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Reached from Glasgow via one of the country’s finest and most scenic routes, taking in the banks of Loch Lomond, eerie Loch Long, the Rest and Be Thankful pass and spectacular Loch Fyne, the Kintyre peninsula has an end-of-the-earth feel, with the Antrim Coast and Northern Ireland just a stone’s throw away across the water.
Recently restored, this historic harbour front hotel is an imposing building overlooking Campbeltown Loch itself – that’s the one made famous in song by Andy Stewart, who wished it were whisky! As well as a fine Scottish restaurant, the Black Sheep pub is a welcoming meeting place.
Campbeltown was once the Scotch whisky capital of the world – until prohibition, taxes and greed brought it all crashing down. You can still see the remnants of the town’s distilling history at virtually every turn. A handful of local producers have gradually restored its reputation and today you can discover more as your holiday begins in earnest, with two distillery visits. The first, at Torrisdale, is home to the rather excellent Kintyre gin. Within 30 minutes’ drive – taxis are readily available and hotel staff will be happy to arrange if you wish – the setting here is quite something, and guests are welcome to stroll the mile long private walk through the estate or to wander the estate’s very own stretch of beach, before or after the tour of this bijou establishment. During the tour you’ll be invited to take part in the Gin School learning the basics of distillery on the way to creating your very own edition.
Your second distillery visit is to Glen Scotia, within a few hundred yards of your hotel. Founded in 1832, this is one of Scotland’s smallest distilleries, producing double cask, 15 year old and Victoriana expressions. You’re in for a treat during a ‘Manager’s Tour and Tasting,’ with a range of drams to be enjoyed in the manager’s office at tour’s end. If you wish, you could also squeeze in a trip to Springbank, Campbeltown’s most famous tipple.
It’s just a short drive from Campbeltown to Kennacraig, where you’ll catch your first ferry of this tour, to the legendary Whisky Island of Islay (pron: ‘Isle-ah’). Arriving at either Port Ellen or Port Askaig, it’s no more than a 30 minutes or so drive to your base in the heart of the island.
Situated in the heart of the 18th century ‘island capital’ of Bowmore, this historic whitewashed inn by the harbour has seen a host of changes over the years. Most recently it’s been brought up to date with stylish en-suite bedrooms featuring splashes of tweed and contrasting earthy tones, while downstairs you’ll find a new conservatory with gorgeous views across Loch Indaal. What a great spot in which to enjoy a dram. The hotel’s award winning restaurant offers an “a la carte” menu incorporating seasonal dishes using the finest locally sourced produce, while for more informal dining, the lounge bar offers an all day menu.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast this morning, after which you’ll be collected by our specially chosen local driver-guide and whisked away for a full day out on the island, including visits to two of its most appealing distilleries. Bruichladdich has a reputation as something of a maverick, and is home to the Botanist, Islay’s only gin. You’ll learn how its 22 hand-foraged local island botanicals come together in this unique spirit, with unhurried tastings along the way. Next, make your way to Ardnahoe Distillery, for a private tour of this unique facility, followed by chef prepared lunch in the in-house café, with stunning views of the isle of Jura. Along the way, your guide will give you a flavour of the deep local understanding of Islay, its history, geology and wildlife
Of course, if there are any other Islay distilleries you would particularly like to visit, please just let us know.
Wave goodbye to Islay and make the return crossing to Kennacraig, enjoying views to Jura and Kintyre as you sail. From here, take another of Scotland’s terrific driving routes, through deeply historic Kilmartin Glen and follow the road as it snakes and slithers along the picturesque Argyllshire coast, to ‘Scotland’s Seafood Capital’ of Oban. You’ll arrive in plenty of time to explore this classic Argyll fishing port and maybe even take a tour of Oban distillery, within easy walking distance of your accommodation.
Set on the hill overlooking town, your family owned guesthouse in Oban is a welcoming and comfortable property, an imposing Victorian residence. Your hosts are only too keen to help you make the most of your stay, passionate as they are about Oban and all it has to offer.
Yet another of Scotland’s finest driving routes awaits this morning, after a beautifully prepared breakfast, of course. Head away from Oban, hugging the coast of Loch Linnhe with views of the Isle of Lismore, northwards to Fort William, nestling at the base of Ben Nevis. From here, take the Road to the Isles all the way to Mallaig for your first ferry of the day, carrying you over the sea to the most famous Isle of Skye. Once on the island, it’s just a few minutes’ drive to one of Scotland’s newest distilleries, at Torabhaig, where you’ll enjoy a tour of this impressive facility, hosted by friendly and knowledgeable staff. Takeaway drams are offered for drivers to enjoy later.
Travel on through the Sleat peninsula to catch the ferry for the short crossing to the Isle of Raasay, where you’re in for a real treat to round off your gin and whisky touring holiday.
What better way to top off your trip than with a two night stay in the most comfortable accommodation at Scotland’s newest island distillery? Raasay Distillery has been created from the shell of a once-derelict Victorian building, almost lost to the elements just a few short years ago. Now, the island’s first legal(!) distillery is up and running and offers some of the most appealing bed and breakfast accommodation available, with the stills operating directly below your feet.
Set between Skye and the Applecross peninsula, the Isle of Raasay, while relatively tiny, is host to a diversity of geology way beyond its size. Thick forest, rolling hills and often deserted beaches make up just some of the attractions here, while its fascinating history includes the story of Calum’s road – singlehandedly built by the postman – and the lives of Queen Victoria’s piper John McKay, and the poet Sorley MacLean. With a backdrop of the Skye Cuillins to the West and Torridon to the East, Raasay punches several leagues above its weight as one of Scotland’s most appealing islands.
Take your final ferry crossing back to Skye, then brace yourself for more breathtaking scenery as you cross the Skye Bridge back to the mainland. From here, you’ll traverse expansive Glengarry and the intimidating valley of Glencoe on your way back towards Glasgow and the south, armed with greater knowledge of Scotland’s gin and whisky heritage – plus a few souvenir bottles, we imagine!
This multi-centre holiday includes time in Kintyre, Islay, Oban and the Isle of Raasay.
£1495 per person in March and November, £1575 per person in April and October, £1680 per person from May to September.
Price is based on two people sharing a double or twin room for seven nights on a B&B basis. The holiday includes tours of Torrisdale, Glen Scotia, Bruichladdich, Ardnahoe, Torabhaig and Raasay distilleries, with lunch provided at Ardnahoe, and a private guided tour of Islay. Ferry crossings for car and two passengers are also included.
Car rental is not included, but available for a range of vehicles – do just let us know and we can provide you with a quote.
Before your departure, you will receive personalised holiday information including full directions, recommended routes, and suggestions on places to visit depending on your interests and our local knowledge to help you get the most from your holiday.
All itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.
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This holiday can be arranged from March until the end of November.
Availability is individually checked for a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest houses and other independent businesses, so please bear with us and we will respond in 1-2 working days.
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All our holiday prices include a service charge of £9 per person per night towards the costs we incur in researching, planning and designing your holiday.
We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value. All we ask is that you write to us within 7 days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.