I'm in Campbeltown on the east coast of Kintyre which used to be the whisky capital of Scotland back in the day with a whopping 37 distilleries. There are only 3 remaining distilleries here now, Springbank, Glengyle and Glen Scotia and today I've done a double tour of the Springbank and Glengyle distilleries.
The Springbank distillery was founded in 1828 and is a family run business making Springbank, Longrow and Hazelburn whisky. They are one of the only distilleries in Scotland that cover all aspects of whisky making onsite from malt roasting to bottling. We started in the malt barn where the malt is germinated.
From here is it roasted in the kiln using a mixture of both dry and wet peat to give it that smoky, peaty flavour.
The mash tun at Springbank is cast iron and over 100 years old. There was a mash in there and the malty smell was lovely.
All of the calculations and regulated paperwork required for a distillery is all done manually at Springbank unlike most modern distilleries. The old buildings and the history associated with it was rather magical and I almost felt that I had travelled back in time.
One of the highlights of the tour was seeing the stores where the barrels are kept. The smell of whisky was intoxicating and there was row upon row of barrels of all shapes and sizes.
In stark contrast to Springbank, Glengyle distillery is all quite new and automated.
The two distilleries are owned by the same family however Glengyle is much younger. It produces Kilkerran whisky which is a lighter whisky and it is only produced for 8 weeks of the year, making it one of the more exclusive whiskies to find. Kilkerran uses the malt from the Springbank distillery however has different shape and size stills to create it's own unique flavour.
We headed back to the shop for a wee tasting and got a miniature of both the Springbank and Kilkerrran whiskies - finally something to put in my hip flask! I have to say that the tour of Springbank was something rather special with the traditional way of making whisky and I doubt I will see anything else like that on my travels around the islands.
After a spot of lunch to soak up the tastings I headed west towards Kilchenzie and then north up to Tayinloan to get the ferry across to Gigha. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and the views along to the south of Kintyre were stunning.
I was making good time along the coast but it was sweaty work and so when I saw a little farm shop it seemed rude not to stop for an ice cream, after all I have to make the most of the sunny weather.
Approaching Tayinloan it was just around 4pm and the clouds were threatening rain. Turning off for the ferry terminal there was a car behind me and we both pulled up just to see the ferry had pulled away. As I was checking the times for the next ferry a voice behind me said that the next one wasn't for another hour and he offered to buy me a coffee. David was with his wife Jean and their friends from New Hampshire in the USA and they were off to Gigha for 4 days for a nice break. We sat in the cafe with pots of tea and chatted for the next hour, such lovely people and so kind of them to make me welcome as part of their group, let alone to buy me tea! Sometimes I think the world automatically looks for the worst in people and today really just shows that people generally are nice and want to help.
Saying our goodbyes as the ferry pulled up, Jean ran to the car to write down their address for me in case I was travelling back via South Lanarkshire and needed somewhere to stay - truly wonderful people.
Once on Gigha the sun was back and immediately the island looked gorgeous.
There is only one road on Gigha and so I headed north to try and find myself a nice wild camp spot. I'd read that there was a nice beach near Eilean Garbh and I wasn't disappointed as 'The Twin Beaches' were truly beautiful with white sands and brilliant blue waters and so this was the perfect room for the night.
Sitting on the rocks listening to the swish and sway of the waves and watching the sun glistening on the sand I suddenly heard voices only to see 3 kayakers. I waved hello and they came ashore, apologising for spoiling my silence. Not to worry, they went further along the coast to camp and I was left to enjoy the sound of squawking geese.
Another day, another island, 2 distilleries and chocolate ice cream - totally living the dream!
Miles ridden = ???
- Ice creams eaten = 6
- Ferries taken = 9
- Islands visited = 4
- Wild camp nights = 9
- Ticks removed from body = 1
- Distilleries visited = 3
- Breweries visited = 1