On the morning of our second full day in Scotland we took a day trip to the island of Islay.
We woke up about 6 am and headed on a 90-mile drive through the mountains and along the coast to the ferry Port Kennacraig. Our goal was to get the first ferry to Port Ellen. Port Ellen is on the southern side of Islay and close to the distillery that we were planning on visiting.
After a two-hour drive we arrived during a rainstorm and made our way to the ticket office to catch the 9:45 am ferry. We found out that Port Ellen was closed due to the weather but we would be able to go to the northern port on the island, Port Askaig and get a ride back to Port Ellen. This should have been a clue to us that our day was not going to proceed as planned, but in our excitement we immediately said yes and bought our tickets. We boarded the ferry and it was practically empty. We made ourselves comfortable as the ferry departed. While we were close to land the water was calm and the ride was smooth. Once we got into open waters the ride became very rough. Thankfully we had all taken some motion sickness medicine before we arrived, unfortunately it didn’t work for Madison. Poor girl was sick all over with no warning. Thankfully, the crew was awesome and helped us out.
After about a 2 hour ferry ride we arrived about noon. A taxi was waiting for us and we headed to the first distillery Ardbeg, where we grabbed some lunch. The food was absolutely delicious. We looked around the shop and took some photos. As you can tell from the pictures the island is extremely windy.
We then headed to my husband’s distillery of choice, Laphroaig. Mike was introduced to Laphroiag Whiskey while we were still living in the states. A visit was at the top of his wish list when we moved here. We checked that bucket list item off the list. We toured the distillery and it was an amazing experience. We all learned a lot. After the tour Mike had a tasting scheduled, so the kids and I hung out in the lobby while he did the tasting. He ended up with a private tasting since there we were the only people left at the distillery by late afternoon. Mike really enjoyed the tasting and he came home with an even larger passion for whiskey.
At the end of the tour and tasting we headed back to Port Ellen where they taxied us back up to Port Askaig to catch the last ferry back to the mainland.
At around 6:30 pm we left Islay and our trip back to the mainland was quick and uneventful. We arrived back to Port and grabbed our car and headed back to Dumbarton for one last night. By the time we reached our room we were all exhausted and ready for bed.
Islay is absolutely beautiful and I would love to visit during the summer months. We were there in December and it was very windy and cold. I would love to take a couple of days and really tour the island and see more of the distilleries. The island was very quiet and serene while we were there since it definitely was not tourist season and if the ferry tells you a port is closed due to the weather realize the waters will be rough. Between the weather and the rough crossings it made our morning difficult. I’m glad that we stuck with it and still went to the island. Even with only about 5 hours there it was still a memorable and enjoyable experience. And it definitely left us all wanting more.