Isle of Islay
Bunnahabhain Distillery is situated on the north-eastern tip of Islay, close to the Margadale River, the source of the distillery's water. In 1881 the building of the distillery commenced.
The distillery is located directly to the shore, and has it's own pier. In the past all the transport was done by boat to the distillery. In 1963 the floor maltings ceased to operate and the distillery underwent a major expansion, by adding a second pair of stills. In total there are two spirit stills and two wash stills at the distillery.
When driving down in the spring of 2012 to the distillery you catch yourself thinking "am I going the right way? This can't be right..." It is a long road, small, and bendy... And then all of the sudden you see some casks with a 1 mile marker and next a 1/2 mile marker on it with Bunnahabhain Distillery that way...
After some time you see the big complex of the distillery, and we got a bit of a desolate feeling, it is mostly very grey, and feels like it was left years and years ago. We are wondering and looking at each other "Are we at the right place...?" Seems to be. After some checking online I later found out that the reason for this is most likely that due to the magnitude of the buildings, it is kept mostly grey, to not set it out in the landscape as a sore white thumb, but to be more one with nature in this way.
You enter the distillery grounds, and the first thing you see is a lot of warehousing, and a lot of gray, tall buildings... And in the middle a big gate, facing the pier. Searching for a place to park the car, we drove along, and decided to have a walk around. See if we can find some people or a shop for more information...
It all has a bit a old factory feel to it. It is obvious that they must be very busy somewhere, but we can't seem to find them. We only see, grey, moist, and moss. And we doubt if this is something we want to tour inside.
We walked the pier, enjoyed the views to Jura, and the lovely weather. We went through the gate and found a sign that guided us up the stairs to a tiny shop. The people we spoke here were friendly, but the place has a strong feeling of that it belonged in black and white photography and stood still the last 100 years in time.
We went on our way again, not taking more time there, we were puzzled and did not know what to think of this place. Bunnahabhain has some lovely expressions and is also the home of the Black Bottle. We went on to find a place to have something to eat... And ended up for lunch at the Holy Coo in Bowmore. Just a lovely place to have a good bite to eat.
After talking to more people about this place it became clear to us, that the beauty of this place is really to be found inside, the one place where we did not look sadly... :-(
Oh my, what were we wrong about this place. Sadly at that time we already left Islay, and could not try a second visit, but PLEASE when you are there, take a tour, see through the grey and moist, something we did not seem to be capable of at that moment sadly.
My husband already tasted some Bunnahabhain, at the time of the visit. I must say have some catching up to do. When on travels later that year for work I brought a Darach Ur back with me as a present for my husband. And OMG, that is good stuff!
We have some more samples in the cupboard, and had a tiny taste already, but am convinced that I really have to get a good and proper tasting done soon with their expressions. Have the feeling that this has potential to become one of my favorite whisky brands...
The next and longer trip to Islay is already planned, and certainly a new visit to the distillery and a good tour is in the planning! We have to review this place again after that :-)
- 12 year old
- 18 year old
- 25 year old
- Toiteach (peaty Bunnahabhain)
- Cruach Mhona (World Duty Free)
- Darach Ur (World Duty Free)