Enjoy a trip to the Island of Islay off the west coast of Scotland to gain an in depth knowledge of Islay whiskies. Be guided (and driven!) around this small Hebridean Island famous for the eight whisky distilleries on the wonderful rugged coastline influenced by salty sea spray and peat smoke. Taste whisky straight from the barrel  – no other tour offers this! We will enjoy whisky tasting amidst the wonderful countryside, wildlife and culture that are all ingredients in creating these world class whiskies.

Tours depart Edinburgh 8am, Glasgow 9.15am, returning at 6pm and 7pm on day 4.

Day 1

Departing Edinburgh at 8.00am, Glasgow at 9.00am, we pass Loch Lomond, Scotland’s largest Loch. Stop for fantastic views of ruined Kilchurn Castle on the banks of Loch Awe. Nestling beneath the steep cliff that overlooks the fishing port of Oban, is Oban distillery, one of Scotland’s oldest sources of single malt scotch whisky is but a stone’s throw from the sea. Enjoy a tour of Oban distillery and collect your free Classic Malts passport and gain your first stamp! Learn about ancient Scotland and the Kingdom of Dalriada in Kilmartin Glen on your way to the sea ferry to the Isle of Islay. Islay is famous for friendly people, easy to spot wildlife and whisky.

After the short drive to Bowmore settle in to your beautifully restored distillery cottage or Bed and Breakfast. You will find a choice of places to eat in Bowmore from pub food to fine dining. Enjoy some fantastic whisky bars.

Day 2

We visit the south east corner of Islay famous Laphroaig, Lagavullin and Ardbeg distilleries and pass the Port Ellen maltings, providing most of the barley for Islay distilleries.

These southern distilleries are the most powerful, producing medium-bodied whiskies, saturated with peat-smoke, brine and iodine. Not only do these distilleries use heavily peated malt (54 ppm at Ardbeg, 40 ppm at Laphroaig), they use the island’s brown water for every stage of production.

Enjoy a tour of the Lagavulin distillery with warehouseman Ian and a taste of whisky straight from the casks in the warehouse. Enjoy tasting a new spirit, an 8, a 16, and a 40 year old from Ian’s first year working at Lagavulin. Enjoy a tour and a couple of drams at Laphroig where they still malt their own barley, lunch and couple of drams at Ardbeg in the old malting barn and Enjoy a short walk along the coastline, taking in the scenery and wildlife. We will look for seals on the coast and visit Kildalton Celtic cross.

 

 

Day 3

Visit Bowmore Distillery has stood on the shores of Loch Indaal, since 1779. Bowmore Distillery is one of an ever decreasing handful of distilleries to produce its own floor malted barley. The barley is still laboriously hand turned, by the Maltman, using the traditional wooden malt shovel. Enjoy a tour and a couple of drams

Taste a less heavily peated and lighter Islay malt at Bruichladdich distillery and see their bottling plant, the only one on the island. In the fields you may see the precious barley growing for use in the production of the Islay malts.

Enjoy lunch at Kilchoman distillery (pronounced kilhoman) and a short walk along beach before a tour of the distillery itself. Established in 2005, it is a farm distillery and the first to be built on Islay for 124 years. Kilchoman gives everyone the opportunity to see all that is best in the grass-roots traditions of malt whisky distilling and a dram. Visit the historic site of Finlaggan, the home to the Lords of the Isles. Enjoy a visit to the Islay Brewery to taste some delicious handcrafted, high quality cask and bottle conditioned beers also known as real ale, enjoy local crafts and the tranquil walled garden. Taste oysters fresh from the local oyster farm with refreshments before heading back to Bowmore for the evening.

There is the option to try an afternoon round of Links golf or trout fishing.

Day 4

Take a morning ferry from Port Ellen harbour past Laphroaig, Lagavulin and then Ardbeg distilleries and around the Isle of Texa. We return again to the mainland and visit the picturesque town of Inverary. Here you can visit the famous whisky shop that offers mail-order. You can also make an optional visit to Inverary Castle. We wind our way back along the shores of Loch Fyne and stop at the beautiful village of Luss on the bonnie banks for Loch Lomond. We arreve back in Glasgow around 5.30pm, Edinburgh around 6.30pm.

Each whisky distillery has a silent season when they close for a few weeks a year for maintenance. Tours still run, there’s just no production. Caol Ila, the largest distillery, is due to close for visitors from June 2011 due to further expansion. Port Ellen pier has suffered damage in the storms so all Islay ferries may be operating from Port Askaig in 2011.

Inclusions:

1. 3 nights accommodation in a beautifully restored Bowmore distillery cottage or 3/4 star en-suite B&B in Bowmore town. Breakfast included.

2. Transport and guiding by mini-coach from the stunning city of Edinburgh or art-house  Glasgow

3. Distillery tours of Oban, Laphroaig, Bowmore and Kilchoman and a tasting at Ardbeg and Bruichladdich

4. Unique experience of Lagavulin warehouse demonstration with opportunity to sample whiskies straight from the casks

5. Brewery tasting

6. Professional driver /guide

7. Free tea and coffee

8. Return ferries

Exclusions:

1. An evening of Scottish Whisky in Edinburgh – tasting and dinner – £60

2. Optional extra of £30.00 per person. Return home with a small bottle of your perfect whisky!

3. Optional extra: Trout fishing on the banks of Loch Gorm at is £30 including rod hire from Ballinaby Farm

4. Optional extra: A round of golf at the Machrie Links course is £69 plus £10 club hire. Golfers must be of a reasonable standard. More information can be found at www.machrie.com

5. Evening meals, lunches and drinks outside of the included tastings.