Scotland: Isle of Skye 2 – At The Talisker Distillery

An account of a tour of the Talisker distiller on the Isle of Skye.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my series about my Scottish holiday. My previous post contains links to all its predecessors in the series.

ARRIVING AT THE DISTILLERY

Tours of the Talisker Distillery are rather popular, so we had an hour to fill in before our tour started. There was an exhibition to look at and a gift shop. These occupied us for about half the time, and then we took shelter in my parent’s camper van for the rest. Here are some pictures from this preliminary period…

502503Whisky display 1

Whiskey display 2
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THE TOUR

Most of the distillery itself was off limits as far as photography was concerned due to the possible triggering of dangerous chemical reactions. To give you an idea of the scale of the operation the whisky is produced in tranches of 30,000 litres at a time. Talisker whiskies are classified as mid-range peaty – not as peaty as the likes of Ardbeg, Islay, Lagavulin or Laphroaig but plenty peaty enough to taste. 

The whisky here is double distilled (they used to triple distill until recently). By the time it reaches the end of the distillation process it has an alcohol content of between 64 and 74 percent, and is then diluted with distilled water to reduced this to the desired level which varies between 40% minimum and 57% for the variety which is called 57 Degrees, linking its alcohol content to the latitude of this part of the world. 

The fermentation room contains eight giant containers, each at a different stage of the process, while there are two sets of stills. The first set consists of two each with a capacity of 17,000 litres and the second of three each with a capacity of 11,000 litres.

At the point at which it goes into the casks to mature the liquid is clear – the colour comes from the casks.

After we had seen the final stages of production there was the warehouse and a sampling session (a pub single each). In these closing stages photography was allowed again (I, unlike one of the others of our party had actually been listening when we were told this – I was annoyed when this individual piped up when I started photographing in the warehouse implying that I should not have been doing so, but the guide confirmed what I had already known by listening a few moments earlier – I was in the clear).

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The barrel loses 2% of its content to evaporation per year – after 38 years which this barrel has been there for the amount left would be 0.98 to the power of 38 where 1 stands for a full barrel.

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Whisky Samples
A few drops (emphasis on few) of water brings out the flavour

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DEPARTURE

We decided that the prices in the gift shop were just too high, especially as only one of our three gift vouchers could be used per purchase. The 57 Degrees was priced at £68, while the less strong local stuff was in the region of £40 per bottle. There were also some super-expensive (“Oligarch Prices” as I termed them at the time) bottles. The biggest price tag I saw was £2,400. 

 

Scotland – Isle of Skye 1: Ferry Cottage to Talisker Distillery

The first of several posts about the Tuesday of my Scottish holiday.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest post in the series about my Scottish holiday. We are now dealing with the Tuesday (May 30th), most of which was spent on the Isle of Skye. The day contained so much of interest and yielded so many splendid pictures that I am splitting it into a number of posts. Previous posts in this series:

THE FIRST MAJOR ACTIVITY

We decided that our first major activity would be a tour of the Talisker Distillery (the tour itself will be the theme of the next post in this series). As you will see from some of the photographs the weather was suitable for a day most of which would be spent under cover. 

THE GEOGRAPHY OF SKYE

Although Kyleakin is the more northerly of the settlements on Skye to have historic connections to the mainland (Armadale, with its ferry connection to Mallaig, is the other), it is still the case the most of Skye is to the north of Kyleakin.

Local Map

PHOTOS OF THE OUTWARD JOURNEY

The outward journey yielded some good pictures and gave me an idea for the way back as well…

River, Skye477

blurry waterfall
This waterfall is more than a bit blurred, but still worth showing.

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Stone bridge
I made a mental note that this was an area to get closer attention on the return journey, as you will see in a later post.

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This is the approach to the Distillery Car Park – and distillery visitors are understandably strongly discouraged from parking elsewhere in the village.

Scotland: Setting the Scene

Setting the scene for a series of posts about my recent holiday in Scotland.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to this first in what will be a substantial series of posts about my recent holiday in Scotland. Although I still have a lot of photo editing to do from said holiday I do now have enough photos at my disposal to start the series, and I will look to interleave the rest of the editing with producing posts for you. 

THE HOLIDAY TIMELINE

I travelled up on May 26th and back on June 4th. These two dates were entirely taken up with travelling (14 hours each way approximately). In between these two days there were:

  • Saturday – most of the day spent waiting for my parents to arrive so we could go up to the house that would be our base for the week, three miles from Kyle of Lochalsh.
  • Sunday – a quiet day featuring some walking in the immediate vicinity of the house
  • Monday – A walk to Kyle of Lochalsh, lunch there and a bus back. A quiet afternoon. 
  • Tuesday – a visit to the Talisker Distillery on the Isle of Skye.
  • Wednesday – a brief visit to Plockton to book the a table at the Plockton Inn for supper, a trip to Applecross and then back to Plockton for the supper (the birthday meal).
  • Thursday – The Jacobite Rail Journey (steam train between Fort William and Mallaig, a section of railway known to vast numbers of movie goers as the route of the Hogwarts Express).
  • Friday – the final full day.

THE LOCATION

Kyle of Lochalsh is on the mainland of northwestern Scotland, very close to the Isle of Skye, to which it is nowadays linked by a road bridge. Ferry Cottage, where we were staying is located at Glaick (pronounced Glike), three miles from Kyle of Lochalsh. Here are some maps for further clarification:

Decorative MapWestern Isles Map, Ferry CottageMap, Ferry CottageLocal MapJigmap1Jigmap6Jigmap7

SOME PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE AREA

Here are a few photos from the immediate area in which we were staying:

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Kyleaking from above
Kyleakin viewed from high above
Ferry Cottage
Ferry Cottage, where we stayed.

Skye Bridge from above

Kyle of Lochalsh from above
Kyle of Lochalsh from above

Loch Alsh from the bridgeKyle and the minor bridgeKyle of Lochalsh from the bridgeView from the Skye BridgeUnder Bridge ViewLighthouse below bridgeSkye Bridge minorSkye Bridge both bits

Balmacara House to Craggan Cottage2
These last two pictures show the stretch of shoreline that includes Ferry Cottage.

Balmacara House to Craggan Cottage

THOMAS’ CALENDAR CHALLENGE

I saw some quite amazing scenery while in Scotland, and it has become something of a tradition to produce a photographic wall calendar each year. A number of my Scottish pictures will undoubtedly feature. If in the course of this series of posts you see a picture that catches your eye as worth a place in the calendar there are two things I invite you to do:

  1. Post a comment identifying the photo that has caught your eye and/ or…
  2. Create a blog post about the picture that has caught your eye explaining what it means to you and why you think it should be included. If you do this I will reblog your post.

Should you succeed in convincing me to include the picture in my calendar I will give you credit for doing so. I end with two final pictures, the second of which is almost certain to be in the calendar:

Double Framed Lighthouse
A rarity – the lighthouse is framed twice over, once by the bridge and once by the masts of the boat in the foreground.
steamer1
This is the view across Loch Alsh from outside Ferry Cottage on a sunny day (yes, Scotland does have such things) with the additional feature of the world’s last remaining ocean going paddle steamer – this will almost certainly be in the calendar.

Booking a Trip to Scotland: British Public Transport Daftness Exposed

A combination of an account of the booking of train tickets for a trip to Scotland and an expose of the sheer craziness of British public transport.

INTRODUCTION

My parents have booked a house near Kyle of Lochalsh for a week which includes my birthday. As a birthday present I have been given the wherewithal to purchase train tickets for the journey, which happens to feature one of the most scenic routes anywhere in Britain. To set the scene for the rest of this post and give you a little test here is a photograph of my railway tickets for the journey:

tickets
Can you see what it is about these tickets that even before I go any further reveals an element of daftness in British Public Transport?

BOOKING THE JOURNEY

Those of you who follow this blog with due care and attention will be aware that for some years I have been resident in King’s Lynn for some years, and had I moved I would certainly have mentioned it here. Why then is the ticket above booked as a return from Peterborough to Kyle of Lochalsh and not from King’s Lynn? 

The following screenshots will expose the reason for this and the utter craziness and illogic of pricing on British public transport.

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Note the difference in price between this ticket and the one from Peterborough (almost £60!!)
Peterborugh-Kyle
Given the immense price difference, the booking from Peterborough was bound to leave my up on the transaction (as you will see after these pictures in point of fact to the tune of some £50)
Outbound
My outbound journey.
return
The suggested return journey (don;t worry parents, I can also get back leaving on the later train from Kyle, at 12:08 and arriving home around about midnight)
KL - Peterborough
Even were I to rely on train for the King’s Lynn to Peterborough and back section of the journey two anytime day singles (the max I would have had to pay), would have set me back a mere £24.60 as opposed to price difference on the all-in-one of almost £60, but….

I will actually be travelling the King’s Lynn – Peterborough and its reverse route on the First Eastern Counties X1 bus, which will set me back £6.40 each way or £12.80 in total, making a saving of approximately £47 as compared to the all-in-one booking from King’s Lynn. 

You might think that having cut through all the BS re fares and booked the tickets the daftness would end there, but you would be wrong…

COLLECTING THE TICKETS

The booking accomplished yesterday evening, this morning I set about collecting the tickets. First, as a precaution since I would be needing to keep them safe for a long while I searched out a receptacle of suitable size, shape and robustness to put them in, locating this pretty swiftly:

ticketholder

Having thus equipped myself it was off to the library to print off some booking information that I was going to need to collect the tickets.

library

Then with the information printed it was on to the station to pick up the tickets. This is usually done via ticket machines, of which King’s Lynn station has two. Here are pictures of both machines, showing precisely why I could not use them…

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I fully understand the desirability and indeed the need to replace old ticket machines with new, but why take both out of service simultaneously? Why not take one out of service and keep the other operational until the first new machine is ready, then take the second old machine out of service and replace it, thereby keeping at least one machine operational the whole time?

Fortunately, there were staff present, and I was able to get my tickets printed at a ticket office. While waiting I bagged an image of the station plaque:

plaque

Although the process took longer and entailed more frustration than I had anticipated, I have the tickets and other info safely stowed, and am looking forward to my visit to the wilds of northwest Scotland. It will not be my first visit to Kyle of Lochalsh – back in 1993, before the opening of a swanky new toll-bridge and consequent removal of ferry services to maximise said bridge’s profits, I passed through Kyle en route to the Isle of Skye, returning to the mainland by way of the southern ferry crossing to Mallaig. 

I conclude this post with two more photos, one showing all the printed material I have for the journey, and the other ending our journey back where we started (a lot more straightforward in a blog than in a journey on British public transport!)

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