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Easter Break 2019 – Beach and Kilchoman Whiskey

We were all hoping for a lay in this morning but mum was up with Ruby at 0630 and then I was up with DeaconT at 0745 letting mum sleep for longer as she had to get up so early.

Having had a shower, (see my random thoughts on this) we were all packed and ready for a day exploring. Having driven on the Isle of Skye I am used to single track roads but these are even smaller; I love them. Our first destination was to Machir Bay which is a fabulous sandy beach. This is a huge stretch of unspoilt beach, we only saw one other couple, which RubyBloomT also spotted and sprinted after. Given this is on the Atlantic I was surprised at how clean the beach was from litter and tidal debris.

A deserted beach

After all that sprinting the dog had to be tired! A short car trip up from the beach was a cemetery and Kilchoman Church. We were hoping to see some of the old gravestones, one being from the 13th or 14th century, but sadly as the church was in ruins it had been declared an unsafe building and cordoned off.

Kilchoman Church
Kilchoman Cross

Next stop was something I had been looking forward to which was the Whiskey tour at the Kilchoman Distillery . First we all had a bite to eat in the cafe.

As whiskey tours go I was impressed with the honest simplicity of this tour, which is inkeeping with the Islay farm distilling ethics of the company; 100% Islay as their whiskey is called.

The barley is washed and then laid on the floor and turned by hand every 4 hours to enable the malting process. Even during the smoking process it is turned by hand every 4 hours, that is one smoky job.

The malting process

The next stage was mashing where warm water is added to the ground down malt so that the sugars are released. We were given a sample of the mash which was lovely and sweet, but the next container had wort in it, which meant the sugar had been drained off and this was really sour. I wished we had tasted these the other way around!!!

Next came fermentation which is when yeast is added and the magic begins; sugar turns into alcohol. Afterwards we enter the distillation room where the stills help separate the alcohol. The first third is siphoned off as it’s too pure, the last third is also siphoned off for being too weak, but the middle third is the pure gold!!! This feels like it should be part of the Goldilocks and the three bears story. This process is also known as the top and tails.

One of the fermentation stills

The final stage is for the whiskey to put into barrels so that it can mature for however many years the distiller has planned. Unlike other distillers, Kilchoman try to keep to the old ways and ensure the end to end process is all completed on Islay. This is also means that it is bottled here and one of the labels is still put on by hand.

Every bottle of Kilchoman whiskey is bottled and labelled here

After such a great tour I had to purchase my own bottle and as we were on the beach earlier in the day it had to be a bottle of Machir Bay.

Looking forward to this!!

The Easter Trip 2019

Our holidays tend to be much closer to home now, for a variety of reasons but it has to be said the main reason is Ruby Bloom our 8 month old Vizsla. She is part of the family and we can’t bare the thought of putting her into kennels.

Our chosen destination this time was to the Isle of Islay, which was about a four hour drive, but it also included a 2 hour ferry journey as well. Although Ruby has been on a boat on Loch Ness, she hasn’t been on a Ferry before.

We broke the journey up with a leg stretch at Luss on Loch Lomond. This is quite a popular tourist attraction so we ate our sandwiches and headed off to try and find somewhere off the beaten track. It wasn’t much further when we found the ‘Rest and be thankful’ stretch off road which leads up to a fantastic view point. If you take the minor road off to the left you head down a single road. About 400m down the road is a tiny car park next to a wood block. Here you can take a trail that leads up alongside the wood block and goes up to the top of the hill. The views from up hear are even more stunning.

We didn’t quite get to the top as the wind was picking up, we weren’t really prepared for an impromptu walk in the Scottish hills and time was against us as we still had to get to the ferry at Kennacriag. Even Ruby was feeling tired by the time we made it back to the car, but she does cover about four times the distance. She routinely disappeared off into the woods before bouncing back into view like the a kangaroo.

Ruby loves her hill running

The next leg was slow going as we were stuck behind a lorry, but it didn’t matter as the sun wasn’t out and the scenery was stunning. Eventually we made it to Tarbert which was a little picturesque fishing village. Time for another walk, uphill again, to the Tarbert Castle. As normal Ruby wanted to lead the way and if she had her way I would have to run everywhere. Due to my back injuries and physio I have hardly been running in the last year; well and truly lost my hill legs at the moment.

Since DeaconT had done so well at all this walking he was treated to an ice cream. We somehow lost track of time and then realised we had to be at the ferry port in 15 mins. Thankfully it was only a 10 min drive away and we were there in plenty of time. I had the distinct feeling we were the last ones to turn up, seeing as the guy at the checkin booth mentioned us by name as we pulled up. I don’t know what everyone was panicking for as we then parked up for 30 mins and watched as our Ferry came alongside. Even Ruby had time to get out and watch.

“Here comes our Ferry”

I know everyone is wondering about how Ruby coped with a 2 hour ferry journey?! Well after an initial problem of not being able to open the car boot, as we were the last car and the barrier was right up against us. Then we couldn’t find where dogs were permitted, then she slipped her harness (Houdini would be proud) she finally gave up and made herself comfortable on my jumper on the seats. She even figured out that she needed to improvise with the seats as she was too big to lay down! Who said dogs were not smart!

I can lay down on these seats!

We arrived at our cottage near Loch Gorm and quickly unpacked the car as it was getting dark. #DeaconT was already asleep so we had to carry him up to bed. #RubyBloomT was far too excited to explore her new surrounding, including the sheep in the field next door. After a quick meal of pre made spaghetti bolognese (using a Neff hood and Creda Contour oven that looked like it was probably a top of the range model in the 1970s) it was time for bed. Exploring the island begins tomorrow.

Welcome

Welome to my new Blog site, which I will update more frequently than I used to; promise!

Not sure what I will blog about as it all depends on what tickles my fancy at any given time.  This is just a way of learning about what is going on in the world and trying to understand it by writing something on the matter.  My thoughts are probably just a load of rubbish, but I have fun with it!

My old blog site can be found here.

Enjoy.