Awoke this morning to blinding sun coming through the window of my room at the Island Bear B&B. It was a nearly cloudless day for most of the morning and my journey took me north up to Port Askaig and the distilleries up in that part of the island. Port Askaig is another point at which to catch the ferry to Kennacraig. There is also a small ferry that makes several runs to Jura across the Sound of Islay, a 21km passage of water separating the islands of Islay and Jura on Scotland’s west coast. The Paps of Jura are three distinct, conical mountains on the western side of the island of Jura in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland and are visible all throughout Islay. In many spots on Islay it appears that the Paps are simply an extension of Islay and it is not until you get to the coast that you realize they are on a different island.
Two distilleries were on my list today, Ardnahoe and Bunnahabhain, both offering spectacular views of the Paps of Jura and the Sound of Islay. Ardhanoe, founded in 2018, is the newest distillery on the island and has not yet bottled any of their spirit which is currently maturing in casks stored on the mainland. Their visitor experience is exceptional, their staff attentive and knowledgeable, and their cafe serves great food! The view from their still room and from the cafe is breathtaking as it overlooks the Paps. Bunnahabhain is an older distillery and produces both peated and non-peated whisky. My tasting experience included two peated and two unpeated selections, with 3 of the 4 selections having been matured in sherry casks. This particular distillery puts whatever sample you don’t finish drinking into a small bottle to take with you – and they offer small sample bottles for the people who are driving. I will be anxious to see what is produced by Ardnahoe and will keep tabs on when they offer their first release.