Our first port of call is Bunnahabhain and their pier side open day. Last year, the distillery open day was a little waterlogged and chilly, but not this time around. Bathed in sunlight, the place looked exceptionally rustic, coupled with the mini highland games, laid out on the lawns to the back of the distillery.
Caskstrength opted for a little display of gentlemanly prowess by having a go at the caber tossing. Not one to be outdone, Harrison threw first and made a total dog's dinner of the thing, with the angle of the fallen caber looking more like a badly pitched tent pole. Ridley however used a fairly uncommon throw based on similar principles to that of the Duckworth-Lewis Method, involving weather systems, trajectory and alcoholic beverage consumption. It would prove to be a triumphant move and a despondent and defeated Harrison slunk off to find a consolation whisky. Fortunately, a dram of Bunna' 18yo was located, alongside a tasty cup of freshly flash-fried local scallops.
Our time at the distillery was limited so we popped over to Bruichladdich for a catch up and a try of their festival release, Nostalgia - a big bold beast distilled in 1992 and matured in a Barolo cask, with rich dark fruity overtones and a touch of dryness.
Our next whistle stop visit was over at Kilchoman for a little snack (soup of the day and a tuna roll always fix a hangover) and a dram of the new Machir Bay release. This release has been buzzing amongst other Feis goers so we thought it high time we gave it a try.
Kilchoman - Machir Bay - NAS - 46%
Nose: Smoke and toasted marshmallow intertwined with hints of vanilla, elderflower and spearmint.
Palate: Delicate for a smoky whisky with cream cheese softness, underpinned with banana milkshake and smoke.
Finish: Warming, long and lingering with vanilla pods and spices.
Overall: One of the best whiskies we've tried on this trip, it belies its age and, at less than £40 a bottle, could well become a session whisky for peated single malt lover.
A short while later and feeling refreshed and revitalised, we decided to spend the evening exploring the island's rich history of illicit distillation, particularly retracing the long lost distilleries of the southern shore- all will be revealed in our next post!