Following on from Part 1,……
Back on the road, I’m just two hours away from the ferry port at Sconser on Skye. There’s stunning scenery to feast on all along the way.
At one point, however, I experience my closest [near-miss] head-on collision to date – no time to beep or judge, or even swear – just BRACE! Moments after, all is well, though I remain hyper-focused for a fair while after. Breathing into the adrenaline pumping through my veins, I gradually calm myself down like a Jedi Master. ‘Of course it was a BMW driver’, I mutter judgementally to myself, 10 minutes later.
Before reaching Skye Bridge, I pass Eilean Donan Castle [once again], which is as striking as it looks on pictures and on film.
The untouched/unpopulated parts of Skye are the most stunning, but harder [and harder] to find.
Before long, I find my way onto the Raasay ferry, and in no time I’ve found No. 1 Mine. What a spot, and not a hint of tourist infrastructure in sight. It looks like one of Skye’s volcanoes is active again.
After a walk around the mine site, Sir SWAG arrives with his partner and their two dogs. Soon enough, we are tucking into our whisky offerings. Wayne starts me off with a mystery dram from a Strathisla distillery tour he attended a few days earlier.
Strathisla 1988/2014 25yo Ob. Batch SI 25 001 53.2% [50cl] WB86.38
- N: Tasted blind: Fusty and husky, this smells rich, even on a windy [and sunny] hilltop.
- T: Indeed, that richness is further evident on the palate, coupled with decent body and weight, a moreish sweetness and a firm greasy citric grip.
- F: Cask and spirit both determinedly independent, the finish is beer-like with a lovely [oaky] nuttiness, becoming floury and maintaining a greasy sweetness to the last. I find no faults, no spikes. I’m guessing we’ve a predominantly bourbon-matured 18~20yo malt at a strength of around 58-60% abv?
- C: Lovely stuff, revealed! Turns out I’ve tried this very batch before, also at a Strathisla distillery tour way back in 2016 [WLP86]. They must have produced a large batch of it!
Scores 87 points [one more point today].
It’s all go at Mine #1. We’ve a dramming table including wine and gin, a make-your-own pizza station,…
- WB: “who doesn’t travel with a pizza oven?”,…
,…. white-tailed eagles soaring above,… and, argh midges!!! We start a fire to deter them, but it’s the wind that picks up and sends them packing. Eventually the wind settles, the drop in temperature keeping the midges at bay for the night. With little light pollution on this island [off an island,… off an island],…. looking up, the Milky Way is resplendent.
My 4yo Overholt continues to impress [bottle review to follow in due course], but my whisky highlight/eye-opener of the night is:
Loch Lomond 2017/2021 04yo Peated Single Grain Ob. Ob. Southport Whisky Festival 2021 cask #730 [247 bts] 61.3% WB0
The label proudly advertises this as ‘single grain’,… made from barley of course, and aged [for just four years] in a 2nd-fill ex-bourbon cask.
- C: Not dissimilar [in part] to a young 3yo Ben Nevis I will get to enjoy a few weeks later at CYWL in Brighton [WLP]. Spellbindingly, I can’t put the bottle down. With his typical generosity, Wayne donates the bottle to me, so expect a full bottle review in due course. [+87].
In this moment I am filled with gratitude for the warm fire, stunning surroundings, a plentiful supply of good whisky, food, company,… It’s a privilege to be hanging out with Sir SWAG himself. Jeez, who’d run a whisky club?! I sleep like a log.
Tomorrow, Raasay Distillery.