DramVentures 2017 – Winter Bothy

Winter Bothy Dramventures

Bothy: Allt scheicheachan bothy
Munro: Beinn Dearg 1008 metres – OS MAP 43

Setting off from Edinburgh the Dramventure crew and mascot TJ drove to Blair Atholl – then to Old Tilt and parked at the Glen Tilt car park. From there we walked towards the crossroads at Old Tilt and followed the marked walking trails towards the woods, keeping the river on our left. We left the forrest through a large gate and followed a good land rover track for another 8km to get to the bothy, which we’ve got to say looked pretty darn spooky at night!

On the way in we were weighed down with coal food and whisky. Snow was knee deep and even waist deep in places where it had drifted, but DramVentures mascot TJ carried his own gear in his Ruffwear backpack with ease.

The bothy itself has one main room with chairs, four benches for sleeping on and an open fire. It was clean and tidy but cold and difficult to heat, but it was a very welcome sight, late on a cold Friday night.


Early Saturday morning, we set off from the bothy, crossing a small burn and followed a well worn track for about 3.5KM before ascending towards a broad ridge which leads to the Munro top – marked by a large cairn or shelter. You can return by the same route or chose a more direct route over small stalkers paths to return to your original path and back to the bothy.

The walk in and ascent of the Munro were arduous to say the least, but the views were well worth it, which kept us in good spirits.

Saturday night after our walk we warmed ourselves by the fire and enjoyed two wonderful bottles of single malt.

Our first bottle was the Ardmore Legacy. Whisky fans will know that you can often pick this lovely bottle up in shops for about £20-£25. It’s my personal opinion that there aren’t many better bottles of whisky available at this price range. The legacy is a lightly peated dram with a slightly sweet palate. It’s got a hint of spiced honey or cinnamon and comes with an exceptionally smooth finish.

Our second bottle comes from one of Dramventures favourite distilleries Talisker. Talisker Storm like Ardmore Legacy is a NAS (non age statement) offering from the Skye powerhouse. We can have the NAS debate or argument another time when we discuss Bruichladdich’s approach to transparency in their NAS offerings.

I really enjoyed this bottle. Storm has many of the characteristics you’d expect from Talisker. It’s smooth yet has a decent depth of flavour with hints of sweet spices. It’s warm finish let’s you enjoy the hints of peat but is not overpowering.

After drams and stories around the fire we eventually retired again to the warmth of our sleeping bags. Mascot trainee Murphy and his mentor Tj curled up by the fire and a sound sleep all round was had.

In the morning we packed and tidied the bothy after some fresh cooked sausages and returned to the car by the Land Rover track.

31.2Km and about 1200metres of ascent was covered over the weekend and a great time was had!

Slainte

Bill

DramVentures Islay Epic 2016 ~ Ardbeg!

DramVentures Islay Epic 2016 ~ Ardbeg

 

Distillery – Ardbeg

Tour – Full Range Tour and Tasting

Cost – £20

Host – Dionne

 

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So where else would we go when we get off a ferry on Islay at 9:30am? Ardbeg of course! This turned out to be a brilliant first distillery for our trip for so many reasons…

 

First of all, the main thing that struck me was just how beautiful this wee section of Islay is. The team at Ardbeg really have done an excellent job in how they present the distillery. You can’t help but notice how clean and well maintained everything is but the main centre piece is the copper still in the grounds.

 

Still Outside 1

 

When we arrived we were welcomed in by the staff, who really were fantastic. We had some time to look around the gift shop before we set off on the Full Range Tour and Tasting experience priced at £20. There’s loads of great stuff there and although tempted to buy one of the coats from there, I didn’t fancy getting stick at every other distillery that we turned up to!

 

We were met by ‘Dionne’ who was our host for the tour and tasting. She was friendly, very knowledgeable and took us for a tour around the distillery, which included a taste of the ‘wash’ recovered via the traditional ‘copper dog’. I personally think that they should make an Ardbeg beer as well because that was very tasty!

 

Next, it was onwards to the stills, which are designed specifically to catch the heaviest elements of the spirit as they are wide and angled downwards at the top. Always good to know!

 

Stills

 

Once the tour was over, it was on to the tasting…huzzah!

 

Tasting bottles 1

 

The tasting room is set at the back of the main restaurant and is a cosy wee room set for maybe ten people max, which we thought was a great idea. It makes people on the tour interact and that always gives a better experience.

 

Of course, there was the usual polite quietness to start but once we were all a few drams in, conversation started flowing and we had a great time.

 

The drams….

 

Drams 1

 

  1. Ardbeg 10 year old.
  2. Ardbeg Perpetuum Distillery Release.
  3. Ardbeg Uigeadail.
  4. Ardbeg Supernova.
  5. Ardbeg Corryvreckan.

 

Dionne took us through the drams and had a very relaxed style of running the tasting, which we thought was excellent. A lot of places can be slightly formal, which makes getting conversation going quite awkward sometimes but there was none of that there!

 

I think it’s fairly easy to say that this was a fantastic set of drams to kick off our time on Islay! For me personally, the Supernova was the star of the show, but we all had different favourites, so that speaks for itself.

 

After our tasting we went for food in the café, which was excellent. Very reasonably priced, great service and a belly full of their mac and cheese set me up beautifully for the day!

 

Overall, Ardbeg was an impressive place to visit with excellent staff but most importantly…drams that were superb. The Full Range Tour and Tasting is a steal at only £20…great value for money and highly recommended.

 

K G B Ardbeg

 

Slainte

Kenny

Islay DramVenture ~ The new plan!

DramVentures 2016 ~ Isle of Islay ~ the new plan

Just when you think you’ve got it all sorted…the ferry goes and changes the port it sails to last minute! Ah well! So, we’ve had to make some changes to our itinerary for the weekend; here’s how it’s looking now…

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Day 1 ~ Friday 29th April

We’ll be up very early to leave Edinburgh and get our trip underway, which is probably a good thing really as I’m struggling to sleep because I’m so excited already…

3am – we will load the bikes onto the car, throw our panniers in the boot, whack some funky beats on and hit the road. G’s request for One Direction tunes has been denied so hopefully he won’t be in too much of a huff.

7am – ferry from Kennacraig over to Port Ellen now. We were originally planning on the ferry going up to Port Askaig but they’ve decided to delay the terminal works till after the Islay Festival so that’s made us do some jiggery pockery with our timetable.

9:20am ~ ferry arrives in Port Ellen then we’ll be off quickly to make the short trip up to Ardbeg.

10am ~ Tour and full tasting at Ardbeg…there just isn’t a better start to a trip like this than with none other than the distillery that came out top of our ‘ranking’ system (more about that in our final review).

After this we’ll have a hearty lunch in the Old Kiln Café at Ardbeg then have a wander down to Laphroaig to visit and have a dram in their bar there.

1:30pm ~ Back along the road to Lagavulin for their tour and ‘premium tasting’.
Following this, we’ll have a wander down into Port Ellen to have a look around and let the effects of all our drams wear off, before we get kitted up and cycle the 20 miles up to Port Charlotte where we will be staying for the weekend. This will undoubtedly be a slog of a journey but hey…it’s all part of the adventure.

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Day 2 ~ Saturday 30th April

Early rise again for us, but thankfully not as early as the day before…

0730 ~ the plan is to get up and last into the sea has to buy the beers in the evening…after a quick dip in the sea, we’ll get some breakfast (ibuprofen/paracetamol etc) down us then we’re off on our adventures again cycling to our first stop of the day.

0930 ~ Bowmore ~ only the standard tour and dram here, which is a shame because I love this dram but it’s just the way all the tour times etc works out…still going to be great being there though.

12pm ~ we’ll make the cycle back round to Bruichladdich for a bit of a special one here…we’ll be taking part in their ‘warehouse experience’. This is certainly not your standard tour so we’ll do a full write up on this one. Can’t wait!

4pm ~ tutored tasting at Kilchoman to finish off day 2 then hopefully if the weather is nice, we’ll get down to the beach then the war memorial there.

Once we’re back at the hostel, we’ll grab dinner then find ourselves a local public house to see in the rest of the evening.

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Day 3 ~ Sunday 1st May

I’m sure we will be feeling slightly worse for wear on this morning, but at least we will get a long lie in before we’ll get a quick dip in the sea, breakfast/lunch then back on our bikes for the 15 mile trip up to Port Askaig.

2pm ~ Caol Ila tour and premium tasting. That’ll see away any remnants of hangovers…

Then we will head up to Bunnahabhain for a visit and dram before we head back to the hostel.

Once we’ve freshened up we’ve decided to head out for a nice dinner in the local and have booked table in the bar so we get best seats to listen to the evenings traditional folk music band. A perfect way to end such an amazing trip, I’m sure.

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Day 4 ~ Monday 2nd May

Depending on what the weather is doing and what time we eventually get kicked out of the hostel…we’ll either make the 15 mile trip to Port Askaig or the 20 mile trip to Port Ellen for the ferry back over to Kennacraig to collect the car and head back home with what I’m sure will be some great memories and where plans will no doubt be made for the return trip!

We’re planning on keeping you all up to date with our antics as much as possible via our facebook page so keep your eyes peeled there. We might even ‘go live’ now and again but we’ll let you know when that’ll happen!

Here’s to a great trip away to the world famous whisky mecca!

Slainte

K