Monday, October 25, 2010

Brewery Bar Open!

Great News - the bar at the brewery was officially opened last week. The happy crew pictured are toasting the first evening of tasting, sampling and supping. Pundie was the beer of choice, as it's our special brew for October and November. A fine malty dark amber ale of 1049 OG and 5 % abv. Pleasing to the eye, sensational on the palate, it went down exceedingly well in the bar.
Slàinte, Ken

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ossian up the hill!

Looking through some photos last night I came across this picture taken in August '03. Your humble correspondent is clutching his bottle of Ossian (old label) with glee having walked, scrambled and generally puffed up Meall nan Tarmachan (hill of the ptarmigans) by Loch Tay. The beer was enjoyed with gusto before tramping down to Glen Lyon where the tent was erected much to the midgies delight!


Young(er) Ken

ps The kilt for those interested is of the Hodden Grey, worn by my old London Scottish Regiment.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Malts of Islay

Following from last month's malt tutorial, I thought we'd move on to other kinds of malt, namely, Single Malt Whiskies from Islay. The big difference with malted barley for whisky is that the malt tends to be dried or kilned with peat smoke, giving these island malts their phenolic or smoky character.
Getting the ferry over was straightforward from Kennacraig on the Kintyre peninisula. With only three cars and our two bikes on the big ferry, having plenty of room in the forrard Coffee Cabin was nice. This was formerly The Bar, but it was reassuring to hear the announcement that 'in the Coffee Cabin were being served teas, coffees, soft drinks and REFRESHMENTS...'
So a bottle of Islay Finlaggan Ale was ordered along with a large Bunnahabhainn.
At Port Askaig looking over the Sound of Islay towards the Paps of Jura thankful we'd made it thither in time to enjoy a wee refreshment under the sun. Caol Ila (The Sound of Islay) and Bunnahabhainn (rivermouth) are about 1 mile and 5 miles respectively north of Port Askaig.

The Mash Tun at Bruaichladdich with its 6 and a quarter tonne malt charge. The mixing gear rotates once every hour to let the wort or distillery wash flow out through the sieved bottom before it gets cooled and fermented in the washbacks. After a 3 day fermentation where all the malt sugars get turned to alcohol (at about 6%, very warm at 35C and quite sour), the whole contents of the washback are distilled twice in the big stills below.

The spirit safe with its big shiny padlock (but for why, you ask) showing the raw spirit flowing out of the condensers. Slàinte Mhòr! Crystal clear as you can see for the golden colour of whisky comes from the wooden barrels used for aging the spirit. Scotch Whisky demands aging for at least 3 years and a day, but only since 1914, before which it could be sold direct from the still. Fiery, sharp and pungent, unlike the mellow, aromatic and warming liquor we know and adore.

A wee collage of our distillery adventures which include a detour to beautiful Jura

A Special Mention in Dispatches to Vicky Stephens, Laphroaig's visitor centre manager, whom we discovered is a Beer Enthusiast and looking forward to tasting some Swedish beers at the Stockholm Whisky & Beer Festival, where she's exhibiting some of Laphroaig's finest. Tapadh leatsa, Vicky, airson tiodhlac snog blasda (Thanks very much for your tasty wee gift).
Keeping up with the beer theme, we popped in to see Paul, below, beside his mash tun at Islay Ales by Bridgend and had a wee discussion on brewing whilst Arlene, herself a veteran of plenty of brewery technical discussions, visited the Chocolate Shop, the Batik Shop and Islay Quilters next door. Islay Ales were on draught at the excellent Port Charlotte Hotel.

But of course being on a cycle/camping trip we were travelling extra light, so I had taken over a mere 6 bottles of Ossian in my saddle bags and the only way to lighten the load further was to give them away to interested parties (ie brewers or distillers!) or drink them toasting the fabulous scenery and people of Islay. Here's me tucking into a fine malt by Lagavulin Bay.

We'd recommend Islay to anyone. Lovely place, great rain, wind, sun and scenery. Malt Whisky galore. And Arlene met some very courteous Ileach kye too! A h-Ile boidheach àlainn brìagha!
O Islay - lovely,bonnie and braw!
Slàinte, Ken