The Malt Whisky Association of Finland – Whisky Tour to Islay & Campbeltown September 2012 – Mclean Scotland Sunday

The Malt Whisky Association of Finland

Whisky tour to Islay and Campbeltown September 2012

Their second tour with MCLEANSCOTLAND was taken mid September 2012, yet another group of whisky lovers arrived on Scottish soil. Paul was there to meet them at Glasgow airport, along with Bud, our coach driver. After a shepherding act to ensure all were on board, we set off for Loch Lomond, our first (courtesy) stop. With a fifteen minute stop here for rest and scenic photography, a good start to their tour in Scotland. Only two of the group (13) had been here before. On board once again we set out for a scenic drive through the Argyll forest, passing lochs, through glens and up the “rest and be thankful” mountain pass (landslide damage obvious here). Down to Loch Fyne, passing through Inveraray, Lochgilphead and Ardrishaig on the road to Tarbet.

Passing through and getting a great view Kennacriag CalMac ferry point on our right, we headed south to Campletown. Checking into our hotel here, before a good dinner, followed of course, by several drams both in our own hotel and others! I have to mention Mika here, he held out the longest, being the last one to leave the hotel bar – early hours, well done that man (a very good friend). Day two and we walked to Springbank distillery for a tour, Grant from Cadenhead to the tour (I wandered aboot and chatted to Ranald over a few points) which of course, was followed by a tasting; a Springbank, Longrow red, Hazelburn, special bottle HMS Campbeltown, plus a couple of other gems. Did we enjoy them? Aye bloomin right we did! Shopping followed, it was so hard extracting them from the shop! I personally bought a nice Springbank 15 year old, bottled 27.08.12. recharred sherry butt, from 9.5.97. @ 55.8%. I will sup this one myself thank you!

Back on the coach we headed north back to Kennacraig for the Islay ferry. A 2 hour sail where we sampled some food and- aye you guessed it, whisky. Arriving at Port Askaig, we trooped off the coach and took the ferry to Jura, leaving our coach (and BUD) on Islay. The wee landing craft took us the short sail to Jura where we met our local bus and Alex taking us to the distillery. Stopping now and then for scenic treasures, we hit the distillery on time, a brief chat to Willie and took our specially arranged tour. At least six drams followed, a great time (and shopping) had by all. The group then hit the bar of the hotel next to the distillery. Me? well as most people know, I hate whisky, so went off for a drive with Alex to study the island more, grand job he did, many thanks Alex. Around 6pm we met up with the group again and headed back to the ferry, stopping now and then, near the ferry we stopped longer as there was a huge bunch of deer, many photos later we boarded the ferry for Islay. Hello Bud, take us to our hotel please, which he did (very well). Checked in, settled, we hit the bar, a great bar at Lochside. Followed by a huge dinner, plates overflowing, many thanks to David and his team. Completely full and bulging, we settled back at the bar, a great day ended – more tomorrow.

Day three; 9am off to Kilchoman distillery, a good tour followed by several drams, a small distillery but very well received by our group. Along the beaten up track back to the road, Bud was taking things easy on these wee roads, our next stop we chucked in an unexpected one; Bruichladdich. No time to tour but in we went, shopping, photos and even a taste or two. Shepard act again, after the “round up” we headed north to Bunny heaven (Bunnahabhain) for a tour, actually my favourite distillery on Islay (Paul). A tour followed by a fantastic seafood lunch, crab, oyster, salmon, scallop and salad, with wine and grand chocolate sauce (with whisky) pudding! Och this was followed by a 4 dram tasting session, I hate my job! Eventually, time to go, driving back to Bowmore, we hit the shop and bar here at the distillery, no time to tour but certainly I spotted at least 4 of our group taking 3 drams or so in the bar, of course you need look after your guests, so I joined them. Such a nice guy. On the road again, this time arriving on time at Lagavulin, after a wee delay we set out on our tour whisky was followed by a single dram. End of the day? This was now near 6pm. No, we took two more stops for photos at Ardbeg and Laphroaig. Finally heading back to Bowmore to another huge dinner. It was here I met up with some people in the bar, my group were upstairs relaxing, changing (into what?) while I sat doon with two very nice folks from California and Honolulu and also Erling, whom I had met in Bergen Norway at the whisky fest there earlier in the year. We shared a few drams – my arm was twisted, honest! Into dinner, saying goodbye to my American pals, Erling (Norway) sat doon with his group of 12 on the next table to our Finland group (with two Scots; Paul and Bud), they were a nice quiet bunch those Vikings. Food, wine and whisky, accompanied by friends, can life get better?

Day four; It was windy last night, so windy some ferries we not running on our west coast, oops, with a quick update to calmac, ours was ok. Round up time and off to Port Askaig again, where we sat and awaited our turn to board. Some last minute shopping at the post office and on to the ferry for a two hour sail, food and more whisky. To be honest, Bud and myself dozed most of the way over. Arriving on the mainland we set out for Inveraray again, but this time, stopping at a friends place; Loch Fyne whisky shop. Some grand tastings, shopping and good humour, we stayed approx. 40 minutes before one more stop; Loch Fyne Oyster Bar, shopping, wee samples and oysters for Mika – he supped 6 in fast time! Back to the courtesy stop at Loch Lomond and on into Glasgow.

There was a parade for Olympians in Glasgow so roads were closed, we found our hotel and checked in. Most went out to explore Glasgow at 4pm ish, dinner booked for 7.30. At 7pm we met up in the bar, by this time Liz (MCLEANSCOTLAND) had arrived and joined the fun, Nearing half seven we started going up the lifts to the 6th floor for dinner. Ah, six of us in the lift got stuck! It never moved, the doors wouldnee open, it started getting warm, we pushed alarm bells, pushed out panel in the lift roof, and me? getting hot and bothered, I suffer with Claustrophobia, it was not good, to make things worse, we were “released” by the fire brigade! As they opened the lift door and we fell out, those four fire bobbies were looking at me strange; I had hold of Liz’s handbag, a cardigan and a glass of red wine! Anyhow, eventually got to dinner, where we had a whisky dinner, sharing some 9 different drams. What an end to the tour, unforgettable! Come back soon Mika.

Written by Paul McLean, Owner of MCLEANSCOTLAND & ANGELS WHISKY CLUB. As I recalled the trip, please forgive lack of grammar and any errors!  the full story online whisky tours of Scotland and Ireland free whisky club with members worldwide, news, views, comments and videos

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