A trip to
Orkney Speyside et al.
(day 5 and 6)
Leaving Speyside, direction the West Coast: not California, rather the Morvern peninsula and Nc’Nean.
(Forward to Day 10 / Days 7-8-9 or back to Day 4 / Day 3 / Day 2 / Day 1)
For day #5 we had no distillery visit planned (panic!!), but we had a long drive instead: we needed to reach the Morvern peninsula on the west coast of Scotland. We started the day calmly each one with a run, Gianluigi aimed for 10k and Teresa for 5k. For the record, we both got lost on our respective paths and ran more than planned (trails on the apps are quite different than on the ground).
Aviemore was supposed to be our first stop, but realising the amount of Sunday traffic and people visiting the town, we decided to keep going until the Culloden Battlefield. At the visitor centre, we had a coffee and bought a 5cl miniature for later (a Culloden Battle Highland Single Malt 8y, slightly peated, which we suspect might be a Loch Lomond). We then drove towards Loch Ness: we decided to drive along the southern coast of the lake, which gifted us with some incredible views!
After a quick stop for a beer at Fort Augustus, we drove through Fort William, took the Corran Ferry and finally got to the Morvern peninsula. At this point the adventure started: we aimed for a parking spot on the beach, which was on the side of a very narrow (almost too narrow…) road. Unfortunately, we got there too late – someone had already taken the spot, so we decided to drive to the Lochaline Hotel, where the owner kindly allowed us to use his parking lot on the shore for the night. We thanked him by having a couple of pints at the bar. Waking up on the sound of the sea was very nice, and for the first time since we had left Edinburgh the weather was promising. We drove to the Clach Na Criche park to have breakfast, at this point it was an amazing sunny day already!
The road to the Nc’Nean distillery was harsher than we thought, culminating with half-mile of dirt road. Our van didn’t abandon us though, and we arrived there at the perfect time to start the tour. Since the visitor manager was on a leave, the tasting and tour was guided by the office manager Cindy (aided by her lovely wee dug), which welcomed us with a coffee and a gluten-free brownie! She has been there from the very start of the company, so she knew all the details we were curious about, including how the distillery building was a restored farm on the Drimmin Estate, all the innovation put in place to guarantee the carbon neutrality (recently achieved when we visited), and the challenges that releasing their first expression during a global pandemic brought, including having to get a provisional, and very manual, bottling line.
As usual, the tour ended with a tasting. We had three drams: the newmake spirit, the Nc’Nean botanical spirit (described by Cindy and others as a “gin-whisky hybrid”, as it is done by redistilling their newmake with botanicals at the Kintyre Distillery down south), and finally a dram of the Nc’Nean Single Malt. A few months back we had a taste of the very first batch released in September 2020, which to be honest we found a bit too young. However, the one we tasted there (batch 6) was more complex and deeper in flavour, with the STR casks used (in combination with ex-bourbon ones) having a bigger impact on the whisky.
After the distillery tour we took a long walk in the Drimmin Estate, in particular to visit the gallery of the artist Alan B. Hayman, specialised in landscapes as well as Scottish fauna – some of the paintings were truly stunning! We got back to the van, got a quick but delicious sandwich at a kiosk at the Lochaline docks (which we already knew from a previous trip back from Mull), and we drove to Aoineadh Mor. This was an historical township depopulated during the infamous Highland clearances, where the land was taken from the crofters and given to the lords for their sheep herds. The walk is quite short and not particularly difficult, and it is possible to see the ruins of over a dozen former house buildings, a scar in the Scottish history still visible in this magnificent landscape.
Back to the car park, we thought it was the perfect spot for the night. There was one tiny detail we hadn’t taken into account: MIDGES! After a nice dinner, we had planned to spend the evening reading and having a few drams on the wooden benches outside. Instead, we had to quickly beat a retreat and lock ourselves up in the van to not get eaten alive by those b…. ehm, annoying beasts. We still had the drams, of course.
Price: £15.00 pp (August 2021)
Tasting: 3 drams, new make spirit, botanical spirit and Nc’Nean single malt (batch 6)….plus a coffee and a delicious vegan brownie
Target: everyone, but in particular adventurous people
Value for money: very good
Highlights: the distillery
Things we did not like: nothing