Last week, we took a group of clients to Arran, an island off Scotland's West Coast. It's often referred to as 'Scotland in miniature', and having spent a few days there, we found out exactly why: rolling hills and farmland in the south, dramatic mountains to the north, and VERY changeable weather! By and large we were lucky, and even got some sunshine.
The locals have worked hard on the island's branding, and whether you go out shopping, for a meal or a drink, the produce is very local - soaps, meat, seafood, beer, whisky. The food at Brambles at Auchrannie was exquisite, particularly the mussels, lamb and trout.
The highlight for me was a tutored tasting at the Arran Distillery.
Jim, our host was very knowledgeable. We tried the 10-year old, the 12-year old, the 15-year old and (my favourite) the 18-year old single malts as well as some special Sherry, Amarone and Port casks and the cream liqueur, Arran Gold.
Not being a big fan of the peatier whiskies the islands are famous for, the 18-year old was ideal for my palate. Soft, gentle and fruity on the nose, sweet and chocolatey on the tongue with a hint of ginger, and a long, luxurious finish.
We picked up a few souvenirs including a little hand-bottled Arranach, which is only available to visitors of the distillery. This is an example of a 'living cask' - a cask that is constantly topped up from different malts from the Arran range. Certainly a unique one to bring home.
Arran is just one of the wide variety of distilleries available to visit as part of our bespoke Scotch Whisky Tours.
Check out our Heritage Whisky Tours for more information.