DramVenture 2016 – The Plan
Hi everyone. One of the main things we want to share with DramVentures is the ins and outs of how we go about organising and planning our trips. We’ve had a couple of “planning sessions” so far that have basically just turned into impromptu whisky tastings at each other’s houses, but we have eventually cobbled together enough sense to come up with the following plan.
I’ve added in as many hyperlinks as I can to make life easier for you to see what I’m on about and hopefully this will help you plan your own DramVenture!
Here’s what day one will look like…
It’ll be an early start leaving Edinburgh at 03:30am to make the 153 mile trip to the ferry terminal at Kennacraig for the 07:00am sailing across to Port Askaig. Caledonian MacBrayne’s first sailing is normally to Port Ellen at the South of Islay, however, there is work going on between March and October this year at Port Ellen so all sailings are going to Port Askaig only, which is probably going to work in our favour for getting round all 8 working distilleries.
The ferry times can be found here Kennacraig to Islay Ferry Timetable. Leaving the car at the ferry terminal saves a lot of cash. At the moment it’s £13 return for a walk on fare with a bike, compared to over £60 for taking a car.
Since we are staying in a youth hostel we have saved a lot of weight to shift by not taking camping gear…plus we’ll get a much more comfortable sleep to rest our weary bones and try and deal with the impending hangovers!
So, the ferry will arrive in Port Askaig at 09:05am and we will be making a quick exit to get ourselves up to the very first tasting of the trip at Caol Ila. As we are all members of the Friends of the Classic Malts, we will get the basic tour including free sample dram for free but we have decided to upgrade to the core range tasting for the £9.
Following this, we’re back on the bikes for a short trip up to Bunnahabhain for a look round and quick dram before we have lunch and begin the 18 mile cycle to our digs for the weekend at Port Charlottle Youth Hostel.
We hopefully won’t be under too much pressure to make our third and final visit of the day at Bruichladdich, where we will go for the £5 basic tour and dram at 4pm. This distillery is only 3 miles from the hostel so we won’t have any problems meandering back for food, a cigar and a wee dram before turning in early (yeah right!).
This will be a very busy day estimated to cost us around £60 all in, including ferry.
This is going to be a long day…but an exciting one.
One of the DramVentures team has previously stayed at the Port Charlotte Youth Hostel and has informed me/made up, that it is tradition to get up in the morning and head straight into the Atlantic sea for a quick dunk…I’m seriously not keen on this, however, in the spirit of adventure, I’ll give it a bash at least once! Watch this space for the video(s)!
So, once we are suitably “refreshed” from our morning dip and have got breakfast down us, we’ll be leaving the hostel at 7am to make the 20 mile cycle down to Ardbeg for their “full range tour and tasting”, at 10am, which is coming in at £18. We’re all excited about this one as this is one of our favourite drams at the moment.
We’ve decided to leave early for this cycle as we’ve learned from our “training rides” that we need to factor in “puncture time” (separate post to follow!). Guaranteed that if we prep well for it though, not one single puncture shall be had…we hope!
After Ardbeg tasting tour, we will fill up with a big lunch at the cafe there and head over for a quick visit and dram at Laphroig who were very helpful on calling them. A very relaxed, friendly attitude was received from them and we were invited to just come in whenever for a dram and look around.
Finally, we’ll make the very short cycle to Lagavulin for their “warehouse demonstration”, at 1:30pm, which comes in at £23 each…not cheap but we’re all big fans of this dram too so decided to try something a little different here.
After this, we’ll give ourselves plenty of time to chill and enjoy a look round the south of the island and Port Ellen, before we’re back on the bikes for a big cycle home.
One thing we are very careful of here will be how the drams effect us. We’re all pretty experienced ‘drammers’, however should we still be feeling the effects, we have arranged to be collected and returned to our hostel!
The evening will then be spent at a local public house, again enjoying a fine dram or two with that evening’s cigar!
I have a feeling that this day will be a tad more somber affair to begin with! However, we will endeavour to keep with tradition and get up and into the Atlantic first thing…to be fair, it’ll probably be needed!
Today’s schedule is nowhere near as packed as yesterday so we will start with a gentle cycle round to Bowmore after lunch for their 12:30pm basic tour and tasting for £7.
After that we’re back on the bikes for the 11 mile cycle back over to Kilchoman for our final distillery. As we all don’t have too much experience of this dram, we’ve opted for the tutored tasting at 4pm, which comes in at £15 each.
Once that’s done, we’ll be back to Port Charlotte to see away what will truly be a very special DramVenture, I’m sure. As for day four…I think the less said about that the better!