Scotland 2014 Day 9: Skye Pt. 2 and The Glenmorangie Distillery
Up for brekkie and started off the day with a Kiwi yoghurt and a nice peach, some smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. Matt got the classic Scottish Breakfast.
|Another classic Scottish breakfast!|
|The view from the breakfast room|
Our favourite spot of the morning was a place called Quiraing... WOW. The sun and clouds and general absurdly beautiful absurdity was totally over-the-top. This was the most beautiful part of Skye, and we had seen some outrageously awesome stuff already yesterday. This was just crazy. It's hard to describe the complexity of the layered clouds, the juxtaposition of the sharp, jagged landscape against the soft-but-fierce clouds... it was just out of control. This is best described by just the photos themselves. Enjoy. We certainly did!
|Skye is crazy|
|Coastal village of Uig|
|This place rocked|
|Uggggghhh!!! So awesome!|
The amazingness continued as we got to the Old Man of Storr, with again more glorious coastal views and INSANE winds. Channeling the Merida-ish girl from Caol Ila on Islay a few days ago, Matt and I joked and said, "Ach, the wind... I haaattte it!" More awesome clouds rolled across the sky at a fast pace due to the insane winds. It was just unbelievable.
|The sky here really is awesome|
|Super windy spot|
|The Old Man of Storr|
|Crossing Skye Bridge|
|Watch out for Nessie!|
We then continued up the road a few minutes to... GLENMORANGIE!!!!!!!!!! Holllllyyy craaaap so excited. This is my favourite whisky, and I was just totally out-of-control psyched about it.
After parking, we walked into the shop and the FIRST thing I noticed on the display way across the room on the back wall? They had EALANTA. My most favourite whisky of all time, now impossible to find due to it being crowned Jim Murray's World Whisky of the Year for 2014... it was right there. Crazy. The second thing I saw was the price (oof). Whew. They old had 400 bottles left (the Distillery itself only had that many left??? Can you imagine how many are still at regular shops?? None!) This is also a single run of bottles, done only once, and when they run out, they run out. I think she said they only made 12,000 or so worldwide of this, and so they really did go quickly. They had upped the price from what it used to be when they learned that local shops were selling it for much more after it won "the" whisky award. So... it was crazy, but I was definitely going to leave with a bottle of it. She said she had a couple "stored away for her retirement" :).
Matt made me buy a bottle of Ealanta in San Francisco last year when he was visiting, we had tried it at Nihon Whisky Lounge here in San Francisco and I said it was the best whisky I had ever tasted. I was planning to buy a nicer bottle at some point, and Matt encouraged me to just go for it. I wasn't sure I knew enough about whisky yet to decide, but I went for it on his insistence. And as always, it's good to have best friends who know you this well. 1 week after we tried this and I bought a bottle of it at a very reasonable price, Ealanta was crowned World Whisky of the Year and bottles flew off all the shelves. A few weeks later I went back to the same store and any stock they had was long gone! Anyhow -- I still have about 3/4 of that bottle left at home, but it seems highly necessary to get another one and to put it away. When I finish my current one though... I should really check the going rate for this at that point before cracking open this new one. It is though very unlikely that I'd sell this... well, I suppose, unless it's going for $1000. ;)
|Oh man, all the Glenmorangie Private Selections in one display!|
|A taste of the Glenmorangie 25 and the Glenmorangie Signet|
We were about 30 min early which was great, and I was glad to have a good amount of time to have these tastings and also wander the shop and not be too rushed. They surprisingly didn't have any shirts or bike jerseys like the other distilleries, mostly just whisky (not that I'm complaining!) There was a golf towel, cool Glenmorangie Signet logo pins, a Moleskine notebook, but they were mostly just selling their regular standard whiskies, their fancier range, and whatever they had leftover from the yearly Private Selection bottlings.
Of all of the ones there that looked interesting other than the 2 I tried, they had the Artein, the only other one of the Private Selections that I haven't tasted at some point (Nihon Whisky Lounge in San Francisco had 2 or 3 different ones, so that was a great place to try a sample). The famed Sonnalta PX box was there, but sadly none of those were available - I had heard GREAT things about that one. I could have sampled the Artein, but my keenness to take an Ealanta bottle home was too strong anyway, and we'd probably had enough whisky by now on the trip, right?!
|I'll take 'em all!|
|Sortof a crazy Game of Thrones-looking display!|
|If this is a game of wheel of fortune, I want to win that Scotch in the middle!|
|Whoa, never seen this before.|
|My epic favourite, the Ealanta!|
|Nice touch, the carpet is done in the style of the pattern on the bottles|
|Freaking out at a bottle of the "Pride 1981"|
|Can't believe we are here|
From there we checked out the barrel room and it was awesome. One very interesting thing she said which I caught was "We make the cases out of American Oak and then loan them to the Bourbon Distilleries for a few years to make Bourbon in before we get them back to make Scotch." Now THAT was very interesting... our mate Dr. Bill, the absolute whisky genius of Glenmorangie and Ardbeg, king of the extra maturing... there is no chance he'd leave the process of getting his casks completely up to the Bourbon makers, right?! Of course not. :) None of the other distilleries had talked about the creation of the casks themselves, they all just said that they got them from Jim Beam, Jack Daniels, Buffalo Trace... whatever. It was just important that they'd been used once for Bourbon first before Scotch was made in them. But... very interesting that they implied something different at Glenmorangie. If this is in fact the case, then I am actually not at all surprised. Dr. Bill is probably extremely keen to control the maturation process as much as possible, and selecting the wood for the initial casks before they go to the Bourbon distilleries makes a whole lot of sense in the mind of the master Glenmorangie distiller. Very cool.
We saw some older barrels and then smelled each one of the casks of the Extra Matured Range, the LaSanta, the Nectar D'Or, and the Quinta Ruban. Given the Glenmorangie Taste Test I did with Frank last year, I was pretty sure I'd like the La Santa the best, and I certainly did, and so did Matt. LaSanta was the richest, sweetest smelling one, and the girl there said it smelled "quite Christmassy!'
From there we went to the shop and had a quick taste of the standard 10 yr. old. I left the tour ending a little early to make sure I still had enough time in the shop, and man that place was awesome. I got the Ealanta, obv. :) The Artein sounded kinda cool but I wasn't seriously going to get it as well, so I just wandered a bit more. If they had the Sonnalta PX I would have seriously considered that one too. Oh well, enough glorious whisky for today! I got some of the awesome Signet logo pins as well. EPIC!!! Matt then took a bunch of photos of me outside, freaking out about how awesome it was to go to my favourite distiller.
|Ugggh this place rocks|
|Best sign ever!|
|Just. loving. it.|
I spent more time getting excited that I'd just scored another Ealanta, and then we headed back to the car and drove back to Inverness, going to check into our first backpackers of the trip, a place called
"Bazpackers". We've been in B&B's all the rest of the trip, so for the final weekend it should be fun to just change it up a bit.
We parked the car VERY easily, in a nice street spot just down the road from the hostel. Since the car was safe there, we basically dropped all of our stuff into the car so we didn't need to deal with it at the hostel at all, and just took in a backpack with clothes for the next day and stuff for the evening. We checked in and a South African guy was running the place... from a mining town outside of Johannesburg! Crazy :)
We checked in and had a 6-person room, but there were just 2 other guys in it. It had a really nice view of the city, actually. Quite epic. We chatted with a beardy dude who was there and was from South Western Ontario! He sounded SO Scottish, as he'd been living in Scotland for over a year. He seemed close friends with a Spanish girl named Marta from near Andalucia - she spent the first few minutes of our chat convincing us to go to Andalucia some day because "it is beautiful".
And now, dinner time! We wandered and, as seems to be the case in most cities in Scotland so far, everything is closed in the evening! We walked for a bit and found a nice looking Indian restaurant, and decided to go for it. We got something crazy called Salmon Saag -- exactly what you think it is! It was weird but good but mostly pretty weird. It was salmon, with squidgy spinach curry on it! Funny. We also got a Lamb Tikka Masala that was a good choice and had very tomatoey sauce. For starters we had something that was sortof like an Indian Latke!
|Indian Food for dinner|
We had a good walk and planned our strategy for the next day. We were originally going to go to Aberlour and Dufftown in Speyside tomorrow, but we decided just to forgo Speyside as we'd really seen more than enough distilleries on this trip, and neither of us really needed to go on another tasting tour :) I was also quite keen originally to go to the Walkers Shortbread Factory which is also in Dufftown, but I found out that 1) it was probably closed on a weekend and 2) you couldn't tour the factory itself even if it was open and 3) the shop didn't really sell a lot more unusual stuff than you could find at any grocery store or shop. So... with all that in mind and after over-analyzing that (as we do), we decided to just stay in Inverness in the morning to go to Marks and Spencers here and do stuff like that in the morning, and then drive straight to Edinburgh to get rid of the car at the airport and then bus or taxi into town so we'd get more time in Edinburgh. Sounded great after much discussion.
Back to the hotel and a French dude was cooking lots of food for everyone and kept offering us some. It looked really good but we were both totally stuffed from the Indian Food (and even put our leftovers in the communal hostel fridge with a note saying "Free to a good home" and the date on it). It was great chatting with these peeps and Heev and I figured out our route for tomorrow. I got the Ben Nevis shareable bottle out and shared it a bunch with everyone so I could make some new friends and also lighten my luggage a bit!
Heev eventually went to bed, and I hung around for a while longer chatting with folks more. A crazy Scottish guy who was there rocked, and busted out a guitar while we were in the kitchen and sang a song about Islay. That was wicked and he was a super animated dude. We all hung for a while longer and eventually about 1 or 2am he started saying "Pub?" "Pub?" to everyone, trying to rally the group to go to a pub in town. That sounded kindof fun but with only a couple days left on the trip and wanting to make the most of Edinburgh tomorrow, I opted to go to bed "early" at only 2am :) It seemed tempting and they were all really solid blokes, but I just had to go to bed. Another long and epic day. Good times, and good peeps. Now time for some sleep and then it's off to our last major stop, Edinburgh.