Monday, July 05, 2010

Taking the Arran Waters

There’s no finer sight than Glasgow’s Whisky Club on tour. Resplendent in GWC polo shirts, clutching Gregg’s pokes containing essential breakfast items, and hip flasks at the ready, the outriders heading for Arran’s 15th anniversary open day, gathered at the very crack of dawn at Central Station. The smart set – well, Mark – bought their tickets to include passage on the CalMac ferry, the rest of us  - well, me and Bobby – had to queue at Ardrossan. The result was that bold Bobby and I had to wait in line, as our US friends say (more of them later) for the famed CalMac breakfast – a full fry up for £5.95, including toast.
At Brodick we were directed to one of two buses heading straight to the distillery, and we discovered Ayrton Senna was actually alive and well and driving a bus on Arran. The all day runabout ticket was offered as the cheapest fare option, but there was no way any of us were spending the day hurtling around Arran’s wee roads and big hills with Michael Schumacher’s older brother at the wheel.
Deposited more or less in one piece at the distillery, restorative drinks were needed, and Arran Ales came to the rescue with a good selection – but at a fiver a pop! The food was fantastic, venison burgers for the carnivores, oysters and mussels for the more adventurous. Big respect to Tam who lost his oyster virginity!
The sun shone, we had a wee smirr of rain, and there was plenty to keep people amused. There was a pipe band, a brass band, but neither was intrusive so if you just wanted to sit and natter, that was fine. There’s something special about sitting in the sunshine sipping drams with good friends, and Saturday had that in spades. We also met Blair and Mitch, two US students studying at Edinburgh University, who regaled us with tales of their whisky tastings and asked about ours. See whisky? See friendships throughout the world.
It was good to see our East Coast Representative, Lavinia Turnbull, and her daughter Sarah; it was great to meet up with the Springbank team, Angus Whisky On Line and Ewan from Morrison Bowmore, and it was really generous of Arran boss Euan Mitchell to deposit a bottle of the Anniversary Malt at the table. It was, and is, a superb dram and the whole of the Arran crew are right to be proud of it. We bought a bottle for the club and Euan has promised us a full-on Arran tasting in the future.
The part-timers left for the twenty to four boat while the stalwarts, joined by Adam, Juliet and Julie, hung on to the bitter end. Some of the pictures on Facebook indicate merr drink might have been taken on the high seas!
But it was a great day and proved, as Auchentoshan did last year, that the family-friendly open days make it possible for everybody to be happy. Now it’s on to Auchentoshan 2 in August. Polo shirts at the ready!

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