The Islay Experience Part One

We arrived from Kennacraig into Port Askaig on a bonny day. It seemed like Hawai’i weather! We had booked our room reservation months in advance at Glenegedale, our first choice for lodging, and that meant we could get a room, albeit one with two twin beds. There are a lot of returnees at this annual event, so getting your room of choice would require some serious thinking ahead. Just the same, Glenegedale is the premier choice and we enthusiastically recommend them. There just aren’t many places that provide the hospitality you’ll find there.

Once we settled into our home base, it was off to the Lagavulin Distillery on our first morning for a 10 am tasting in their warehouse. The event seated about 40 people and was long since sold out. We all sat around a row of 6 casks aged various years.  We were given lanyards with a whisky glass attachment and bottled water. Tasting whisky so early in the day does seem a wee bit outrageous.  But taste we did. From 5 to 35 year old whisky, we tried them all. Our host was Ian MacArthur. Standing just under 5 feet tall with a barrel chest and wee bit of mischief about him, he was quite the character and an excellent host.

Our samplings took us through the range of “hmm.. too young”, “wow! that’s nice!”.  And of course the one we seemed to agree on the most was the 24yr old.  The tasting process involved syphoning directly from the cask into a long cylindrical stainless steel tube and you sucked it out of the cask and released the whisky into another plexiglass chamber and then into a bottle to serve everyone present.  Questions were welcomed and Ian’s ease with the crew made it a really greet time. Somehow, we were singled out for free T-Shirts.