Islay Visits Part XXXVII – The Final Part !

Friday 1st August 2014 

Our final full day on Islay , Boo ! We decided on lunch at Ardbeg so after a bit of a lie in headed off to the Old Kiln , on the way we spotted a rather fine cruise ship moored in Kilnaughton Bay…….

(Click on photos to see full size)

 

2014_08_01_01The Sea Cloud 2 2014_08_01_02The Rowers Practicing

There was a bit of practicing going on for the Islay Rowing Regatta . Once in we ordered the Fillets of Seabass in a white wine creamy sauce  . After picking up a bottle of Auriverdes and having a chat to Janey we had a stop off at Laphroaig to look at the shop , Melanie bought me a rather nice Polo Shirt and i bought a bottle of the 25yo !

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This will be put aside next to the Bunnahabhain 25yo and Ardbeg Lord of the Isles for 5 years time when we will celebrate our Silver Wedding on Islay . There was just time to pop into The Celtic House Coffee Shop for one last Coffee and Cakes , i must say this has been a great addition to Bowmore , the Coffee is great and the homemade cakes are Sooooo good ! Don’t know what the hell we are going to do next week when it gets to 3pm…… apart from suffer withdrawal symptoms !!!! It was back to the cottage for one last night and doing the worst bit of the holiday , packing up ! The days good weather actually gave us the best Sunset of the holiday…… and loads of Midges!  

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Saturday 2nd August 2014

 Due to being slightly slow and booking the ferry later than normal we couldn’t get our normal 9.45am one so it was the 3.30pm , giving us another chance to eat at Ardbeg . We stopped at the recently re-opened now community owned petrol station in Port Ellen to do our bit to help and got a bit of a surprise when out bounded Jackie to fill our car up ! She was doing her bit for it and in the process had a good view of the Port Ellen Rowing Regatta going on in front of her . It was a shame it started to rain as Islay was been very sporty and as well as the regatta it was also the Islay Ardbeg half Marathon .

So after a full lunch at Beg ( Seafood chowder ,  Supreme of Chicken Lydia with Vegs) , a stop off to see Mark and Helga at Islay studios , we finally departed Islay from Port Askaig on the Afternoon ferry .

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The Spoils….. Purchases , Gifts (Thank You !) and Samples !

Another little adventure over , we will return ! Hogmanay 2014/15    

Islay Visits Part XXXVII – Figures !

Wednesday 30th July 2014 

It’s funny how figures (i.e. of the number variety) play an important part in your life and when you start thinking of them all sorts of things pop into your head . For instance when i opened the two Ardbeg 1978’s i thought back to 1978 , the year the two of us left School , 36 years ago this very summer ! It’s also 36 years ago that we both started work in the very same summer…..

Talking of summers it was 30 years ago this summer i had my very first holiday in Scotland , camping with my old mate Dave Embleton who also introduced me to the delights of Single Malts on that trip (my first Malt was a 10yo Macallan) . Wow 30 years of drinking Single Malt Scotch Whisky and according to some i still don’t have a clue about it……

This year has been very special so far ,this year we done our first Whisky Festival on the ‘other’ side of the table , serving up Amrut to the good people of Newcastle standing in for Mr Amrut himself Ashok. We must have done something right as he’s asked us to do another 3 ! We took our first trip together outside of the UK (my first flight ) to Toronto , where we done our first Whisky Masterclass on the ‘other’ side of the table at the Spirit of Toronto Whisky Gala, This one mustn’t have went so well as no one’s asked us to do another one…… LOL!!!! (only kidding Johanna , Melanie keeps telling me how good i was !) 

  Todays date is the most important figure , the 30th of July , it was on this day i got married to the most important Woman in my life , Melanie , Twenty years ago ! Where has the time gone ? For 15 of those twenty years we have been coming to this beautiful isle , this is our 37th visit (hence the part XXXVII of the title for those of you of a slow disposition…..) , 10 years ago we spent our 10th anniversary on the Isle ( at the Old School , Ardbeg ) , Ardbeg even had a special bottle on sale on that visit , the 1990 for Japan at £60 (not for our 10th anniversary i hasten to add…..)  .

So what are we doing today ? We’ll probably making a lot of people sick with our lovey dovey ness LOL ! We’ll definitely be going out for a meal at our favourite eatery tonight and i dare say a fair bit of Alcohol will be consumed along the way……

To My Gorgeous Wife , Happy Twentieth Wedding Anniversary Darling !

There are many more to come !!!! 

Islay Visits PartXXXVII – Now where were we?

Wednesday 23rd July

Seeing it was such another glorious day we decided on a short walk , we headed off down south to Kilnaughton bay for a walk around to the Singing Sands . The bay was very busy with sunbathers so we parked up beside the Cemetery and walked around the bay itself .

(click on photos to see full size)

2014_07_23_1One of the Beautifully maintained Cemeteries 2014_07_23_2The View across Kilnaughton Bay to Port Ellen
2014_07_23_3Port Ellen Maltings 2014_07_23_4The Singing Sands
2014_07_23_5View across to Port Ellen 2014_07_23_6Melanie Sunbathing

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Carraig Fhada Lighthouse

After a glorious afternoon on the beach we headed back to Lyrabus to carry on the sun worshipping outside the cottage . On this trip we haven’t had many encounters with the local Raptor population , tonights was the closest we seen , it was down the bottom of the field and across the road , thank god for long , decent Canon Glass ! the first one is the actual view and the second is zoomed in thanks to computer software . 

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For Tea we we had a rather nice Islay Sirloin Steak washed down with a lovely fruity Le Clos Jordanne Twenty Mile Bench 2009 Pinot Noir .

tonights tea

The evening was ended with a few drams and a bit chat in the daftmill chatroom .

Thursday 24th July

Today was a bit of an easy day , we headed off to lunch at Ardbeg to start with , Melanie had a Prawn with Marie Rose sauce Salad and i had  Chicken Strips in an Ardbeg Pepper sauce with rice , we both pigged out with a pudding of Strawberries , fresh cream and ice cream . After a bit of sun bathing at the pier we had a drive along Kildalton before heading back to Lyrabus to freshen up .

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The view from Ardbeg Pier

We headed over to Bowmore in the evening to pay the Nippy Chippy van our first visit of 2014 , Fish suppers all round !

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Needless to say the weather in Bowmore was stunning this evening !

On returning to the Cottage it was time for a glass of wine……

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Pillitteri 2012 Pinot Grigio

Nose – Florally , smells of old fashioned apples .
Palate – Fizz of summer freshness , smooth and zesty
Comment – Another Fantastic wine from Ontario

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The Girls appeared for their treats !

 

Friday 25th July

The final day of the first week (don’t you just love it when you know there’s another week to go ?) , the sun was shining so we headed off down The Rhinns for a walk around Port Wemyss and Portnahaven . We’d been to Portnahaven a few times but never really bothered with Port Wemyss for some reason ! It was a glorious walk in probably the hottest temperatures of the week…….

2014_07_25_01One of the old landings 2014_07_25_02Across the water
2014_07_25_03Melanie relaxing ! 2014_07_25_04Portnahaven
2014_07_25_05Along the Street 2014_07_25_06The Good Old days
2014_07_25_07Flowers 2014_07_25_08A street in Port Wemyss
2014_07_25_09The Coastal Walk 2014_07_25_10The Landing

On the way back up The Rhinns we popped in for a natter with Martine (Nouet) , she also gave us a try of her remarkable 2001 First fill Barrel of Port Charlotte , probably one of the best PC’s i’ve tried , loaded with tropical fruit , the familiar PC ‘ashes’ and it is the proverbial ‘dying bonfire on the beach’ , Brilliant ! Then after a slight detour to Bowmore to pick up some supplies it was back to the cottage to have a bite to eat and a drink in the sweltering evening heat . In all the time we’ve been coming to Islay i cannot remember such a spell of sunny days !

Tonights wine delight……. 

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Peller Estates 2012 Chardonnay

Nose – clean and fresh nose , green fruits
Palate –  green and tropical fruits , smooth across the palate .
Comment – a very smooth chardonnay , no a bit of tarteness like a few other chardonnays I’ve had from other places .

The continuing Islay Visit Part XXXVII

Tuesday 22nd July

Turned into a bit of a quiet day activity wise (it’s allowed to , we’re on holiday!) , first off we drove across to Machir Bay where it was a bit blowy off the Atlantic , then we headed across to Bruichladdich to say hello to our good friend Mary (McGregor) and pick up some cask samples . After a bit of a blether we headed down to Ardbeg for a bite to eat but decided to give it a miss when we saw the crowd that was there ! So it was back to Bowmore for a coffee at Roys with a slice of possibly the best Lemon Drizzle Cake i’ve ever had ! Wherever we go for coffee/tea and cakes we have to say the home baking is exceptional on Islay ! Then it was a visit to the Islay Whisky Shop next door and i actually purchased a bottle there ! I’m a bit of a sucker for an aged Bunnahabhain so when i saw this 1991 22yo from a sherry cask at £65 i was sold (even though it’s only 46%)…..

(click on photo to see full size)

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Then it was back to the Cottage for an afternoon and evening of whisky drinking and messing around with the 400mm lens on the 6D…….

bowmorethe same previous view of Bowmore with the 400 lens 

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One of the farm breed Heilan Ponies

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What i think are the new Kilchoman Warehouses in Bruichladdich

Tasting Notes……

Lagavulin 2014 Feis Ile

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54.7% Distilled 1995 Bottled 2014

Burnished Gold / Orange Marmalade in Colour , a wonderful sherried Lagavulin nose , smoky as you’d expect , touch of red and dried fruits , Christmas cake dough and bonfires on the beach .A delight on the palate again lots of smoke and Christmas cake . Also Cola Cubes sweets and dry sherry . The finish is long and smoky sherry .

Once again Iain has excelled at what he does best , finding the perfect Lagavulin Sherry casks to go into a Feis Ile bottling , at £99 it is good value for a 19yo Islay . Very recommended !!!

Ardbeg 1978 O.b.

1978 was a bit of a significant year in our lives , we both left school in the summer of this year (36 years ago !) and we both started work not long after , it was also a pretty good year for Ardbeg…….

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A beautiful gold colour in the glass with lovely oily legs , loads of oak on the nose at first , then the Ardbeg-dine (as in Iodine but Ardbegs own special version) with a slight hint of peat and creamy coffee . On the palate again there’s creamy coffee , oak , touch of peat and the ‘dine . The finish is quite long with a lovely sweetness mingling with the peat and ‘dine  . It’s good to bring a special Beg ‘Home’ 16 years after it left  ! Beg as it used to be !

SOS 1978 22yo Casks 1999/2000

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A slightly lighter gold in colour than the O.b. , not as much oak on the nose as the O.b. more farm yardie than anything else and very vegetal . Eventually you get Creamy Coffee and Chocolate coming through , not much peat or Ardbeg-dine . Very relaxed on the palate at first for Cask Strength but it does eventually kick in , more peat here with the ‘dine , it does resemble a beg but not one as in the 74’s , 75’s and 76’s , not even the beautiful monster that is the 77 O.b. . The Finish is long and….. well peaty , vegetal but definitely Beg !

Not ya standard Beg but I love it ! It does make you wonder if this is what it’s like at CS (56.9%) what would all the watered down Connoisseur Choices have been like if they’d left them like this ? An absolutely yummy Beg that I’m glad I bought to Islay !

Two Cask Samples……

 

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Port Charlotte 2002 Spirit of Islay Cask

OMG! This has progressed so much since I last tried it, there is now a strong hint of the Sherry Cask, there wasn’t before. The nose is of a dying bonfire on a beach mixing in with the sherry , it has all the hallmarks of the PC spirit , the palate is very chewy but the bonfire / ashes theme continues, the finish is very long. To me Port Charlotte has been the success of the distillery , i’ve bottled to excellent casks so far and this third one looks like it will be the same ! Jim had a sniff of this at the distillery and his eyes nearly popped out ! He remarked on a boot polish smell and what a cracking spirit it was . 3 more years to go…..

Bruichladdich 2008 Spirit of Islay II Cask

Still quite young (drawn days before its 6th birthday) but it has the Laddie characteristics, on the nose it smells wonderful, creamy toffee, green fruits, vanilla and coffee (?). On the palate it is still very spirity, he’ll of a kick (guess it’s still in the high 60 s ABV Wise) but it’s getting there! Addition of water calms the palate down a bit. Another 4 years for this should see the palate loose it’s spiritiness and it develope into a cracking Laddie .

Islay Visit Part XXXVII The Second Instalment !

Sunday 20th July (Continued)

After a bit natter to Jackie about life on the Isle (including the new community run Petrol Station at Port Ellen ) we headed back to Lyrabus to spend the night sitting in the porch enjoying the evening summer sunshine with a glass or two of Canadian wine…….

Norman Hardie 2011 Chardonnay Unfiltered

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Nose – Very fruity on the nose , green fruits – apples , pears and gooseberries ,
Palate – thick on the palate , again green fruits with a touch of oak
Comment – Class in a glass ! a lovely white wine that goes down exceedingly well .

(Click on the photos for full size)

Neighbourly get together

Neighbourly get together

across the Loch…..

Monday 21st July

Woke up to a bit of a misty morning weather wise but that wasn’t to last long , it turned out to be a bit of a scorcher ! So hot even the coos decided to go down to the beach !

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The morning was spent getting in a few more supplies and catching up with people , first stop was The Islay House Square where we bumped into Mark Unsworth on our way to Islay Ales . It’s good to hear he’s having a good year doing lots of good photographic business . Then it was on to Islay Ales find Paul , Steve and the gang hard at work (yes even Steve…. LOL!) , a few bottles were picked up along with a couple of new glasses . Then it was off to Bowmore to pick up a few bits and pieces before returning to the cottage via the Bridgend Hotel (for a Coffee and Scone break ) .

In the Afternoon we decided to have a short walk along the road in the direction of Gruinart , it was absolutely beautiful , weather and scenery wise , we’re now looking a bit Ian Gray Lobsterish now !

Gruinart in the Distance

Gruinart in the Distance

Melanie on the bridge

Melanie on the bridge

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The road to Nowhere....

The road to Nowhere….

Our cottage from the road

Our cottage from the road

In the beautiful Sunshine I also took another panoramic shot from the cottage , the heat also drove me to try a bottle or two of the Islay Ales (the Single Malt and Saligo )……

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After a bite to eat it was down to the business of sitting in the sun porch while enjoying a glass or two of Canadian Wine while watching the world and the two ponies wander by…….

Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve 2011 Chardonnay

Nose – A lot of Grapefruit / Citric on the nose. Quite fresh and sweet.
Palate – Lots of green fruits ( apples , pears , gooseberries ) , thick across the palate but silky smooth .
Comment – Another delicious wine from Niagara that goes down rather well .

Islay Visit Part XXXVII

Once again it’s time for our annual Summer Holiday , a little earlier than normal , a new place of residency and setting off for the ferry a little earlier than normal ! With taking our holidays a couple of weeks earlier than normal we couldn’t get Maol Buidhe so a new cottage was sought . We decided on one in an area we’d never stopped in before , on the edge of the Rhinns between Bridgend and Bruichladdich at a place called Lyrabus (about 1 1/2 miles up the Gruinart road from Loch Indaal ) .  We also had to get an earlier ferry because the 1pm one sold out fast ! So we left Newcastle at 9.30pm on the Friday night to catch the 7am one from kennacraig .

Saturday 19th July 

Arriving at about 4am we decided to get our heads down for a nap in the car , it had been a pretty uneventful journey up , weather had been decent and the roads quiet . At 6.30am we boarded Finlaggan where the first priority was the Calmac Breakfast . The weather was fairly dull on the journey over , not much of a view . We arrived at Port Ellen at about 9.20 and seeing we had most of the day to pass before going to the cottage just pottered about . We headed along the South Shore to see some of our favourite spots , Seal bay , Kildalton Church and Claggain Bay , having a bit of a close encounter with a few of the native wildlife species , A Roe Deer , a Buzzard (that nearly flew into the windscreen) and a Peahen and Chicks that thought it would be a good idea to rest on the road !

On the way back to PE we stopped at Lagavulin to see if there were any Feis Ile bottles left , there were , so we picked up 2 and a 12yo 2013 release .

(To see full size click on the photos)

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We then headed for Bowmore to pick up a few supplies and have a Coffee and a Cake at Roys , After a bit more drive about we had a drink in The Bridgend Hotel where Lorna showed up the new menus for Katies Bar and the restaurant . We finally got to the Lyrabus Croft at just before 4 . After settling in and having a bite to eat we sat in the lovely Sun Lounge admiring the view and having a drink or three before hitting the sack……

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(Larger file than normal ! I’ll be doing another one later when it’s a bit brighter !) 

Tonights Canadian Wine…… Crush 2012 Pinot Grigio – Chardonnay 

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Nose – sun shining on citric fruit , very fresh and a subtle floraliness .

Palate – very soft peach ,pear juice , lemon citric and a touch oak .

Comment – very refreshing , a perfect accompaniment to a summers evening on Islay (or possibly anywhere really nice!).

Sunday 20th July

Woke up to a rather dull morning but by the time we’d had breakfast the sun was out ! So off we headed for a little drive and for lunch at Ardbeg ! We’ve been eating in the Old Kiln ever since we first came across 15 years ago and we’ve never had a bad meal and this one didn’t let us down ! We started off with the Creamy Prawn cocktail , it could have been a main meal in it’s own right ! And both went for the main , Fillet of Seabass in a creamy wine sauce with pea puree and sauted potatoes , Divine ! At some point Jackie thrust a taster of the new Kildalton in my hand……

Ardbeg Kildalton 46%

Bright Gold in colour , quite sherried initially on the nose , youngish peat and lemon , reminds me of the Young Uigeadail….. The palate has more than a hint of sherry to begin with , then the usual Ardbeg Traits , though it does seem rather young . quite a long finish with peat quite a lot of peat actually .

Definitely reminds me of the Young Oogie! 

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One of the next door Neighhhh bours….. 

To be continued

A Festive Duo !

Not sure whether the titles right but according to the online dictionary Festive – adjective – relating to a festival .So these do relate to a festival ! So once again the Feis Ile (Islay Festival) has been and gone and all mayhem has broken out on Facebook , Twitter and assorted Forums about the availability – or lack of – of certain Feis Ile (Festival) Bottlings via the Internet . The one thing i have learned over the past few years is that no matter what the companies do they are going to get moans/whinges/abuse thrown at them from all directions . Sometimes i wonder why they bother , this year the main one’s seem to have been….. Ardbeg – Lack of bottles and Website Farts (it easier to say that than technical things….) and Laphroaig – the cost , and 1 bottle per person limit (unlike last years numerous BPP and loads of people not getting one…..) . I had no problem getting either , went on the Laphroaig site ordered one through the shop (as did my wife ) , went on RMW ordered one Ardbeg Nae bother . Some people have went way OTT with their postings about these releases ,  Just remember (putting on best Brian Conley voice) “It’s only a Bottle !!!!”

While i’m here i’m going to say something about the couriers everyone seems to be using , i never had any bother with Parcelforce , the parcel was delivered or took to the local P.O. This week i’ve had several parcels delivered from drinks related firms (not just these two) who now seem to avoid Parcelforce like the plague , I would like the choice please when ordering of using either Parcelforce (at extra cost if necessary) or the Courier of your desired choice as i’d rather go to the local Post Office to pick it up than (A) return home to find a Package containing bottles in full view of everyone getting soaked by the rain or (B) the parcel left with someone i don’t know down the street and then finding the package has been opened !!!   <End of Rant>

So to the Tasting Notes……

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Ardbeg Auriverdes

I’ll not bother with the marketing bumf i’m sure everyone knows about it now , it’s burnished gold in colour , initial nosing doesn’t suggest it’s nearly 50% ABV (49.9%) , it seems quite lightweight , a strange nose , light peat , a touch of chocolate coffee and a slight menthol note . There is also a strong note of the Toasted ends , similar to the 1998 1189 and 1190 releases but not as strong . The palate is more akin to a standard Ardbeg , starting with creamy coffee , there is more of a stronger vanilla / bourbon note (again like the 1189/1190 but not as strong) , it is lovely and smooth across the tongue with a nice smokiness to it  . The finish is long , smoky and vanilla with a touch of peat .

While not your usual Ardbeg it is refreshing change and very easy drinking .        

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2014

I think this is the first time knowingly i’ve had a whisky that’s been anywhere near an Amontillado cask (or is it just  hoggies seasoned with Amontillado ?) . Bottled at 51.4%ABV it is a bright gold colour almost going on to Marmalade / Irn bru ! The initial nose is quite lemony , then earthy dunnage warehouses , . there’s quite a vanilla hit  , eventually the Seashoreness / Farm yard of Laphroaig drifts in . A very pleasant nose . Very dry across the palate but bags of Laphroaig goodness everywhere ( unlike the <Cough> Select <Cough> ) , Not knowing what this type of sherry tastes like i can’t say how much of an effect it has had on it but there seems to be a Barley Sugar type taste in this one that i’ve never encountered in any other Big L . The Finish is definitely Laphroaig , Big , long , peaty , medicinal and Farm yardie .  

A Cracking Laphroaig , doesn’t disappoint , where would i place it within the other recent releases from Laphroaig ? Well above the Select but below the Batch 006 10yo CS   .