After planning our trip to Islay for one year, seven Ladies finally arrived last Wednesday morning, the 14th September 2016. We flew from Glasgow to Islay and because of the wind the plane had to make an extra turn around half the island. We felt lucky to enjoy the sight of Islay from above. It is such a lovely island with varied nature.
Rachel MacNeill, Wild and Magic Islay, was the one organising our whole stay on Islay. She made all the bookings at the distilleries and drove us around the whole time! We were so happy! We could just sit back and relax without having to worry about making it on time. Rachel did an amazing job ‘herding’ us ?
We decided the dates for the trip already back in September 2015, but that was not early enough for most of the accommodations on Islay… We were happy when we managed to book The Saddlers. The Saddlers is a house you can rent for a fixed price per stay. The house has five bedrooms and three bathrooms. The location is just fantastic! Only 150 meters to Bowmore ‘downtown’ and placed right on Bowmore beach with an amazing sea view from the living room and the balcony. Just a short walk away from nice restaurants, the whisky shop and groceries.
Laphroaig Distillery Water to Whisky Experience
After getting settled at The Saddlers, Rachel picked us up and delivered us to Laphroaig Distillery at 12:00. Our hostess at the distillery, Sherylyn, welcomed us – and then the real fun began!
First post: Our Laphroaig adventure started with Sherylyn serving us Lahproaig Triplewood. She sat down talking with us and asked us about how our whisky interest started.
Next post: Sherylyn took us on a tour through the distillery and taught us about the whole distilling process. Some of the Ladies had never been to a distillery before and Sherylyn was the perfect teacher as she managed to teach without teaching – if you know what I mean. She turned it all in to a conversation about whisky.
Next stop: A drive to the water source. We walked up the hill and enjoyed the lovely view of the water source, the hills, the sea and the distillery. And of course Sherylyn had another whisky for us: Laphroaig 15 YO! I do not think whisky has ever tasted this good…until the next post on the agenda ?
Next stop: Picnic at the beach of Port Ellen! Wow! Sherylyn brought some delicious lunch boxes with a really tasty soup, a haggis ball, cheese, and other delicacies. And…another whisky! Laphroaig Lore this time. Well, the whisky tasted even better at the beach than on the hills!
Next stop: Peat Moss! Every one of us had to actually manage to cut and lift a piece of peat to deserve a new dram. A couple of us (I choose to not mention any names…) had some problems and needed help. Finally all of us had earned our Laphroaig 21 YO!
Last stop: Cask tasting! We were taken to the warehouse where three casks were ready for us. We tasted all three, one at a time. And then we had to decide which one we wanted to bottle and bring home in a 250 ml bottle. A very, very difficult decision I can tell you.
Well, the actual last stop: A chat with Vicky Stevens, the Visitor Centre Manager. It is always nice to meet her and talk whisky with her!
Swimming and dining
After spending five hours with Sherylyn, Rachel picked us up again. We finished our first day on Islay with a swim (all of the seven Ladies dived into the sea and Vicky is our witness!) and then a lovely dinner at Bowmore Hotel. We can definitely recommend both!
I will be back with a report from day 2 and 3 as well.