Travel Report

1st Club tour to bonnie Scotland

October 18th - 22nd, 2002
Oban, Argyll

day 1 , day 2 , day 3 , day 4 , day 5

Day 2

Today we have a really hard program. Thats why we stand up early in the morning and take the earliest breakfast time at the B&B: 7:30 a.m. The 'Full Scottish Beakfast' is not too 'full': 1 fried egg, 1/2 warm tomato, 1 saussage, 2 bacon stripes and toast, butter marmelades, and coffee/tea. For tomorrow we ask for double value.
Shortly after 8 o'clock we sit in the car. It is frosty cold: - 5 grad C. Today we want to see the Speyside. So we leave Oban northbound on the A85. In Connel we go via the famous iron construction of Connel bridge. First photo stop near Appin: On a small Loch Linnhe island : Castle Stalker in sunshine. Behind the castle the Isle of Lismore with its northern lighhouse. At the background the snowbound peaks of the Morvern paninsula. We are deeply impressed about such a simply great landscape scenery.
The southern part of our todays tour route.
we go on traveling along the winterly icy Scottish Westcoast northbound over the Ballachulish bridge, passing Corran ferry to Fort William, the southern end of the Caledonian channel. In Spean Bridge we change the driver.
Is Davids first time driving on the left and, partly, also on a Single Track Road. But about this later more. In Laggan we turn to the small A889 over a small hill to Dalwhinnie. Shortly after the crossroad we stop at the "... Pottery, Coffee Shop and Kiln Room" that is normally closed but opens just and only for us. We are happy about the good coffee (not usual in Scotland) and the good tasting cookies and we buy some items.
From here it is really not very far to
that lies white glowing in front of the mighty scenery of the dark Grampian Mountains. Dalwhinnie Distillery is the highest Scottish distillery not far from the burn of the river Spey near the Pass of Drumochter.
We don't have the time to take part at a guided tour but relax instead with a good dram of "Dalwhinnie - Distillers Edition" - a real highlight - that is served by a very friendly woman in the Visitor Center (movie: asf, ca. 1,6MB)
Now we have to hurry, we have a date at the Balvenie Distillery at 2 p.m. and it is quite far to Dufftown. Here for the first time we use the saying that we never will loose during this tour : "Wir haben doch keine Zeit ! (We really do not have any time !)"
So we soon sit back in the car and drive to the A 9, the "Highland Road". Here it is said: Go North ! Passing the towns of Kingussie and Aviemore we turn right to the A 95 that takes us into Speyside.

Der northern part of our todays route.
In Aberlour on Spey we step by at "WALKER'S" Shortbread factory and buy for the Weihnachtsmarkt Kornwestheim some bags of Shortbread fingers. As we arrive in Dufftown we have really about 40 minutes time ! We use this for a short visit of the town centerwith the famous bell tower. The traffic signs at this place are like a good whisky card at a restaurant. at the towers ground floor the local tourist information visitor center is to be found. On the roofs of the surrounding houses there's snow. It is really cold.
At last we go back the half mile to the northern end of the town to the


Now we are separated from the other visitors and at the main hall with the family tree we get a dram of the new Glenfiddich Liqueur.

Inbetween a dark cloud came that brings us an icy snow-rain. Together with an upcoming strong wind it becomes very uncomfortable. We hurry to go from the parking place to the Glenfiddich Distillery area. Theres a warm welcome to us at the Visitor Center. After a short break the obligatory movie show about Glenfiddich and Single Malt Whisky starts, that recently has replaced the former slide show and is available in sveral languages, among this, also in German.

The waiting time till the start of our guided tour we use to have a closer look at the exhibition vitrines:
lot of photos,
a vitrine with a 50 years old Glenfiddich (left below),
another vitrine with the product portfolio of Glenfiddich and Balvenie (below) and
another one with selected rarities (movie: asf, ca. 3,7MB)

Now our very well German speaking guide appears and we start our special guided tour of

. For this purpose we get noticeable yellow vests and because of the still coming snow-rain umbrellas. Through a bridge at the rear part of Glenfiddich we come to a road that is about 1/2 mile long and leads toward the buildings of Balvenie Distillery.

The speciality of this distillery, that is closed for "standard" visitors, is, that here a malting floor and a Kiln are used and working which we can visit. So with our own eyes we can see how the barley is growing and malting. For the drying peat and coal is used here at the Kiln. It is interesting to see how it works, the fire, to smell the drying barley. Of course we have a closer look at the Mash tons, the Pot Stills, and the Spirit Safe. As we leave the distillery building, the cloud diappeared and it is the best sunshine wheather.
We leave Dufftown northbound and have a short break at the "Speyside Cooperation", a company that provides the casks for several Speyside distilleries and has been installed by them. As saturdays it is closed, we only can see lots of empty casks and some Highland cattle.

On our way up the Speyside we have 2 other stops at distilleries that are on the way but are also closed at this daytime: near Marypark we find Glenfarclas Distillery. We find an unused Pot Still in front of the visitor center building..

Although we have no time ! we have a short look at Cragganmore Distillery near Balindalloch castle.
As we reach the A 9 near Carrbridge, we turn northbound towards Inverness. At the "Slochd Summit" there's another dark cloud that causes heavy snow showers.
Last but not least destination at this very adventural day is the Glendruidh House hotel in Inverness , the "Capital of the Highlands". Aswe come from south on the A 9, at first we have a dream like view towards the Moray Firth, over Kessock Bridge and to the Black Isle, "Ross and Cromarty" and to the Northwest Highlands.

where we get some very rare old Single Malt Whiskies in front of the burning chimney. (movie: asf, ca. 190 kB) and a very good beer - very very good and relaxing. It develops a very interesting talk with Michael and we like to stay here. But because we are not prepared for this sadly we say bye bye and thanks a lot for everything and we drive through the night back to Oban.

The welcome at the clubs partner hotel was especially warm and from the heart. The proprietors Michael and Christine are very happy to see us. We are invited to the Bar of the hotel,

Following Michaels tip we don't use the main road along Loch Ness but we go via the Single Track Roads on the southern banks of it. This road leads us through a very lonesome area with small villages and silent remote lochs. Their surface mirrors the full moon so we have a very mystic scenery where the Loch Ness Monster may appear at any time. Near Fort Augustus we reach the A 82, that leads us to Fort William very quickly. The last part of the tour we use the same roads that we took today morning. It is late as we arrive in Oban. But this is no reason not to have another pub tour.

(C) Single Malt Whisky Club Württemberg e.V. - Jens Burkhardt - Chairman
Copying and using (also in parts) is prohibited by the club or the author.

day 1 , day 2 , day 3 , day 4 , day 5