Woke up bright and early, had breakfast, packed and tidied up and left for Islay at 8:25. A bit later than planned but with still enough time to stop along the way to the ferry. We headed towards Campbeltown past Loch Long where Farslane is situated. This Loch is open to the sea and therefore salt water and tidal. It leads to the Firth of Clyde which is the main sea route to Glasgow. We went past Loch Goill and stopped at Loch Fyne Oyster Bar, Restaurant and Delicatessen. We had espressos and Scottish tablet. This Loch is the longest in Scotland and was once full of herring and oysters. Due to overfishing there are now only aquaculture fishing enterprises for oysters and salmon. We stopped in Inverary at the harbour and drove up to the Castle. The £10 entry fee meant we did not go in. We put £10 fuel into the car. It costs £1.139/l! We bought rolls and an apple at Londis. At 39p it better be a good apple. At 11am the weather turned windy with warnings that ferry services might be affected. We drove the Kintyre Trail and stopped at Tarbert which is a working harbour. The Castle’s ‘keystone’ was used to build the harbour once the castle fell into disrepair in the 1400’s. We had espressos and shortbread at Cafe Ca’ Ora before heading past the West Loch to the Island Ferries. Kennacraig is just a ferry terminal and we caught the Eileanan Innse Gall to Islay. There were lots of long swells on the way. We got off at Port Askaig where the weather was windy but warm (18 degrees). We then drove from the North of the island southwards to Port Ellen. Just after the airfields are the Laphroaig peat fields. Peat is harvested from April to September and left to the elements to provide the smoke needed for the whisky. Our first stop was at Lagavulin which was founded in1816. This is nothing more than a whisky store and not worth the stop unless you want to do a tour. Next stop was Ardbeg, founded in 1815. There is a wash still at the entrance. The shop is good, but the prices the same as at home. The coffee shop staff are totally disinterested in helping us, so we make our way to Laphroaig. Also founded in 1815, however they were probably making whisky long before that. This is the only alcohol which could be sold during prohibition in the United States as it was sold for medicinal purposes. We claimed our rent on our land and then tasted the 10 year old against the Triplewood. This is a blend of the PX and QA sherry wood whisky’s which are then placed into virgin oak. We bought a bottle for £42.90 less my birthday discount. We also were given 2 miniatures of the 10 year old as rent! This is the only whisky to hold a Royal warrant and the estate was privately owned until 1968. Well worth a visit to walk around the museum, have a tasting or do a tour. We drove back alongside the Mull of Oa and turned down towards
Scarrabus and checked in at Skerrols House. We are in the king room tonight and it’s luxurious to say the least. We relaxed and then headed to Port Charlotte to have dinner at the restaurant at the Port Charlotte Hotel. The sheep roam freely here and graze in open, unfenced fields along the water. Dinner was fantastic – a review to follow on my blog.