This week, we have experinced much of what Eriska and the surrounding area has to offer, but also a lot of the things guests can enjoy while staying with us at the hotel!
On wednesday, the weather allowed for some of our guests with the more atristic nerve to spend time outside capuring the main house.
Did you know, that our hotel was built in 1884 by a branch of stewarts of Appin and the architect Hippolyte Blanc? He was known for his attention to details and for the Scottish Baronial Style. Blanc's work can also be seen in Edinbugh today, where the St Cutberth's Church and the Argyll Tower are amongst some of his works.
Today we went out with a client of ours who will be coming back to stay with us later in the summer to look at all that the West Coast of Scotland can offer! We were picked up by Struan from Costal Connection who took us over by boat to Kingairloch - only a 25 minute journey accross from Eriska. Kingairloch is a 14,000 acre highland estate and is home to a wide range of animals, birds and flora throughout the year and also feature the Boat House restaurant, serving exquisit seasonal cuisine - all grown or captured on the estate.
But what is exquisite cuisine withouth Scotlands national beverage?
We got back onto the boat and set our course towards Oban to visit the Oban Distillery. Oban Distillery is one of Scotland's oldest sources of single malt scotch whisky and are proud of their Oban 14 year old Single Malt with its hints of honey,smoke, citrus orange and sea salt. Well worth a visit if you are staying with us.
What are you doing for the World Whisky Day this weekend on Saturday 18th?
Are you one of the lucky ones coming to our tutored whisky tasting session on Saturday at the Isle of Eriska Hotel, Spa & Golf? It is open to residents of the Hotel and any residents dining with us in the evening.
The session will allow our guests and diners to nose their way through the range of exclusive bottles of Eriska malt we have had especially made for our residents - From the ten year old malt of Islay to the 10 year old Speyside, we will highlight the characteristics of each bottle and the complete trilogy with the Sherry Wood Cask of 14 year old Speyside.
Come stay with us this weekend for an exciting evening, or book a table in the restaurant. we need a 24h notice for bookings with our restaurant.You can book with us by pressing the button below.
Given all the press that Arran has had over the last week due to the lack of power it only seems right to highlight a good reason to visit the island.
Arran distillery is one of the youngest in Scotland and indeed the only dstillery on the Island.
In 1994 Arran Distillers was founded by Harold Currie, former director of Chivas with the intention of building a distillery on Arran the following year production strarted.There used to be about fifty distilleries on the island, but most of them were "moonlight" or illegal distilleries although clesarly these have been absent for some time indeed!!
The distyillery was small and compact so initially a large proportion of the casks were stored in the warehouses of Springbank, due to a lack of room . However, the distillery now has a revolutionary storage warehouse, on site, that allows easier access to barrels. The distillery offers a cask purchase scheme which offers private individuals the opportunity to own their own cask of whisky, which can be stored on site at the distillery.
The whisky of Arran is mostly used to produce their Single Malt Whisky, but a small proportion also goes into the production of their range of blended whiskies : Lochranza Blend, Robert Burns Blend and Arran Gold Single Malt Whisky Cream Liqueur.
Arran is a unique island known as 'Scotland in Miniature', for it has all of the scenery of Scotland, with mountains and lowlands, glens, lochs and royal castles (including one at Lochranza). Early in the 19th century there were more than 50 whisky distilleries on Arran, most of them illegal and carefully hidden from the eyes of the taxmen. The malt was acclaimed at the time as the best in Scotland, only rivalled by those from the 'Glen of Livet'.
They use only the traditional methods of distilling, with wooden washbacks and copper stills designed to our exact specification. The location - just outside Lochranza- offers perfect water for whisky production, cleansed by granite and softened by peat as it comes down from the mountain above. The atmosphere of sea breezes and clear mountain air together with the warm flow of the Gulf Stream matures the Arran Malt to perfection in earth floored warehouses.
They use no peat in the production process and no caramel for artificial colouring - unlike most other whisky companies.
As a result our products are rightly described as 'the true spirit of nature'.
The colour is yellow (straw) with greenish glints.
The nose is close to malted barley and the fragrances are issued from the distillation (spices) with however slight chocolate hints, coming from the ageing in sherry casks.
Firm, rounded, light to medium.
The palate is full and mellow and confirms the nose.
The finish is long and sweet-bitter and goes on on notes evoking nuts vanilla and barley.
Having shown you How to Taste Malt Whisky and set you on the right track with some hints and notes about Oban 14 Year Old Malt Whisky, and Lagavullin 16YO it seems only logical that we move north to Speyside to start spreading your knowledge.
There are really three distinct sectors to Scottish Malts- The Lowlands, Speyside and then the Islands. Whilst inevitably there are many variations and exceptions to the rules this gives us all a guidline to start with and at least allows us to help level expectations.
Some would argue that the Masters of malt all come from Speyside.
Indeed Diageo, one of the, largest companies in the whisky industry, are currently trying to put togther a malt tour of Speyside to rival those of some of the great wine areas of the world - we will keep our ears open but I am sure the islands will have their say about this as they beleive they are the home of propper malts! So our next malt experience will be with Cragganmore situated in the heart of this fertile triangle of land bordered by mountains and sea.
Cragganmore’s Speyside home is guarded by a striking wrought iron gate spelling its name, which was taken from the nearby hill whose greenstone built the distillery, Craggan Mor.
The Cragganmore Distillery was founded in 1869 by on eof the distillers who worked at Glenfarcals and he persuaded the owners of glenfarclas to sell him the land for the distillery and cleverly sited it within easy reach of the railway, and ideed managed to have a special siding of track included in his site plans .
Nestling on the banks of the legendary salmon river, Cragganmore is, for many, the home of the definitive Speyside malt. Hugely complex, rich with layers of flavour and a whiff of smoke in the finish. It is also however a good malt to introduced speyside as it is not over powered by flavors beyond the malt
A combination of sweet floral fragrances, riverside herbs and flowers with some honey and vanilla.
“The most complex nose of any malt whisky.” Michael Jackson, Whisky Writer
Firm, rounded, light to medium.
A strong malty taste with hints of sweet wood smoke and sandalwood
A long, malt-driven finish with light smoke and hints of sweetness.
Having shown you How to Taste Malt Whisky and set you on the right track with some hints and notes about Oban 14 Year Old Malt Whisky , it seems only logiocal that we head south to the wonderful island of Islay and start working round the coastline.
Last year we helped establish a new tour which sets off from Oban Aiport in the morning and returns in the late afternoon having indulged in a few visits to our Islay neighbours. Currently we are helping guests make arrangemenst for this "educational" day out but it soon becomes clear that when doing it correctly we ought to offer to drop guests at Oban Airport and most importantly collect and drive them back at the end of the day- to allow full enjoyment of the Water of Life through the day!
Of the great homes of malt whisky the greatest is surely Islay, home even today to seven active malt distilleries.
And first among the Islay malts is Lagavulin - the definitive Islay malt. As early as 1742, there were perhaps ten illicit stills operating at Lagavulin. In 1816 local farmer and distiller John Johnston founded the first legal distillery, within view of Dunyvaig Castle, once the stronghold of the Lords of the Isles.
The barley used to distil Lagavulin is malted at nearby Port Ellen and has a strong peat "reek" - it has perhaps twenty times as much exposure to peat smoke as a typical Speyside Whisky. Fermentation of the barley is a slow process, too. Between 55 and 75 hours are taken for the full peat-rich flavour of the locally-malted barley to come through.
The four stills at Lagavulin, two of them pear-shaped in the style inherited from Malt Mill, take this peaty wort and give it all the time and care it deserves. Following the original practice, Lagavulin receives the slowest distillation of any Islay malt - around five hours for the first distillation and more than nine hours for the second. This long distillation is often said to give Lagavulin the characteristic roundness and soft, mellow edges that devotees rightly prize.
Lagavulin is a powerful yet wonderfully rounded pleasure. Its recently described "awesome power and marvellous complexity of flavours" are enjoyed by a significant number of malt lovers, for whom this big, dark, intense character just is malt.
LAGAVULIN 16 YEAR OLD
A much sought-after single malt with the massive peat-smoke that's typical of southern Islay - but also offering a dryness that turns it into a truly interesting dram.
Lagavulin is an intensely flavoured, smoky-sweet single malt with seaweed flavours and a huge finish, aged in oak casks for at least sixteen years.
Strength : 43% ABV
Appearance : Deep amber gold.
Nose : Intensely flavoured, peat smoke with iodine and seaweed and a rich, deep sweetness.
Palate :A rich, dried fruit sweetness with clouds of smoke and strong, barley-malt flavours, warming with an intense flavour. At the back of the mouth is an explosion of peppery smoke.
Finish :Huge, long, warming and peppery with a distinct appetising sweetness.
When taking on a new chellenge it is best to be methodical and set about the task with a plan.
Earlier we disucussed the basic strategy behind whisky tasting and offered some advice that we would give to any guest sitting at our Libarary Bar faced with the array of bottles and not knowing where to start or more possibly how to start. Over the course of time we hope to guide visitors round the shelves and allow them to sample - virtually- the water of life. Then possibly you will be tempted across the threshold of your local bar or shop or even maybe across our bridge and then into our very own library bar!
So as in all things it's best to start at the beginning
- but when you are not sure where that is then we would always suggest that the closer to home the better so for us where better to start than Oban. Oban is the frontier between the West Highlands and the Islands; the meeting place between land and sea. A perfect, sheltered harbour makes it the principal seaport for the Isles and the capital of the West Highlands.
It has a mild, temperate climate, warmed by the Gulf Stream and washed (too often, some might say) by the soft rain that often falls hereabouts. This misty, maritime character, with a background of heather and peat, is perfectly echoed in the malt whisky produced at Oban.
At the heart of Oban for over 200 years has been the distillery and despite all the changes and developments over the years it remains key to the town.
Oban distillery is now owned by the grand international company- diageo- and if truth be told it is the support, help and most importantly investment from the powers above that have kept it alive and indeed thriving as it is today.
Oban is made using only the finest barley, malted to the distillery's own particular specification. The tiny lantern-shaped copper pot stills are among the smallest in Scotland; their rich, fruity malt is then slowly condensed in wooden worm tubs that sit outside among the rooftops, before being aged in oak casks for at least 14 years.
Rich sweetness and fruits - oranges, lemons and pears, with sea-salt and peaty smokiness.
Mouth-filling late autumn fruits - dried figs and honey-sweet spices; followed by a smoky malty dryness.
Long, smooth-sweet finish with oak-wood, dryness and a grain of salt.
A combination of light smoke, medium richness and appetising spice