Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Scotland - Need a couple small towns to be based in....

Scotland - Need a couple small towns to be based in....

Old Jan 19th, 2009, 01:56 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 6,818

Margo mentions >>>Inverewe garden <<< en route to Ullapool area we stopped ....very lovely..

tower is offline  
Old Jan 20th, 2009, 12:48 AM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,190
"Balvenie; Macallan; Highland Park; Bowmore: Lagavulin; Bruichladdich"
I won't disagree with that list.
Balvenie doublewood is probably ny No1 too.I am really into the Macallan fine oak whisky and Lagavulin is my top Islay malt.
Bruichladdich has started producing a new whisky called Port Charlotte which is very nice,i got a bottle of 5 year old last year,I think they can now produce a 7 year old,well worth trying in my opinion.
You can never go wrong with Highland park (great tour there btw) and there is always a bottle of it in my cupboard.
I am now getting my way through a selection of Un-chill filtered whiskies,an old fashioned method of production but gives a rawer woodier taste to the whisky which I very much enjoy.
I believe there is no such thing as bad whisky ,just some that are a lot better than others,again it is all personal tatse.
keep drinking whisky folks.
I wrote an introduction to whisky on Trip Advisor and a lot of my favourite whiskies are mentioned there.

unclegus is offline  
Old Jan 20th, 2009, 01:10 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,156
I'm the other way round- I'm an Islay fan, really. I listed those distilleries because.

1. Balvenie's OK, and Balvenie Doublewood is very good; but Balvenie still has a floor malting for visitors.

2. Macallan is (IMHO) the best Speyside by a country mile

3. I'm a recent convert to Highland Park. Nice blend of sweet and peat. They've been selling 18 year old "cheap" in the airports and it's very fine (and it's in Orkney)

4. Bowmore, because it's still got a floor malting, and a new visitor centre with one of the best views from a tasting room anywhere in the world. The whisky's no' bad either.

5. Lagavulin because it's the best whisky in the world. The double matured is nectar of the gods

6. Bruichladdich was the whisky that turned me onto whisky 20+ years ago. I LOVE what the new team has done since buying the distillery. Some of the things Jim McEwan is doing are fascinating, and some of the whisky is really nice. REALLY nice; and I think they provide the best visitor experience of any distillery I've been to.

I too believe there's no such thing as a bad malt whisky, just that some are better than others. Some, indeed, are MUCH better than others.

I would have to say that Kilchoman MUST be smaller than Edradour. Mustn't it?
sheila is offline  
Old Jan 20th, 2009, 01:21 AM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,190
Kilchoman,probably is but it is not in full production and I think is just starting to bottle 3 year old.
I was tasting the early sprit at the Whisky fringe last August,it wasn't old enough to be called whisky ,but had a lovely smokey flavour if i remember correctly,after the number of "samples" i had that day the specifics fail me.
don't know if you have ever been to the Whsiky Fringe in Edinburgh but I can highly reccommend it.
I already have my tickets for this years event.
I must try and get over to Islay again and tour the distilleries i missed last time.
unclegus is offline  
Old Jan 20th, 2009, 02:23 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,156
I think it is in full production- it's just not selling yet.

I've visited twice and had the tour at the Islay Whisky Festival last May.

We did taste the spirit, and I really couldn't say if that's heading the right way or not.

A pal and I did buy a case in the cask for delivery when it's 8 years old. They are clearly struggling for cash flow.

If anyone tries to sell you the fruit liqueur, my advice would be to resist.

Go to the Festival on Islay. It's a joy!
sheila is offline  
Old Jan 20th, 2009, 02:52 AM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,190
I do have vague memories of the fruit liquer,tasted a bit like a schnapps.
anyway I wish Kilchoman every success.
unclegus is offline  
Old Jan 23rd, 2009, 12:20 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 98
Thank you all soooooo much. For some reason i couldn't log back in to my account, so I'm late checking this, but this is INVALUABLE. As soon as I get back home I'm settling in with my Scotland tour books and looking up names and locations. Thank you!!
GKS is offline  
Old Jan 23rd, 2009, 04:52 PM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1,146
When we go to Scotland, we stay in the lovely Auld Cummerton B&B near Bellabeg. www.auldcummerton.co.uk. From this location, we have done the whiskey trail, several castles including Balmoral and the wonderful Dunottar castle ruins, driven to Aberdeen (not worth the drive IMHO), and enjoyed many scenic walks. With a car, you can cover a fairly wide area from this location. We were able to attend two Highland games nearby, one in Pitlochry and the other more famous one in Braemar. I don't know if there are games during the time you'll be there, though.

As for the guesthouse, you won't find a lovlier place to sleep nor better breakfasts, and the hosts are wonderful. Check it out.
crckwc1 is offline  
Old Jan 27th, 2009, 01:19 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 98
Just curious, as I've only been wine tasting before, but do they do tastings at the distillery tours?
GKS is offline  
Old Jan 27th, 2009, 01:40 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,190
Yes,you usually get a little sample on the tour,some places give a larger sample than others.
some distilleries such as Aberlour and Balvenie will do a special whisky "nosing" or tutoured tasting but will charge accordingly.
I did the whisky tasting at the Aberlour distillery a few years ago and tatsed 6 different whiskies from the distillery.cost was about £8.
Quite often tha specialist whisky shops give free samples too.
I use RoyalMile whiskies in Edinburgh for my main supplies and there is usually a wee sample if you go in at weekends.
unclegus is offline  
Old Jan 27th, 2009, 01:41 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,156
Yes, they do. Different places handle it differently, but a good tour will give you at least one nip and they may give you a choice of a few different expressions.

It's not unusual to be given a few different expressions to check out the ways they vary.
sheila is offline  
Old Jan 27th, 2009, 02:16 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 541
Sheila, whisky news.
The Pot Still, a tiny old bar with over 500 whiskies 2 blocks N of Glasgow Central Station on Hope St., has taken over the bar opposite (was the Candy Bar) and named it the Cask & Still.(more whisky)
As I'm still working my way through the Pot Still menu I haven't tried it yet but I can see pool tables which puts me off.
If you don't know the Pot Still you should inspect it some time. Its far away enough from the station to have a low loony count and and unobtrusive enough to deter passing trade. A gem.
zippo is offline  
Old Jan 27th, 2009, 04:27 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 148
i remember thae towns of strathpeffer and nairn as very interesting with plenty to see there and in nearby areas. both are the west coast and nairn is slose to the whiskey trail.
petertherabbitt is offline  
Old Jan 28th, 2009, 01:22 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 98
Thank you! A couple more questions - is it really horribly rainy in July on Islay or Skye? I've got so much time planned there (vs the rest of Scotland) that I'm worried half our vacation might be in a haze of rain (or worse!)....

I have a potential itinerary and I'd love your thoughts as to if it might be better to cut some time out of a certain place to be able to do the Orkney Islands, or if a certain place is not worth such a long stay or for variety I should head somewhere else.... I know it's all subjective, but reading peoples' opinions on this board is sooooo helpful. (And as a note, I'm not very into big cities, I'd rather spend my time in smaller towns/villages and see ruins and just beautiful countryside etc...)

So far it's looking like:
* Land EDI - 2 nights
* 3 nights somewhere near whisky trail/loch ness
*4 nights Portree
*1 night Oban
*5 nights Islay
*1 night Glasgow, leave next day from there.

What do you guys think?

GKS is offline  
Old Jan 29th, 2009, 12:24 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,156
That looks like my sort of tour, although, unless I was going to climb, I would probably spend less time on Skye.

The Craigellachie Hotel would be my choice for a place to stay on Speyside. It's not cheap, mind. A bit far south to be comfortable to go to Loch Ness from- easily doable, you understand, but still a bit of a hike. If you want to do the Loch Ness thing, you should probably take time out en route to Skye.

As to weather; well... I've been on Islay in July with stunning weather, and, although I've seen rain then, not constant rain.



Skye is much the same. Basically, no guarantees. Frankly (I'm feeling a bit bucolic this morning), I'd rather have 5 days on Islay in the rain than anywhere else on earth

Where are you staying
sheila is offline  
Old Jan 29th, 2009, 12:55 AM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,190
can i just second shelia's suggestion of the craigellachie Hotel,it is a lovely place and where Tony Blair had a meeting with Bill Clinton.
The Quaich bar is truelly stunning and a must stop place for any whisky lover.9 we spent a fair bit of my brothers expense account there)http://www.craigellachie.com/quaich-bar.asp
No way could i afford to stay there but stayed at the nearby Highlander Inn which was excellent,this place is now owned by the ex Gereal manager and bar manager of the Craigellachie Hotel.
The Mash Tun in Aberlour( about 2 miles from Craigellachie) is also a fine wee place with a great selection of malts,they do have limited accomodation which was in the process of being upgraded when i was there 3 years ago.the food and the whisky were excellent.
I hope all this rambling serves to help and not confuse,but I need the memory jog of someone like Shelia to stir my old brains cells into remembering where I been.
unclegus is offline  
Old Jan 29th, 2009, 03:41 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 98
Thank you guys! I don't have ANY reservations yet as nothing's been finalized and I'm still trying to figure out areas, but I hope to get all that sorted out this month. I found a nice hotel on Cambeltown, and was thinking of doing 3 days on Islay and 2 there, even though they're so close, just for variety....but everyone seems to love Islay so much now I'm thinking Islay is the place to spend most of the time. Are the neighboring islands not as nice? What about Islay do you love?

Again, thank you so much!
GKS is offline  
Old Jan 29th, 2009, 04:03 AM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,190
I just love the quietness if Islay,nothing is rushed.Of course there are lots of distilleries to visit and you will find yourself chatting to locals (and other visitors) everywhere you go.
The friendliness of the locals is superb,I ,my brother and a friend even got invited to the local bowling club competion with another club from Kilmarnock,I think it was to help them hold down the beer tent ater the game was washed out due to the rain and high winds,ended up going to a fund raising ceilidh with them all that evening.
the countryside is lovely,very rugged and quite flat,the wild animals are quite abundant and to walk along a quiet road and see Red deer stags staring at you is amazing.The samll guest house we stayed in Lagavulin Cottage had a conservatory that looked right out onto the sea and we could sit there and watch seals splashing about in the water only yards away.
the food in the local bars and resturants was very good and well priced,in fact the food at the Harbour Inn in Bowmore was as fresh and as local as you could get anywhere,quite superb.
The bus service is not bad but we used the local taxi service a lot (7 seater mini bus).late on the sunday night we had called to be picked up and was told ,"tell the barman to give you another drink i will be there in about 20 minutes",true to her word our driver Fiona was there in 20 minutes.
great friendly service evry where you go.
unclegus is offline  
Old Jan 29th, 2009, 04:16 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 98
That sounds amazing and just what I'm looking for. Thank you! Oh, and I wrote the Craigellachie to find out if they have availability for when we're there....the hotel looks amazing!

Do you think the drive from Skye to Islay would be easy in a day? Or would it be best to break it up with a stay somewhere in between, like Oban? From the map/directions I did, it looks like a 6 hour drive, but I'm not sure if that time is horribly misleading...
GKS is offline  
Old Jan 29th, 2009, 02:10 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,156
Is there any way you can organise this so you end up coming into Oban on a Wednesday? You can then get the weekly afternoon ferry to Islay.

Otherwise it's a bit of a slog. Doable, but not so much fun. You can manage a day trip to Jura, and (Wednesdays only) one to Colonsay. Both nice. neither a patch on Islay. Three day is Campelltown would be.... two and a half too many.

Islay has beaches, whisky, peat fires, Gaelic, birds, wildlife, people, chocolate, beer, oysters, sunsets, swimming, villages, moors. history, pre-history. a bearable pace of life and 8 distilleries and a malting plant. What's not to like?

(zippo, I missed your previous post. Thanks for the heads up. I don't get to Glasgow much, but I'll bear it in mind)

GKS, I did a "preview" of Islay for a Fodorite I took there, and I think I did a trip report from the last whisky festival. Email me and I'll send you them.
sheila is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information