Last night was all about chilling out on the boat, getting to know everyone better, visiting local bars, namely the Islay Hotel bar and bumping into the legend that is Dave Broom.
Myself and Joe from The Whisky Lounge were sampling Islay limited editions until around 2:30am at which point I vaulted into my cabin, missing the bed and promptly trying again ahead of passing out until around 8am.
My highlights from today were
1. A breakfast tasting at Caol Ila
Thankfully no rib boat required this morning to get to Caol Ila, we arrived for the briefest of tours – in a good way – mostly conducted outside then into a warehouse building for a six dram vertical tasting.
I have to confess that I am guilty of not really having spent enough time with Caol Ila and the full range so I welcomed trying two festival bottlings, the 12, Distillers Edition, the 25 and 30 Year Olds. Incredible.
2. A lunch time tour and tasting at Bruichladdich
Another tour? Ok then… he says smiling and geeking out. We arrived at Bruichladdich to the news that there were only 40 bottles of their festival bottling left so, obviously, I made a point of reserving what I wanted to pick up later – a wise move as a few folk were disappointed by the lack of product at the end of our tour.
Really interesting to go around a small distillery, bigger than Kilchoman but small enough to be really interesting, and feel like the purity of how whisky whisky used to be produced – hand made, lots of terroir stories and equipment that dated back over a century.
3. Wandering around the island just taking it all in
This is like the FA Cup Final for whisky fans, I saw it described as ‘Ibiza for whisky geeks’ which I’m not totally convinced about but I like the sentiment.
By wandering around I of course mean a 5km walk to the Ardbeg water source, with accompanying whiskies which was both knackering and brilliant. The wind blew away all cobwebs and it was just lovely to get out and walk through the elements with the most picturesque of surroundings.
We also drove around from place to place throughout the day witht he Jurassic Park music as our soundtrack. Random but strangely apt.
[divider] BONUS: A special SMWS tasting with John McCheyne[/divider]
What a guy. We tried a number of the best SMWS bottles as a group, not much more to say here other than how lovely it was to spend time with the legend that is John McCheyne and a bunch of great whiskies to boot. Thanks!
There is something special during festival week, and I can say that having spent a week here last year a couple of weeks after the festivaly, the buzz and vibe are totally different. Both brilliant but for different reasons.