Islay with EASA axel leupold's june 2015 whisky connoisseur toUr of Islay

On our way to Islay!

Itinerary

Islay Whisky Discovery Tour tailored for Axel Leupold

Sunday 14th June

* 17:05 - Personal pick-up by Denis at Edinburgh Airport

* 18:00 - Informal barbecue at Glenbervie Golf Club.

* 19:30 - Check in at Colessio Hotel, Stirling

Monday 15th June

* 5:45am - Pick Up by Denis at Colessio Hotel, Stirling and drive to Ferry port at Kennacraig

* 9:45am - Depart on Ferry to Port Ellen, Islay arriving at 11:55am

* Commence the first of 3 sections of our tour by visiting the distilleries on the west side of Islay finishing off with a distillery tour At Bowmore

o Bruichladdich was in " silent time" but had a very well-stocked shop and Axel was able to pick up 2 very valuable examples.

o Bowmore - Craftsman's Tour at 1:30pm-3:30. - the most Comprehensive tour offered.

We were joined by David and Louise who hail now from Vancouver in Canada. David writes his own whisky blog and was clearly very knowledgeable. Our tour guide was local "character" heather who gave us the whole history of Bowmore over a very entertaining 2 hours. We were given a complete tour of the facilities including turning the malting barley by hand using the very heavy rakes. We were then admitted to "Vault 1" which contains some of Bowmore's most valuable examples of their craft. We tasted at least 4 excellent drams. Afterwards I invited David and Louise back to The Inns By the Loch to have a taste of my Springbank 18 year-old, which seemed to meet with everyone's approval....

Axel turning the malt just like a professional!

* Evening - Dinner at The Bridgend Hotel with Our hosts Neil and Carol Scott who had welcomed us earlier in the day. We all had a very pleasant dinner then Axel and I had a nightcap at the Harbour Inn.

Tuesday 16th June

On Tuesday morning we started with a shirt visit to Kilchoman Distillery, set in a converted farmhouse. Kilchoman is the only distillery on Islay which conducts the whole process in house - including growing its own barley and malting it in their own barns. We then went for a very pleasant drive through Port Charlotte where there used to be a distillery. The name is now copyrighted by Bruichladdich but it is unlikely at present if they will ever reopen a distillery there. From there we moved on to Port Wemyss, a beautiful little village on the edge of the Sound of Islay.

After returning to to the Inns By the Loch Neil kindly took over the driving so that we could enjoy our tour of Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg to the maximum.

o Laphroaig... We spent a short time taking pictures and visiting the very well appointed shop where both of us purchased some special examples. Neil then drove us on to Lagavulin

Neil was kind enough to wait as we looked around the premises and shop at Laphroaig. Both of us bought some special cask strength examples before Neil drove us along the road to Lagavulin.

Axel at Laphroaig's excellent Visitor Centre
At the entrance to Lagavulin

Lagavulin - since our major objective today was to enjoy the Ardbeg Craftsman Tour to the full we did not have much time to spend at Lagavulin and we both found it rather poorly presented and stocked so we decided to start walking to Ardbeg so as we would be in good time for our special "Decades" tour and tasting

Axel sets out on foot from Lagavulin to Ardbeg With Denis

Ardbeg 2:00pm - "Decades" tour of Ardbeg sampling from a number of versions of Ardbeg malts over the years (Masterclass). Our tour guide Dougie was a local who had plenty of funny stories from his youth to complement his very knowledgeable tour. The final section was a tasting of Ardbeg examples going back 40 years ( not a very good example, as it turned out). Once again Axel and I found a few very interesting bottles to buy.

We bumped into David and Louise again at Ardbeg
Dougie with the 4 decades examples

o 4:30pm Return with Neil to accommodation in Bowmore

o Evening - Dinner at The Harbour Inn. Axel and I had a wonderful, unique dinner which included appropriate Bowmore whiskies along with each course. The Halibut dish in particular was sensational!

Wednesday 17th June. After our chat with David the day before I offered to take Axel to Lagavulin to sample their major editions. We were able to also fit in a visit to the Islay Woolen Mill and see their ancient, yet still operating equipment. From there we drove north to Bunnahbhain where Axel was booked into a 1pm tour. Denis worked in the car and shopped at the visitor centre while Axel had a very comprehensive tour of the distillery including 2 very special versions. It took so long that we only had a limited time to drop in on Caol Ila and take some pictures before rushing to the Port Askaig ferry port. We made it with 15 minutes to spare. Mission Accomplished ! All of Islay's distilleries visited in our 3 - day trip!

Denis ready to zoom to Caol Ila after Axel's tour of Bunnahabhain
The beautiful setting at Caol Ila

* 15:30 Ferry leaves from Port Askaig to Kennacraig arriving 17:25

Bye Bye Islay!

* Drive to St Andrews, stopping for a wonderful steak at the beautiful resort of Gleneagles where the 2014 Ryder Cup was hosted.

Around 10:00 pm Denis dropped Axel off at the Hotel Du Vin ready to start his intensive English course with Lauren the following day!

Credits:

Created with images by mrpattersonsir - "islay"

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