Sunday, November 7, 2010

Our visit to Scotland > Autumn 2010

The last week has seen us being quiet on the blog and website, but we do have a good reason! We were invited to join a group of whisky bloggers on a whistle-stop two day tour to Scotland, as guests of Inver House Distillers. The itinerary was to take us from our comfort zone in London up to the far north of Scotland, starting at Old Pulteney in Wick and then driving down the north eastern coast of the Highlands to take in Balblair and through the Speyside region to Knockdhu (otherwise known as AnCnoc). It gave us the chance to visit three distilleries with very unique personalities, taste some great whiskies from each and finally put some names to faces from the non-London whisky blogging community. These included some of our favourite and 'must read' blogs.

Scotland Whisky Tour - Old Pulteney, Balblair and KnockdhuThe other bloggers on the trip were Chris and Lucas from Edinburgh Whisky, Jason of Guid Scotch Drink fame, Mark from Glasgow Whisky (& Ale), Keith from the Whisky Emporium, James the writer of Scotch Odyssey, Ben from Masters of Malt and Johan from Onversneden. We were also joined by Cathy from Inver House Distillers. We anticipate that all will be posting the events, distillery and tasting notes over the coming week, so be sure to check them out - especially the ones you may not have checked or read before.

After a night in a Japanese style pod-room in Yotel at Heathrow, we caught a flight to Edinburgh where we were to catch a connecting flight to Wick, the most northern (and possibly smallest, having now been there!) commercial airport on the UK mainland, at 11.00. Shortly after our arrival in Edinburgh at 09.15, the departure screen informed us that our Wick flight was delayed until 13.00. "Oh darn", we thought (or something slightly stronger). This turned out to be due to our 30-seater plane and staff being in the wrong place - the time changed to 14.20, back to 13.00 and then 14.20 again as we felt a touch of desperation set in on FlyBe/LoganAir's part! All of this as Lucas and Cathy waited up in Wick ...

However with hindsight, the delay was good on two counts - 1> it led to an impromptu group bonding session with the majority of our whisky blogging party and 2> the offer of a £5 lunch voucher from the somewhat sheepish airline. As the hours of wait whiled away, we learned lots about our fellow traveling companions, their backgrounds and what drove them to become part of the whisk(e)y blog community. Attention turned to how to get the most out of the free £5 voucher, with one suggestion that we pool all eight vouchers together to make one über food voucher of £40 and then buy a bottle of whisky from the Duty Free shop being particularly creative. Sadly, common sense and increasing hunger won.

Finally, they found us a plane, we were loaded on and the propellers started. It was 14.30. After a bumpy but gorgeous flight (especially the last part up the north east Highland coast as the sun began to set), we landed at Wick three and a half hours late. The airport 'terminal' resembled a doctor's surgery waiting room and had possibly the shortest baggage reclaim belt in the aviation industry - the rugged chap handing each passenger their bags through a hatch, having driven them the short distance from the plane on his red tractor! Cathy and Lucas were there to meet us, having been in Wick for hours, and we piled in to the minibus like an eager group of school kids on a trip. So, off we went to Old Pulteney ...

The reviews of our visits to Old Pulteney, Balblair and Knockdhu distilleries plus relevant tasting notes of the whiskies that we sampled, photos, accounts and stories that happened on the trip and a competition to win whisky samples from each place will follow in the coming week or so. We hope that you enjoy our posts and those of the companions on the trip.

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