A trip to
Orkney Speyside et al.
(day 7, 8 and 9)
Tumbling down: Tyndrum, Inverary, Loch Fyne and the second unplanned distillery visit: Glengoyne.
(Forward to Day 10 or back to Days 5-6 / Day 4 / Day 3 / Day 2 / Day 1)
In the previous episode our travellers had to escape a swarm of thirsty midges by retreating inside the campervan for the night. Unfortunately, the siege wasn’t broken during the night, and as Gianluigi stuck his nose outside the swarm promptly attacked him. So, we quickly drove back to Corran to search for a midges-free area to have breakfast. Along the way there weren’t many bars open (including the one in front of the Corran ferry, coincidentally closed on Tuesdays), so we drove directly to Fort William.
Now, we guess whisky fans will already know where this is going…and yes, we had our coffee at the mystical Ben Nevis distillery, because why not? It was actually the third time we stopped by. The first time was when we visited the distillery in 2019, when being newbies meant we did not get a bottle of their 10y single malt, which we regretted as it was very cheap at the time (well, at least we got one of the 8y Glencoe blended malt, loved it!). Then, in 2020 we stopped on our way to Skye, but the Ben Nevis 10y was long gone, so we consoled ourselves with another bottle of the Glencoe (our first bottle was long gone as well). This time (which we bet won’t be the last), “experience + luck = we finally got our bottle of the 10y”, recently re-released with a slightly different label. We also tasted their new core range expression Core Leis, NAS but still unchill filtered, not artificially coloured and bottled at a very nice 46%.
Moving on, we didn’t have a clear plan for the next few days, but two things were certain: we wanted to eat west-coast seafood for lunch and, more importantly, after two nights spent in the wild and being almost eaten alive, we needed the facilities of a camping. The first of the two was quite easy, we drove until we found one which was looking good enough, at Port Appin Pierhouse Hotel: delicious food! (Also, they seemed to have a good whisky selection.) The second turned out to be tricky. We decided to stop at Tyndrum, where we had identified a couple of options for the camping. On our way there we called one of the two and we reserved our pitch. What we didn’t know, was that there is a camping with the same name in England, about 400mi from Tyndrum…so when we arrived at the check-in, guess which one of the two we had reserved? (facepalm!) Fortunately, they had one last pitch available, and maybe to say thanks we decided to stay two nights! After a shower, a pint, and a walk to the Green Welly shop (we resisted the temptation to buy their exclusive North Star “An Orkney” 13y, but we got a couple of miniatures), we grilled again some yummy burgers bought on the way. A dram, and then off to a very deserved and restful sleep.
Day #8 was supposed to be restful, and it was indeed! We opted for a walk, since the day was particularly sunny and warm, so we got a bus to Bridge of Orchy and we walked back to Tyndrum almost 12k on the path of the West Highland Way. The landscape during the walk was really stunning!
Back in Tyndrum we didn’t do much, a couple of pints, we (again) resisted the temptation to go back and get that Orkney from the Green Welly shop, and we managed to catch up with the Quarter Gill tasting we had missed a few days before when in Speyside.
On day #9, the second to last day of our holiday, we weren’t as lucky with the weather as the day before. We drove towards Loch Lomond under a deep grey sky, and we only stopped for a coffee in Tarbert. Our intention was to spend a day at the lake, but with such a bad weather we decided to keep driving instead, direction Inveraray. The route was quite scenic, so after briefly visiting the village of Inveraray and walking around the castle, we headed back to the Loch Fyne Oysters restaurant to grab some (delicious) seafood to-go, and we had our lunch at the Rest and Be Thankful stop. This is a small but quite scenic picnic area on the A83 with benches to enjoy the landscape while having a snack. Still overcast, but truly breath-taking.
We drove back to Loch Lomond, but in the afternoon the day didn’t open up. At this point we had an idea: why don’t try to visit the Glengoyne Distillery? We called right away, and fortunately there were still a few spots for the last tasting of the day. Gianluigi had already visited the distillery during a field-trip of a 2018 scientific conference held in Glasgow, but being in a very big group the experience at the time wasn’t great. This time too, the tasting room was full, quite surprisingly considering the period. There were maybe around 15 people, however at very distanced tables with all safety measures in place. The quite generous tasting consisted in 50ml bottles, paired with chocolates. The drams were their flagship 10y, the 18y, and the Legacy Chapter II, a non-age statement matured mostly in ex-bourbon casks and bottled at 47%.
The tasting was smooth and nice, we particularly appreciated the last one as the ex-bourbon casks matured whiskies have been growing on us for quite a while. Unfortunately the prices at the shop were a bit higher than our expectations, so we grabbed just a Glengoyne 12y miniature to pair with one of the two tastings (Gianluigi had to drive) and complete the core range for a vertical tasting at home in the future (which we still have to do, by the way).
We left the distillery very happy nonetheless, heading towards Rowardennan, on Loch Lomond, where we were going to spend the night before the next morning adventure. As we’re both big Still Game fans, we couldn’t help not having a pint at the Clansman Pub!!!
Price: £25.00 pp (August 2021)
Tasting: 3 5cl bottles, Glengoyne 10y, 18y, Legacy Chapter II, plus chocolate
Target: whisky novices and enthusiasts
Value for money: very good
Highlights: the chocolate and the whisky wheel
Things we did not like: shop bottles slightly overpriced