Because there are so many distilleries on Islay, there was no way that we could visit them all in the time that we had. But we decided that we would do our best to visit as many as possible. So we started this morning at 9:30 with a tour and tasting at Lagavulin.
Here we learned about a company called Porteus that made mills for Lagavulin and other distilleries to grind their barley. The mills were so good that they never needed replacing and hardly ever needed repairs. The company ended up going out of business because they were so good.
Here's the mill!
And here's some other photos from our tour. We got to look in on the mash fermentation process and see the pot stills, which were big but not quite as big as Laphroaig's.
Like Laphroaig, Lagavulin is located right on the water and had beautiful grounds. The weather wasn't as nice this morning, but we still got some photos!
And of course, we got to do some tasting too! After we had our dram of whisky that came with the tour, we also did a little more sampling at the bar. Since it was so early. I got a coffee with Scotch. I had a few Irish coffees in Ireland, which are made with coffee and whisky, but the Scotch with coffee was a new experience! The smokey flavor was an interesting addition!
I also have to share the fact that Lagavulin did not miss out on any branding opportunity. Here's the bathroom!
After our first tour of the day, we sadly had to say goodbye to Elin, who had to be back in the US to work in New York soon. She took a flight on a "wee plane" from Islay to Glasgow and then continued onto NYC.
Bruichladdich is the distillery that Elin, Suzy, and I had gotten the gin from the day before. On this day, we signed up for the PHD - Progressive Hebridian Distillery - tour. (Hebridean is the term for all of islands off the coast of Western Scotland).
This distillery was really neat because they used all traditional brewing methods with very old machinery. Their mill, mash tank, and pot stills were all from the 1800s! They were bought out by a big company not so long ago, but they have kept their very old school style.
We also got to see "Ugly Betty" which is the still they make their gin in. The ladder you see in the photo goes up to a section where they put what the tour guide described as a "giant tea bag of botanicals" that flavors the gin.
Dylan and I had one less successful and one more successful attempt at a selfie with the Bruichladdich barrels.
At the end of the tour, we got to sample of bunch of their whisky without having to pay anything. It had the feel of a small, really friendly place in that way, which I liked. We tried their super, super peated Scotch called Octomore which tasted a little like a mouthful of campfire. I didn't get a photo of that one, but I got a photo of this one which shares my birthday!
We ended our distillery marathon of the day at Kilchoman, which stands out as (I think) the only independent distillery on Islay that does everything - from growing and smoking the barley to making and bottling the whisky all on site.
Here we got to see the barley spread out on the malting floor. We also got to taste all forms of the soon-to-be-whisky at all stages of the whisky making process...which turned out to be more than I wanted at times. Murky wort with chunks of grist floating in it is not so appetizing, especially after you've spent a good portion of the day drinking whisky and driving on very, very windy small roads. My tummy was not a fan.
But those of us with stronger constitutions continued on to do some more tasting of all that Kilchoman had to offer.
We were pretty tired by the end of our three distillery day. So we decided to pick up pizza from a place called Peatzeria (I love a good pun). We got to enjoy it while sitting in our amazing rental and talking through some of the Best and Worsts of our Gang of 7 trip through Ireland and Scotland. (Side note: I was so hungry that I ate a couple bites before thinking that I should take a photo...)