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Whisky Dad (and Dad) Vist Scotland 2018 - Planning Update

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It has been a little while since I shared my travel plans for the big trip to Scotland next year and I have had a chance to incorporate many of the great suggestions I received last time. So here’s where it's at, as of now.

Flights are booked

My dad and I will fly into Manchester Airport around midday on the 21st of May 2018 and depart Manchester on our way back to Australia on the evening of the 18th of June. We will be hiring a car for the whole trip to get around in.

To Scotland (21st May)

My dad and I will visit my uncle Harry briefly on our way to Scotland but our first overnight stop will be at Mossend, near Glasgow. Leaving bright and early in the morning, we will visit a few sites of significance from my Dad’s childhood and end up at Campbeltown in the afternoon.

Campbeltown Malts Festival (22-25th May)

The first firm dates of our trip are spending 22-25th of May in Campbeltown for the Malts Festival. This will include the Kintyre Gin Open Day at the Beinn an Tuirc Distillery and the Glen Scotia Dinner on day one; Glen Scotia Distillery Open Day and Springbank Dinner on day two; Springbank Distillery Open Day on day three and Kilkerran and Wm Cadenhead’s Open Day and the festival closing dinner at the Campbeltown Town Hall on the final day.

That’s quite a busy few days in Campbeltown and I’m expecting a few issues with jet lag during this period. But my time in Campbeltown doesn’t end there for me since I will be completing the Springbank Whisky School the following week.

Highland Games, Stirling Castle & Loch Lomond (26-27th May)

Most whisky loving tourists will be heading to Fes Isle on Islay from this weekend, but my dad and I will head the other way. The plan is to start early and drive to Blackford for their local Highland Games (where I hope to participate, if I can) before heading back to and overnighting at Drymen near Loch Lomond via Stirling Castle. The following day I will partake in the Glengoyne Distillery 5-hour Master Class while Dad explores Loch Lomond and then we will drop into Loch Lomond Distillery on the way back to Campbeltown.

Springbank Whisky School (28th May – 1st June)

This will be the week I’ve been waiting for. In fact, I would have waited for over two years by this stage. Springbank is both my favourite distillery and the only Scottish distillery to conduct 100% of their whisky production at one site. That makes Springbank the ideal location to undertake an intensive whisky school. Over the five days, students gain hands-on experience in every aspect of whisky making from floor malting to bottling. I cannot wait!

My dad on the other hand, will be taking the car and going to play golf for a few days…It’s his holiday too.

Islay (2-5th June)

No whisky lover’s trip to Scotland is complete without visiting Islay. My dad and I will meet back up again at the conclusion of the Springbank Whisky School and then we will be off to catch the ferry to Islay. The locals will no doubt be recovering from another successful Fes Isle which is a shame to miss, but at least we will be able to find accommodation for the next four days. We plan to take in the big eight, Caol Ila, Bunnahabhain, Kilchoman, Bruichladdich, Bowmore (Craftsman Tour), Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg Distilleries with some island exploration in between. I’m planning a visit to Kildalton Cross and a short island hop to Isle of Jura.

Heading North (5-6th June)

Next, we will be leaving Islay and travelling north to Oban for the night. From Oban we will continue north for a rest at Fiddler's Loch Ness in Drumnadrochit. The next day we will continue further into the Highlands for a short but sweet detour on the way to Speyside.

The Highlands (7-8th June)

Highland distilleries to visit include Dalmore, Glenmorangie, Balblair and Clynelish. Unfortunately, we probably won’t make it any further north this time but will make it a priority to visit the Orkney Isles (and the Isles of Mull and Skye) on my next trip to Scotland whenever that may be.

Speyside (9-13th June)

The next five days will be busy indeed but luckily the amount of ground to cover is short since so many distilleries are in close proximity to each other, mostly along the Spey river. There are some hard choices to make here on where we do and don’t get to visit but my plan includes the following: 

Tomatin, Ballindalloch, Glenfarclas, Cardhu, Tamdhu, Knockando, Aberlour, The Macallan, Speyside Cooperage, Genfiddich, Glenrothes, Forsyths Stills, Glen Grant, Glen Moray, Strathisla, Knockdhu and The GlenDronach for the Connoisseurs' Experience.

Heading South (14th June)

At this stage the trip will coming to an end and I have no doubt Dad and I will be feeling tired. We plan a leisurely scenic drive south through the Cairngorms National Park along A93 from Aboyne to Pitlochry.

Edinburgh (15-16th June)

We hope make it to Edinburgh by the 15th, home to the Scotch Whisky Experience and plan to catch up with The Tasmanian Whisky Academy who will be in the area but more on that later.

Northern England (17th June)

I made a promise to visit Abbie and Chris at Cooper King Distillery in Yorkshire and say G’day to their Tasmanian-sourced copper still, so that will be a stop on the way to Corby. The last stop on our trip is Corby, Northamptonshire, (recently voted the unhappiest place to live in Britain) where my Dad spent part of his youth. We will visit a few places for some final family story moments, then prepare for our departure back home to Australia.

Back Home (18th June)

Out last drive will take us through the fabled Sherwood Forrest to check out Robin Wood Craft and hopfully pick up an authentic handmade wooden quaich on the way to Manchester. Time to return the hire car and for the terribly long plane trip home and trying to pass though Australian Customs without paying an arm and a leg for all the whisky I’ve no doubt bough over the last month. It should be a crackin’ trip.

Still a Work in Progress

So that’s the current plan, but that’s not to say that some things may change between now and then or could quite possible change while we are in Scotland. Some of the trip is locked in, like our time in Campbeltown (which is almost half the trip) but this particular visit revolves around Springbank (my favourite distillery) and the Springbank Whisky School. If I wasn’t attending the school, I would be doing things differently. I acknowledge we won’t get to see everything or visit every place, but it’s impossible to do so. I decided early on, to only visit the Scottish mainland and Islay this time. The last thing I want is for this trip to feel more like work than a holiday.

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