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Islay revisited


"Sunshine, moonshine & sunset"


Last year at almost exactly the same time we visited Islay but that holiday very quickly ended in disaster as my wife fell on our second morning and was airlifted to a Glasgow hospital. After three weeks there she was flown back here to our local hospital where she spent a few more weeks before finally being allowed home again. That was definitely a holiday to forget as it left her left leg another few centimetres shorter and walking just a little more difficult, damn that brittle bone disease.

Imagine my delight earlier this year when she suggested we might like to return to Islay and have the holiday we didn't manage last year. I didn't need asking twice. We rushed to book flights, B&B, car hire, ferry ...... no, not so easily as a major problem from last year's trip also had to be revisited; namely car hire. Last year I couldn't find a single car hire company at a UK airport who would hire me a car without having a credit card. My wife has one and she was travelling with me, but apparently that doesn't count. To cut a long story short I finally found one (the only one!) for this year so we were able to go ahead and book our ferry.

Meanwhile, back at Edinburgh airport and the car hire.... "Good morning sir, how can I help you?" "I've booked a car for 10 days, here are my details ..." I reply. She then proceeds to call up my booking on her screen and assign the car ..... "You want a car for two adults and two suitcases? But you booked a Corsa and that's not really big enough." She informs me, even though I confirm that their website clearly states the car I booked is adequate for our requirements and in this case I'd prefer a small car. "No, you really need something larger, I have a Seat for only 60 GBP per day extra but I'm sure we can do it for 30 GBP per day." She kindly tells me. "But that's 300 GBP more for our holiday." "I'll speak to the manager and maybe we can do 20" she offers before disappearing and returning with a smile and confirming she can actually 'do' 10 per day (extra). I'm really not happy about this as I ordered what the firm's website says is large enough and considering the small lanes on Islay, what I really want. "But isn't the Corsa a hatchback and don't the back seats fold down?" I ask. "Oh, you're willing to put the seats down? Then it's no problem" she finally confirms. (Nice try!) "But I really do recommend you take the extra (collision damage waiver) insurance so that should anything happen you don't have to pay the 1000 GBP excess." She suggests. "I already have" I confirm but she insists that I only have the 1000 excess. Thank goodness I brought copies of all the booking e-mails and quotes which I put on her desk. "No, you're mistaken, you only have 1000 excess" she insists. Then she looks further into the sytem and confirms I do actually have zero excess as I thought. (Nice try!)

"OK, here's your key, I'm giving you a Golf" she says.

It was a Polo.


Ten days of Scotland with eight on Islay after a first night in Inverary and then the last night in Linlithgow. Maybe it's time for a few pictures: (Click on images for a larger version)





Right time, right place? This sunset over Loch Gorm was just impossible to resist and at the same time the rising Moon over Kilchoman. I know, the distillery isn't pictured, but it's right there, honestly.








As much as this holiday was about 'us' and getting a little much-needed relaxation, one really can't visit Islay without coming across an odd distillery or eight and of course it would be rather rude not to look in on a couple.

Firstly, it's very encouraging to see signs of activity at Bunnahabhain. I remember visiting some years ago and the whole site was quite depressing. Obviously Burn Stewart improved things in recent years but after the takeover by Distell last year things really seem to be starting to move forwards again.




A quick pop-in to the distillery shop and visitor centre soon confirmed that they've already been recruiting new staff, the two chaps I met were new to the company, one only being in his third week with them and they both spoke of the encouraging signs within the distillery as some much-needed investment is being spoken of. They even hold hope of the distillery cottages being eventually renovated, maybe. Damn if only I had the couple of thousand needed to take away one of the last four remaining 40 year olds from the original limited edition of 750 bottles, that would certainly help their cause, mine too.


Being one of the now 600,000-ish Laphroaig land-owners, my wife obviously had to call-in and collect her rent. She's actually one of the lucky early FoL members with her details written in a leather ledger rather than just a computer entry. Volume 49, page 66 to be exact, with her membership beginning in 1999. When we visited last year she was treated like a real VIP with the staff saying they don't get that many visitors whose names are from the early 'book days'. Sadly this year we were quickly ushered out of the FoL lounge as they considered a tasting for a tour to be more important, even though they only needed the one large table. Come on, you can do better Laphroaig.



Did I say eight distilleries? Of course I'm not counting Port Ellen which is now just a maltings, but there's a ninth on the horizon as Gartbreck farm was purchased last year by Jean Donnay (of Glann Ar Mor & Kornog fame) and he is working hard to turn this into Islay's 9th distillery. It won't be a large-scale factory, just a small craft distillery which I expect to bring just a touch of his Bretagne brilliance to Islay, "Santé" Jean & Martine Donnay!


A bit of R&R; As I already mentioned we wanted to carry on from where our holiday was abruptly ended last year. A little relaxation was definitely required and my wife dearly wanted to be close to The Atlantic again, which was easier said than done as she can walk only a few steps and many of Islay's beaches are pretty remote or require a little hike down rough ground to reach them, but it didn't stop us trying and we certainly made good use of the sunshine. We both have a love of photographing nature and its creatures and Islay has plenty to choose from, so rather than go on any more, I'll make use of the old adgae that a picture's worth a thousand words and offer you a somewhat condensed few thousand to peruse. Again you can click on these small versions for larger ones. Enjoy!


Decisions decisions .... camera case or plants for breakfast. (Click on any to enlarge)









A selection of previous Dram-atics highlights

This section is a work in progress and will eventually replace the textual 'recent features' below.



Autumn 2013 Speyside









Kürzlich behandelte Themen (Eine vollständige Liste von allen unter Dram-atics veröffentlichten Artikeln sind in meiner Inhaltsangabe nachzulesen.)  
Mai 2013 Duelling Drams - Man vs Clipper, Limburg Crooks & Nannies  
April 2013 100 points - Perfect Percy, Eggs-otic Isles Egg & Mug, Sixy bunny  
März 2013 International Whisky Day - Raise a Glass & Raise Awareness  
Februar 2013 A Horse, A Bow & a Dear, Karui-WOW-Ahhh  
Januar 2013 Glen-CLASS-augh, Fab Fo(u)rties, Glen-DROOL-nach  
Herbst 2012 The Olympkins, Getting old and Grainy  
Juli 2012 Motor Maniac - Malt Maniac, Nosing den New Make  
Mai-Jun 2012 Limburg - Die Whisky Messe, Dalmore Constellation, Integrität MM 15y Schottland, Blend of Maniacs  
Mar-Apr 2012 Investment grade madness, Glenglassaugh, 5th IWD, 1000th Review, April Fool, Going dotty, age verification
Feb. 2012 It's a rum old do, Growing old gracefully, Four Imperial sisters  
Jan. 2012 Onwards & Upwards, Canadian Whisky Awards  
Dec. 2011 MMA 2011 Winners, HP 70's Orcadians, Debussy plays Pitaud, Class of 64-65, Elementary my dear Sukhinder  
Sept-Nov 2011 Malt Maniacs Awards 2011 - A weekend in the life of a Postmaster General  
June-Aug 2011 Bits Bytes & Drams, Glen Garioch 1994, Angela D'Orazio - Mackmyra, Trinity of Two Earls, Drams at Dawn
May 2011 Don't bug me with ads, A dram fine evening
April 2011 Cry me a River, Golden Oldies, The Shackleton Legacy, Two Weddings and a Whisky
March 2011 Masters of Photography, Memory and the Middle Cut, Sampling again, Dave Stirk 5, Choosing choice Choices
Feb. 2011 Festival time again, Spam Galore!, Drams & Trams

Jan. 2011

Lookback at 2010, New Job? Three Thirties, ToC, Overdosing on sherry casks






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