

Exclusive Islay Whisky Tours With a Distillery Manager

When you join us on Islay you, whether for a few days or for a week, you will enjoy luxurious accommodation throughout your stay in breathtaking scenery. We take care of all your food, all your transport whilst on Islay and all distillery tours, tastings and masterclasses.

During your stay with us, I’ll be your island guide, we’ll visit as many distilleries as you like and see as much of the beautiful Isle of Islay as possible.

Whats Included?

  • Luxury traditional farmhouse accommodation with stunning Islay mountain views and roaring fires
  • All food supplied to your requirements
  • All transport to and from distillery events and transfers to and from the ferry or plane
  • A full itinerary of distillery tours and tastings
  • Myself David Wood, former Caol Ila Distillery Manager as your host for the duration of your stay
  • The opportunity to fish for wild brown trout on the loch adjacent to the house
  • Deer stalking as an optional extra

Contact Us

We’d love to hear from you. If you would like to make an enquiry about our Islay Whisky Tours, please complete the form below and we will reply to you as soon as we can!

Islay Distillery Tours With a Distillery Manager

There is nowhere quite like Islay not least because of the fact that there are no less than 8 working distilleries on this relatively small island. The new Ardnahoe Distillery will be in operation in August 2019 and more distilleries are planned.

There is so much to see, from important historical sites such as Finlaggan to the beautiful, empty Atlantic beaches at Machir Bay and Saligo. The scenery is breathtaking and the wildlife abundant, you are more likely to see golden eagle and white tailed sea eagle here than anywhere else in the United Kingdom. Islay has become the eagle island.

If you are a lover of seafood, there is plenty to wet the appetite on Islay. The local fishing fleet brings in crab, lobster and all kinds of shellfish on a daily basis, and there are always oysters available for those who wish to try them as fresh as possible straight from the brine.

Why Join Us on a Guided Islay Whisky Distillery Trip?

If you want to pack as much in to your trip as possible, whatever your time constraints may be, to visit as many distilleries as possible and enjoy the very best of distillery tastings and experiences whilst seeing as much Islay as possible, we can host and plan your trip for you to ensure you get the most out of your trip to Islay.

Each of our Islay whisky tours is different. Many of our trips are bespoke to our clients requirements. Some of our guests like to relax in front of the fire after a busy day visiting distilleries, and we’ll enjoy dinner there. Other guests prefer to enjoy the hospitality of local pubs and restaurants, meeting the locals and enjoying traditional Islay music. Whichever you prefer, we can arrange it for you.

Islay Whisky Distillery Tours and Experiences

We carefully plan your itinerary to ensure that you get the very best use of your time whilst on Islay. We try to fit in as many of the special distillery tours, warehouse experiences and tastings as possible on each Islay whisky tour. Each of the 8 distilleries has a visitor centre and each offer tours and experiences from a simple guided tour of the distillery to an in-depth masterclass with someone who works at the distillery.

Distillery Tours

On a distillery tour you spend about an hour walking through a distillery with a very knowledgable tour guide. Your guide will show you how the whisky makes the very special journey from field to table. After the tour you will enjoy drams with your guide and then be able to ask any questions that you may have about the process and the whisky.

 

Distillery Warehouse Experiences

We love warehouses, they are the most wonderful, atmospheric places. Each cask sleeping on an Islay warehouse is a piece of history. Each cask end has its own story to tell. Spending time in a traditional dunnage warehouse is an absolute treat, and when you are back at home enjoying a Islay dram, it is to these warehouses that you will be magically transported such an impact they have on your senses. Dunnage warehouses are often earthen floored, the atmosphere is damp and full of sea air, and whisky vapours from the casks of course, otherwise known as the angels share. We like to take guests to Lagavulin where the legend of Lagavulin, Iain MacArthur is your host on the warehouse experience. We also like to take guest to Bunnahabhain and Bruichladdich where similar wonderful experiences can be enjoyed, at Bunnahabhain guests also have the opportunity to fill their own bottles straight from the cask.

Islay Whisky Tastings and Masterclasses

In between visits to distilleries, I will be on hand to answer any questions that you might have about distilling on Islay and the whisky industry in general. Guests enjoy masterclasses where we taste rare single cask whiskies and distillery only bottlings from each of the distilleries. I’m often accompanied by my infamous wooden sample box containing rare delights from the past, and one or two cask strength drams.

Islay Whisky Tour

Islay Whisky Tour

Your Transport Whilst on Islay

We arrange transport for our guests while they are on Islay. We work closely with a local coach company when designing each itinerary to ensure that your Islay whisky trip runs smoothly and that your time is used efficiently. All of the drivers are extremely friendly and knowledgable, some have even worked at Islay distilleries. I always accompany guests on the coach so that I can point out places of interest as we travel between distilleries and so that I can answer any questions that guests might have. We ask guests to make their own travel arrangements to Islay, whether by ferry or plane, and we then collect from the ferry terminal or Islay airport.

Islay whisky tours

Other Islay Activities

It isn’t all about the whisky (although most of it is!). There are many other activities that we can arrange for our guests. As well as sightseeing, guests can enjoy bird watching, sea safaris, fishing, shooting and stalking. All of these can be included in your itinerary should you wish. Each of our bespoke Islay whisky tours is different and we can quote to include as many activities as you like.

Book Your Bespoke Islay Whisky Trip

If you are interested in joining us for an Islay whisky trip of a lifetime on one of our Guided Islay Whisky Experiences please get in touch. We can answer all your questions about arranging your special trip to Islay. We can put together a suggested itinerary for you, just let us know the duration of the trip you require, how many guests will be in your party, any dates that you have in mind, and we will set to work!

Call David on 07875 405 980 or click here to send an email for more information or to book a bespoke Guided Islay Distilleries Experience.

We would love to host your very special trip on Islay, we hope to see you there soon.

Slainte

David

Islay whisky trip

 

Port Ellen Distillery To Reopen

Port Ellen Distillery

Another New Islay Distillery

My former colleagues on Islay and whisky enthusiasts around the globe are in for an exciting period in the next few years as the continuing boom in sales of single malt whisky and soaring interest in the whisky category has led to Diageo announcing that Port Ellen Distillery on Islay and Brora Distillery in Sutherland are both to reopen in 2020.

Port Ellen Distillery

Both Port Ellen and Brora were forced to close down in 1983 when whisky found itself out of favour and sales plummeted. Port Ellen has operated as a commercial maltings ever since malting 550 tonnes of barley every week to chiefly supply Caol Ila, Lagavulin but also smaller amounts for competitor distilleries on Islay.

Port Ellen Distillery

Port Ellen Single Malt Whisky

Port Ellen and Brora single malts have regularly featured in the Diageo annual special releases and command very high retail prices running in to thousands of pounds. Collectors and enthusiasts will be delighted that these iconic distilleries and brands are being brought back to life, albeit on a small scale. Diageo have hinted that the distilleries will produce on a small scale, probably around 800,000 ltrs of alcohol per year between the two new sites, with meticulous attention to detail in an effort to closely replicate the style of the old distillates. Brora and Port Ellen will be the smallest distilleries in the Diageo portfolio of 30 whisky producing sites.

The New Port Ellen Distillery

The new Port Ellen Distillery will be housed in a new building alongside the existing Port Ellen Maltings, presumably making use of some of the empty original distillery buildings in Kiln Square. Diageo will have given much thought to water sources, the old distillery used two lochs, one of which will now be supplying the maltings with steeping water, perhaps the other will supply the new distillery. In any case permission and consents will have been sought with SEPA, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, to abstract enough water for mashing, cooling and cleaning purposes. The old water holding reservoir is still visible behind the houses at Bay View in Port Ellen, this will no doubt be put to use again once the distillery is open.

Distillery Islay

The malted barley won’t have to travel far of course, it will either come directly from the maltings next door, or, like many other new craft distilleries, the owners may decide to install their own floor maltings, particularly as the site will have huge visitor numbers who would enjoy seeing the traditional method of malting. The peat will be exclusively from Islay as you would expect. In order to produce 400,000 ltrs of alcohol per year, the new distillery will require around 1000 tonnes of malted barley each year, this equates to around 20 tonnes per week if you take in to account likely down time in silent season. 20 tonnes of malted barley doesn’t sound a lot but when you consider that when Caol Ila is running at full pelt it requires 350 tonnes per week and Lagavulin uses around 122 tonnes per week, this doesn’t leave a lot of surplus for the competitor sites, just 78 tonnes in fact. 20 tonnes for the new distillery could potentially mean a reduction of 25% of surplus malt for the other distilling sites which is a huge difference so I would imagine that plans are in place for either extra malting capacity at the existing maltings or a traditional kiln and malting floor to be installed at the new distillery. We’ll have to wait and see!

Islay Distillery Tour

Given the small production figures, I would have thought it likely that the new distillery will only have one wash and one spirit still, the old distillery had a wash still with around 16000 ltr capacity and a spirit still with around 9500 ltrs capacity so it will be interesting to see if the new stills are of similar sizes. Diageo will without doubt be keen to ensure that the stills replicate in shape the original stills at Port Ellen so as to create a very similar spirit.

The warehouses from the old Port Ellen distillery still stand, and most must now be nearly empty as the old stocks are depleted and now that warehousing space is no longer being let out to competitor distillers such as Kilchoman. It will be great to see these old traditional dunnage warehouses filling up again with casks full of Port Ellen spirit. Sitting right on the sea shore, these warehouses will make the perfect place to once again mature Port Ellen single malt whisky.

Port Ellen will also have a new Brand Home, a visitor centre where enthusiasts from around the world will be able to enjoy tours and tastings. I have to say that I’m quite envious of my former colleagues who will see the iconic Port Ellen Distillery come back to life bringing the number of distilleries on Islay to 10.

There will be people who challenge what Diageo are doing, there will be sceptics who say the spirit doesn’t resemble the old Port Ellen style, indeed someone left me a comment to say that Port Ellen isn’t reopening, it wasn’t mothballed, it was completely closed, but in answer to this I would say, would we rather not have a new Port Ellen Distillery, are we not excited about the single malt whisky being made on this historic site? Yes the equipment will be new, the mill, the mash tun and the stills but if anyone can come close to replicating the old spirit profile it is Diageo. They have an exceptional wealth of talent at their disposal, both within Diageo Malt Distilling and within the team on Islay. They have employees and contractors who remember the old distillery, who visited it frequently, who had brothers, fathers and grand fathers who worked in the old distillery. Above all they have an abundance of distilling experience and this will ensure that the spirit is as close to the old Port Ellen spirit style as possible. At the very least the opening of the new distillery will mean a dozen new jobs in all probability which will be great for the economy of the island.

This is great news for the whisky industry, brilliant news for Islay but also fantastic news for our guests on our Guided Islay Distillery Experiences which we arrange regularly as they’ll get to visit Port Ellen Distillery!

Gin Tasting Leek

Visit Islay and Port Ellen With Distilled Events!

Click here for more information about our Guided Islay Distillery Experiences. We are taking bookings for a week long guided tour of Islay and her distilleries commencing on Saturday 24th March 2018.

We will also have accommodation available in a large luxury house for upto 10 guests during Feis Ile – Islay Whisky Festival 2018. Please contact us here if you would like more information.

Slainte and happy drams!

David

Port Ellen Distillery

All pictures courtesy of Joe Scrivens of One Little Daisy Photography

Forthcoming Events – Whisky & Gin Tastings Near You!

Whisky Tasting

We have a busy few weeks here at Distilled Events! We have scheduled plentiful whisky tastings and gin tasting events all over the UK as well as hosting a few private tasting events in between. If you would like us to host a whisky tasting for you at your private party or corporate event, or if you would like us to contact a local venue that you think may be interested in hosting an event with us, please contact us here.

Forthcoming Tasting Events

We would love to see you at one of or forthcoming tasting events. We host regular whisky tastings and gin tastings in our home town of Leek in Staffordshire but most of our tastings are further afield within the UK and next year we’ll be travelling outwith the UK. Below is a list of the events we currently have scheduled. We’ll be adding more so please keep an eye on our Facebook page or on our Forthcoming Tasting & Events page on the Distilled Events website.

 

Single Cask Whisky Warehouse Distilled EventsRare Single Malt Whisky Masterclass – Sheffield – 13.10.17 – Picture House Social

Join us at Picture House Social for an evening tasting rare whiskies. This intimate tasting will be for a group of maximum 14 guests. During the tasting you’ll taste 6 whiskies, all cask strength, and all limited editions. You will be tasting whiskies that are only available at the distillery and some will be single cask whiskies. The perfect tasting for the whisky enthusiast.

Buy tickets for the Rare Single Malt Whisky Masterclass here.

 

Gin TastingsGin Tasting Experience – Leek – 31.10.17 – Spout Brew House

Once again we’ll be at the delightful Spout Brew House showing a range of awesome gins.

Guests will taste 6 craft gins neat before mixing the perfect serve G&T as suggested by each distiller. A great opportunity to learn about the history of gin and how it makes the journey from field to tableThis fun and informative event is suitable for those new to the world of gin and for the seasoned enthusiast!

Buy tickets for the Gin Tasting Experience here.

 

Gin TastingsGin & Tapas Tasting Experience – Buxton – 01/11/17 – South 16

We’ve been invited back to South 16 in Buxton in the heart of the Peak District National Park to host a Gin & Tapas Tasting Experience. Guests will first taste 6 craft gins neat before mixing the perfect G&Ts with garnishes as suggested by each distiller. Guests will then enjoy tasty tapas perfectly paired with the G&Ts. This fun and informative event is suitable for those new to the world of gin and for the seasoned enthusiast!

Buy tickets for the Gin & Tapas Tasting Experience here.

 

Bunnahabhain Warehouse TourWhisky Tasting Dinner – Nottingham – 03/11/17 – Alea Casino

We are hoping to host regular tasting events at Alea Casino Nottingham and this will be the first of them. During this fantastic whisky tasting, guests will taste six drams from all around Scotland, three of which will be perfectly paired with a mouth watering three course meal, each course specially selected by chef and David to compliment each whisky. This fun and informative event is perfect for the newcomer to the world of whisky or for the seasoned enthusiast!

Buy tickets for the Whisky Tasting Dinner here.

 

Botanist GinGin & Canapes Tasting Experience – Nottingham – 09/11/17 – Alea Casino

We’ve been invited to Alea Casino Nottingham to host a Gin & Canapes Tasting Experience. Guests will first taste 6 craft gins neat before mixing the perfect G&Ts with garnishes as suggested by each distiller. Guests will then enjoy tasty canapes perfectly paired with the G&Ts. This fun and informative event is suitable for those new to the world of gin and for the seasoned enthusiast!

Buy tickets for the Gin & Canapes Tasting Experience here.

 

whisky tastings islay festivalSingle Malt Whisky Tasting Masterclass – Brighton – 11/11/17 – The Southern Belle

We can’t wait to host our first whisky tasting by the sea in Brighton, we are hoping it is the first of many. During this exclusive event, David will be taking guests on an imbibing tour of the whisky regions of Scotland. He’ll be giving an in-depth explanation of the whisky production process and guests will be taken on a virtual tour of a large malt whisky distillery in Scotland. Oh yeah, there will be 6 awesome drams to enjoy too!

Buy tickets for the Single Malt Whisky Tasting Masterclass here.

More Info?

Please don’t hesitate to contact David on 07875 405 980 if you would like any further information about any of the above events or if you would like to enquire about having a tasting event at your party, corporate event or if you would like to recommend a venue where you think it would be good for us to host a tasting. Please click here to contact us and we will be back to you as soon as possible.

Slainte and happy drams!

Laphroaig – Another Awesome Islay Dram

Islay Distillery Tours

I love peaty Islay whiskies. I used to be in charge of Caol Ila which makes 6.7 million ltrs* of peaty spirit a year so I should like peaty whisky. Caol Ila was always one of my favourite single malt whiskies before I moved to Islay so to become manager was a dream come true for me.

*That’s not strictly true as Caol Ila often produces unpeated spirit for a month or two a year. Typically known as Highland Caol Ila because the resulting spirit is made in the highland style, you can see cask ends with the word ‘Highland’ stencilled on to them in the lovely Victorian dunnage warehouse on site.

Laphroaig

I do however have a love of other Islay single malt whiskies. I have always enjoyed the majority of bottlings produced by Laphroaig, not least the rich, sweet and smokey, everyday 10 year old Laphroaig single malt whisky.

Islay Distillery Tours

 

Islay Whisky Tastings

I often show Laphroaig in my whisky tastings. It isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, and I certainly wouldn’t give it to someone who was only just embarking on their journey into the wonderful world of whiskies, or to someone who had never tried single malt whisky before. For those who like a smokey peaty dram though this is an absolute belter, and of all the whiskies on Islay, when you put your nose into a glass of Laphroaig or Caol Ila (peated), there can be no mistake as to the provenance of the spirit. Islay introduces herself to the imbiber, is to the point, and instantly recognisable.

The Laphroaig Advert

Laphroaig is a marmite whisky. You love it or hate it. During my whisky tastings, I often talk about one of their recent adverts which in my opinion is the best whisky advert there has ever been. It is great to see a few old faces on the video too, old friends like Ginger Willie and farmer Sandy make an appearance.

Laphroaig Distillery Tours

We regularly arrange bespoke Guided Islay Distillery Experiences where we look after groups of guests on a week long or sometimes shorter basis. We provide all food, accommodation and transport once guests are on Islay.

You can find out about our Guided Islay Distillery Experiences by clicking here. As part of our experiences we always like to take guests to Laphroaig not least because of it’s beautiful situation in Laphroaig Bay, but also because it has a fantastic visitor centre with a good selection of tours and tastings to choose from. We also like to take guests to Laphroaig because it is one of the only distilleries on Islay to malt some of it’s own barley on it’s traditional malt floors.

You can check out Laphroaig Distillery website here and find out more information about their awesome whiskies, distillery visitor centre, and tour times by clicking here.

Islay Distillery Tour

All pics courtesy of Joe Scrivens of One Little Daisy Photography. Joe joined us on one of our Guided Islay Distillery Experiences. You can see all of the other fantastic photos that he took during the trip by clicking here.

Hope to see you on Islay soon!

Slainte and happy drams!

David

david@distilledevents.co.uk

Guided Islay Distilleries Experience, April 2017

It All Started With Whisky Tastings in Leek

Thats me just back from a fantastic trip to the magical Isle of Islay. I’ve hosted trips to Islay for groups of whisky enthusiasts for many years, and this was the first of 2017. Our group was made up of 7 enthusiastic folk, some new to whisky, some seasoned enthusiasts, all set to visit Islay for the first time. We’d first talked of arranging this trip way back in September 2017, and it didn’t take long to fill it as word got round the regulars at The Earl Grey Inn in Leek that we would be Islay bound next spring.

Pinkie Lagavulin

Preparing for an Islay Whisky Trip Of a Lifetime

I had tried to prepare those that signed up for the expedition, I’d tried to explain what incredible experiences awaited them on the whisky isle, but it is very hard to do, very hard to describe the beauty and magic of Islay. The only way is to experience it at first hand, to make the long journey by road to the Calmac ferry terminal at Kennacraig, around the sea lochs of Argyll, to visit the distilleries and historic sites and to meet the people of Islay who make most beautifully complex whiskies in the world.

There is nowhere else in the world that makes whisky that truly speaks of the landscape, whisky that when you stick your nose in the glass and have a good sniff it transports you to where it was distilled, the peat reek betraying it’s provenance. The island is certainly responsible for luring me in to the whisky world many years ago, I remember being given a glass of Caol Ila for the first time and being left in a state of shock by the intensity of its nose alone, even before I experienced the wonderful acidity and zestiness on the palate.

My guests were in for a life changing treat.

Islay Distillery tours

The Perfect Base For a Whisky Trip

Our guests were due to arrive on the Monday evening ferry arriving at Port Askaig, they would then be collected by minibus from Islay Taxi and Minibus Hire. After a long journey from Staffordshire I knew they would be ready to sit in front of a roaring log fire and enjoy a couple of drams, even if they’d probably taken advantage of the malt of the month offer in the bar on the ferry.

Our accommodation for the week was to be Octovullin Farmhouse which I often use for both whisky and fishing trips as it is extremely comfortable, spacious and well equipped.

Islay Whisky Trip Itinerary

TUESDAY

After a grand night’s sleep, and a hearty breakfast with meats supplied by Porters Butchers in Bowmore it was time to introduce our guests to Islay. (I’ve included our full itinerary below so that you can see exactly what one of our Guided Islay Distilleries Experiences looks like in detail). At 9am our cheerful driver Kenneth arrived to collect us and off we weeched our guests to their first distillery, the first distillery being Ardbeg no less. Here our guests enjoyed an in-depth tour with Ross and after that, they were to be treated to a tasting of many whiskies from the full range of Ardbeg. Smiles were all around, the biggest of all being on the face of our Paul who had set himself the challenge of finding a whisky to beat his favourite, Ardbeg 10 year old. He was to have much fun in his quest. And so were we.

After our tasting we wandered down to the pier with a dram and gazed out to sea. Who else should put in an appearance but the otter. Perfect, right on cue.

Ardbeg Distillery

Islay Distillery Tour

A packed itinerary meant that there was no time to stay for lunch at the popular Old Kiln Cafe as we had a date with Bruichladdich Distillery at 1pm. No horses were spared during Kenneth’s mission to deliver us in time for our next tour and tasting at Bruichladdich. This distillery built in 1881, the same year as Bunnahabhain in the North of the island, was built at a time when the whisky industry was in boom, due not least because of the decimation of the vineyards in Europe through the outbreak of the phylloxera epidemic. Cognac and Claret had been the alcoholic drinks of choice at the time and the canny Scotts stepped in to save the day by developing and marketing the Scotch industry.

We had another great tour at what is about as close as one can get to being a working Victorian distillery, and then it was time for our guests to enjoy their first visit to one of the island’s fine dunnage warehouses for a tasting, this time straight from casks, and hosted by my former Caol Ila colleague Heather. Heather has first hand experience of many of the Islay distilleries, after being lucky enough to work in many of them. She was good craic and kept our guests fully entertained and supplied with awesome vintage Laddies.

Islay Distillery Tour

We tasted some wonderful drams straight from the cask, the most popular being a stunning 1989 vintage American oak matured laddie. Delicious. After a full range tasting at Ardbeg, and now another flight of truly awesome drams my guests were beginning to feel the effect so it was off to the shop to pick up some bottles including the distillery only bottling known as ‘Valinch’. There is always at least one cask at Bruichladdich where visitors can bottle their own whisky, it is named valinch after the pipette type instrument used to draw cask samples. I’m told that valinch means ‘cask thief’ in Gaelic.

Islay Distillery Tour

We thought that after all that whisky, a little fresh air was the order of the day so Kenneth pointed the bus in the direction of Machir Bay and of we set for the beach, however, we would of course need to call in to Kilchoman Distillery as it seemed a while since we’d had a dram. Once again, bottles were eagerly gathered and finally we made our way to the beach. For one of us, tired and emotional, a wee paddle in the sea was the perfect antidote.

WEDNESDAY

If Tuesday wasn’t busy enough for my lucky guests, Wednesday was to packed with distillery activities and once again we headed off down to the South end of the island, to the Kildalton coast to visit the iconic Lagavulin and Laphroaig distilleries.

At 9.30, the guys joined the tour of Lagavulin Distillery hosted by Sophie, before being taken down to a stunning dunnage warehouse where they would meet the Lagavulin Legend, Iain McArthur, a man who I’d had the pleasure of working with regularly in my years at Caol Ila and Lagavulin. Iain’s Warehouse Demonstrations are famous the world over and people travel thousands of miles to hear his anecdotes and to have good craic whilst tasting awesome drams straight from the casks filled with various vintages of lovely Lagavulin. The tasting began though with a wee taste of the 2016 Islay Jazz Festival bottling which were still available in the distillery visitor centre, there would be a few less in the shop that morning.

Islay Distillery Tour

After visiting the Kildalton Cross and Chapel, it was time for Laphroaig where we would enjoy a distillery tour followed by drams. It was great to see traditional malt floors and kilning, and perfect for demonstrating how peaty Islay drams really speak of their provenance. The peat reek was starting to come in to play.

Islay Distillery Tour

We had an hour or so spare at the end of the day so Kenneth took us back up through Port Ellen and Bridgend via the High Road to Finlaggan, once the seat of The Lord of The Isles, and one of the most important historical sites in all of Scotland. The guests certainly appreciated a few lung fulls of good Islay fresh air after another day packed with stunning drams.

Islay Distillery Tour

THURSDAY

And so the final day had come, and it was time to head for good old Caol Ila where until recently I was Distillery Manager. Caol Ila is by far the largest distillery on Islay, but that does not mean that the quality of spirit is any less. My go to dram was, and still is, and probably always will be from Caol Ila. We were met by my successor, Ed Thom who kindly looked after us for the morning, for which I and my guests were most grateful not just because of how well he looked after us but because he was also off on annual leave. Half way through the tasting, I realised that everyone had gone very quiet as we were sat in the cooperage at Caol Ila. I realised that a lot of pennies were beginning to drop and that guests were now really starting to understand the array and diversity of different spirit styles, flavours and profiles. They were also starting to realise that they were having the time of their lives.

Islay Distillery Tour

Islay Distillery Tour

Proud to boast and show off my signatures and initials on various bottles in the distillery visitor centre, much to the amusement of Ed, many bottles were gathered and it was time to point the bus North, to another old stomping ground of mine, and a distillery very close to my heart. Bunnahabhain. At Bunnahabhain we were treated to a comprehensive tour and warehouse experience by the ever enthusiastic and knowledgeable David. We tasted incredible Bunnahabhains from an array of single casks but this time guests were able to buy and bottle their own drams in wee bottles, many of which will no doubt be proudly displayed in Staffordshire whisky cabinets.

It was time for the last distillery visit of the week, this time at Bowmore, the first distillery on Islay to be given a license to distill back in 1779. Although this was the last distillery visit, it was not the last whisky experience. I had quietly planned with the help of a very good friend that my guests would enjoy a little peat cutting to round off their Islay experience, which all enjoyed, not least because of the tutor host.

 

Join Us on a Whisky Trip to Islay

We had enjoyed perfect weather throughout our week, the food was fantastic, our hosts obliging, the whisky sang as ever and our guests eager to enjoy the experience as much as possible. Whether it is fishing experiences or whisky trips that I’m arranging it sometimes feels like cheating. Whether stood in a loch casting a line, catching or not catching, whether enjoying a dram on an Islay beach or in a dunnage warehouse, Islay does my work for me, my guests are blown away by the surroundings, the landscapes, the people, and the whisky. It is indeed a stunning place, and a place that is life changing for each who visits.

If you would like to join us for an experience of a lifetime, please get in touch. We arrange scheduled trips during the year but we also arrange bespoke Guided Distillery Experiences for groups of friends or colleagues, we can tailor the trip to suit your time constraints, size of group and the amount of activities you would like to enjoy. As well as distillery tours and experiences we arrange sea safari adventures, shooting, fishing and many other exciting things to do.

Lagavulin Warehouse Experience Distilled Events

Islay Shooting

Islay Distillery Tour

 

 

ITINERARY (For info)

MONDAY 03/03/17

8.25pm            Ferry arrives at Port Ellen Islay

8.30pm            Guests collected by Islay Taxis Minibus from Port Ellen Ferry Terminal

9.00pm            Guests arrive at Octovullin Farmhouse, rooms allocated on arrival

9.30pm            Welcome drams in the drawing room

TUESDAY 04/04/17

9.00am             Minibus collects guests from Octovullin

10.00am           ARDBEG DISTILLERY. Distillery tour followed by Full Range Tasting

12.10pm            Minibus collects guests from Ardbeg

1.00pm             BRUICHLADDICH DISTILLERY. Distillery tour followed by Warehouse Experience

3.30pm             Minibus collects guests from Bruichladdich

4.00pm             KILCHOMAN DISTILLERY. Brief visit to shop, weather dependent trip to Machir Bay

5.30pm             Minibus returns guests to Octovullin

WEDNESDAY 05/04/17

8.30am             Minibus collects guests from Octovullin

9.30am             LAGAVULIN DISTILLERY. Distillery tour followed by Warehouse Experience

12.15pm            Minibus collects guests from Lagavulin. Visit Kildalton Cross and Claggan Bay

2.00pm            LAPHROAIG DISTILLERY. Distillery Tour

3.30pm            Minibus collects guests from Laphroaig

4.00pm            Visit Finlaggan Castle

5.00pm            Minibus returns guests to Octovullin

THURSDAY 06/04/17

8.30am            Minibus collects guests from Octovullin

9.30am            CAOL ILA DISTILLERY. Distillery Tour

10.45am          Minibus collects guests from Caol Ila. En route to Bunnahabhain chance to see new site of Ardnahoe Distillery.

11.30am           BUNNAHABHAIN DISTILLERY. Tour and Warehouse Experience

2.00pm            Minibus collects guests from Bunnahabhain

2.30pm            BOWMORE DISTILLERY. Distillery Tour

3.45pm            Minibus collects guests

4.00pm            Visit ISLAY ALES and ISLAY STUDIOS in Bridgend Square

5.00pm            Minibus collects guests and returns to Octovullin

FRIDAY 07/04/17

8.30am            Minibus collects guests from Octovullin and takes to port for ferry departure