Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Sea kayaking in search of the Holy Grail: the Ardbeg distillery, Islay
We continued to paddle with a tail wind along the SE coast of Islay. As a result, we had no olfactory warning of the delight that lay round the headland. Tony sprinted ahead leaving David and I in his wake.
We decided to the tie the kayaks up as we thought we may be spending some time on land. The essence of our trips is exploration but this one was more of a pilgrimage.
The clear Celtic symbols left us in no doubt that we were now on hallowed and spiritual ground. We had arrived at the Ardbeg distillery, home and birth place of the Lord of the island malt whiskies.
Tony was quite relaxed as he waited for our arrival outside the temple of the old drying kiln. He was still licking his lips as we approached, a clear sign of a quick one!
We entered the great shrine of Ardbeg and prepared for worship of a palatial kind.
But first we were delighted to find that the old drying kiln now served sustaining food and drink for the faithful. As we placed our order, the serving staff did not bat an eyelid at our dripping kayaking gear. As the sun had not yet passed the yardarm, we decided to wash a bowl of delicious soup down with a pint of bottle conditioned Finlaggan Ale from the Islay Ales brewery. Afterwards we found the facilities to be warm and spotless. Only after a ritual washing the salt from our faces did we feel prepared to sample the great Ardbeg....