June 9, 2010
After two attempts at vacation this year (Mayan Riviera and New York) fell through, I finally took the proverbial bull by the horns and booked a trip.
As this was something I would be doing on my own, the options were wide open. I initially considered heading back to Europe (would love to revisit Paris or London…maybe Rome again). I also thought about hitting Thailand with my buddy Paul. I think the foremost destination in mind however, was Egypt. Having seen Scott’s photo montage from his journey there last year, and having my own far-reaching interest in Ancient Egypt, I was nearly decided.
I am still uncertain as to what finally toppled me in a completely different direction. I think it may have been reading ‘Whisky Magazine’. The next thing I knew, I was focusing on Scotland. Islay, in particular. I spoke with David Michiels at Willow Park, who suggested 4 days minimum on Islay. I started to plan for this, thinking that I would then beeline it North (East) for Speyside. There is a nifty little pub in the Inverness region I’d love to check, and how truly epic would it be to sip a Laphroaig at Loch Ness?
I thought better of this little sidetrip in the end. Instead, I will concentrate my entire time away on Islay. This will give me the opportunity to slow down and enjoy Island life the way it was meant to be experienced.
Islay is a small island off the Southwest coast of Scotland. From coast to coast it is 30km by 40km. Just wee. Though miniscule, relatively speaking, Islay is huge in the whisky world. It is home to no less than 8 distilleries (Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Caol Ila, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Bunnhabhain and Kilchoman), and epitomizes what we know of peated whisky. These bold flavors have long held a spot in my heart (as the gents here will attest), so the opportunity to visit the birthplace of these whiskies was well-nigh undeniable.
So…I have booked a flight to Glasgow. From there I will bus it over to Kennacraig to meet the ferry to either Port Ellen or Port Askaig on Islay. I will most likely settle down in Port Charlotte as a base, and branch out from there. Initial thoughts are to rent a car and have the freedom to go where and when I please. We’ll see.
So far…my only intentions are to slow down…buy a bottle on my first day…sip whiskies along the coastline…tour the distilleries…meet people…take pictures and video.
Gents…I strongly urge you to plead, whine, whimper and beg your spouses and significant others to be allowed to join me.