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Scottish anchorages


"Light and mellow wines suit the sunny lands where the grapes grow, but here in the North, it needs something short and more potent to keep the cold from a man and restore his vitality". Heckstall Smith in Isle, Ben and Loch, 1933.


There may be something to be said for a cruise around all the coastal distilleries although you would spend most of your time on Islay. If you want to do a few of them in company then go for the Malts Cruise which is run every summer and I am told is very jolly. But if you don't want to be so whole-hearted about it, or in the company of others, it is still worth knowing where the distilleries near nice anchorages are, the buildings with some striking exceptions are rather good, and many if not most do tours and I think even those that don't still sell their stuff. So going kind of from the south to the north, and only including those with anchorages near by (which is just about the lot):


Islay: Bruichladdich


          Lagavulin (and walkable to Laphroig)


          Caol Ila


Isle of Jura




If I were forced to choose between anchorages, I would pick Lagavulin on Islay (for the anchorage), Isle of Jura at Craighouse (for the hotel and general atmosphere) and Tobermory (for the charms of Tobermory). So go for it, buy a bottle of single malt at each anchorage, drink them up over the next year, and then go round again the following year.


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Oban Distillery Tobermory Distillery

Thomas Pennant didn't think too much of whisky when he visited Kintyre in 1772: "Notwithstanding the quantity of bere raised, there is often a sort of dearth; the inhabitants being mad enough to convert their bread into poison, distilling annually six thousand bolls of grain into whisky". On Islay he was clearly concerned that "more of the bere is drank in form of whisky than eaten in the shape of bannocks". (bere is an old word for barley). A few years later Samuel Johnson was prepared to give whisky a try but still regarded it as poisonous: "It was strong, but not pungent, and was free from empyreumatick taste or smell. What was the process I had no opportunity of enquiring, nor do I wish to improve the art of making poison pleasanrt"