Today it was back up the Kintyre Peninsula to catch the ferry at Claonaig to the Isle of Arran. It’s known as ‘Scotland in miniature’, as it shares some of the characteristics of the Highlands and Lowlands, the mainland and the Western Isles. A drive around the island revealed stunning vistas, rolling hills and spectacular views of the Firth of Clyde. The towns around the island are small and typical of the fishing villages seen elsewhere. I stopped in to the community based COAST center where they have been successful in rewilding Lamlash Bay and making it a “no-take” zone as well as fighting against fish farms. Also observed were the Twelve Apostles. The ‘Apostles’ were built in the 1860s to accommodate people cleared from land in the island’s interior so that the land could be used for deer stalking, then a popular activity amongst the upper classes.
Naturally, a whisky visit was in order and I took a tour of the Arran distillery in Lochranza. This distillery is independently owned and has a newer sister distillery on another part of Arran (which was closed on Sundays). Their barley malt comes predominantly from the east coast of Scotland. The process from wash to mash to distillation takes place in one large building as opposed to separate buildings as in other distilleries. There are currently four copper stills. They use bourbon barrels from the Jim Beam distillery in Kentucky to mature their whisky and finish it in sherry or wine casks. All of their whisky is matured on Arran mostly in dunnage warehouses with barrels only stacked 2 high. Unlike bourbon barrels in the distilleries in Kentucky, which are on racks and stacked high necessitating that they be rotated as they mature, the casks in a dunnage warehouse do not need to be rotated. Like many distilleries I have visited there was no production going on over the weekend but there was mash that had nearly finished its fermentation process and would be transferred to the stills the following day.