Sunday, July 08, 2007

Orkney 2007 - Days 7 and 8

Sunday 2nd/Monday 3rd July - Return to Scotland; Tain and Glenmorangie/Balblair and Cromarty

Ah, it is a sad truth that for holidays to truly be holidays they must end and be replaced by work, and this one was no exception.  Thus it came to pass that far too early on Sunday we got up from our cosy little cottage, made it as ship-shape as possible, and then got onto the real thing at St Margaret's Hope for the voyage back to mainland Scotland.  

Mind, there was the silver lining that returning gave us access to more distilleries!  After a welcomed lunch at The Royal Hotel in Tain, which seemed to be the first place where proper food had been available since setting off, we got ourselves to over Glenmorangie.  

Like Highland Park, this tour started with an audio-visual presentation, but it was made better by the fact that it merely was on a continuous loop in the collecting area, so it felt a little less like you were being herded in and fed.  This tour was also taken by a summer student, but a highly competent and professional one, so we'll let that go!  The dram came at the end and the tasting room was fantastic, so plus points there, but it was just the one dram again so a disappointment to close.  However, Glenmorangie is a well-known name and there was something great about being there.  the distillery has the tallest stills in Scotland and they were definitely a pleasure to see. 

The tasting room at Glenmorangie, it'll do:

The start of the tour, this way:

Cask staves put to good artistic effect:

Traditional cooperage tools on display:

Audio-visual blah.. Featured our girl's home town though:

Alison at home with some wash-backs:

The oddly cathedral-like Glenmorangie still room:

Sitting patiently, waiting for you!

Personal casks in a variety of colours!

After a welcomed restful night in our great and recommended B&B, Weymss House in Bayfield, we had another distillery to visit, this time Balblair where an entirely different touring experience awaited us.  First of all, this was a by-appointment only tour, which always improves matters, kindly arranged by the folks at the B&B!  Second, we were taken around by the assistant manager and third, I'm not entirely sure about how many malts we got at the end but it was a lot!!  Balblair is a much smaller operation than Glenmorangie, and there was no prepared walkway for tours (no audio-visual presentation in sight!); the entire site had a small-scale industrial feel to it with the fat stumpy stills almost shoved into one corner with gangways all around.  The proof however, is of course in the pudding and I have to say hands down that any of the Balblair expressions are superior to the Glenmorangies that I have tasted.  In fact I was gutted that I'd used the last of my whisky budget the day before but at least I was taken pity upon and handed a miniature!!

Is that a chimney in your pocket...

Balblair's stills just about tucked in:

After Balblair, Sonia and I parted company from the guys as we headed home, but not before a nice lunch in the very pleasant little village of Cromarty, which Sonia used to live near.  Plenty of unique shops and coffee rooms etc, certainly one of the nicest Scottish villages I've been to and again, recommended if you are in the area.  After that, with time to spare, we drove back to Aberdeen over the A939 passing through high town Tomintoul (and the excellent Whisky Castle) and then past the formidable Corgarff Castle all the time with a view of the Cairngorms as a beautiful bright evening closed the holiday well.

I'll take it for my servants! Colourful quarters in Cromarty:

Uni of Aberdeen's different field station:

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Blogger Lisa Rullsenberg said...

What a fabulous trip! And such wonderful pictures too.

Hugs to you and the Sonia.
Lisa and Neilx

26 July 2007 at 08:47  

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