VIP Visits to Raasay

After an inspiring visit to one of Scotland’s oldest distilleries – Dalmore – hosted by Gerry Tosh, the small group of whisky enthusiasts – Chris van Der Kuyl, Paddy Burns and Kevin Dorren hopped aboard a helicopter for a fantastic journey on to Raasay. What a night we had (more pictures to follow) enjoying delicious Raasay whiskies and a tasty Hebridean meal in the distillery gathering room. The next morning saw an even more spectacular return to the Central Lowlands via a section over the Cape Wrath Trail and then Glencoe and on over the Perthshire hills to home.

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Thinking about fitness for 2022

A good inspirational read that made me want to do a bit more cycling, and improve my pathetic swimming ability from this year on. Will resolve to come back and edit this post with some target cycle routes.

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Hebridean Whisky Trail Coming to Life

As I look back on 2021, which I hope will be known as the last year of the pandemic, it is pleasing to note that we are making good progress in establishing the Hebridean Whisky Trail.

The Hebrides, long famous for whiskies, both legal and illegal, is sure to build on it’s long established Islay island reputation to elevate itself as Scotland’s premiere whisky region. Dave Broom captures a good summary of where the region is at overall in an essay recently published by Bruichladdich :

Bruichladdich, Torabhaig, Raasay, NcNean, Harris, Ardnamurchan… Dave Broom charts a new approach to distilling

Early September next year will see the first Hebridean Whisky Festival when the five founding distilleries will get together at the Sligachan Hotel offering a traditional ceilidh welcome to whisky enthusiasts and other tourists.

We are soon to appoint a Development Manager whose full time job will be to promote the trail, enlist and promote local support and organise the annual festival. This role will be exactly what is needed to coral the undoubted enthusiasm and support from the member distilleries.

The trail which can start or end with Isle of Jura distillery in the south and start or end with the Isle of Harris Distillery in the north, winds its way through unique Hebridean landscapes by sea and land past Torobhaig Distillery, Talisker distillery and the Isle of Raasay Distillery. We believe it is a trail for adventurers and whisky pioneers. The trail’s stamped passport earned by those who visit all the distilleries and the festival should be something that is sought after by whisky fans and the growing number of tourists that prefer more active holiday breaks.

And here are a few of my memories from the trail so far …. Enjoy…

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The Weekend I visited Raasay to think about a distillery

Jan 11th&12th 2014

Well it was early 2014, and our conversations from the previous year (mainly started and remembered in the 2013 Courchevel Mates Ski Trip) relating to a distillery were progressing on several fronts. Iain Ross, my best mate from school, was sure that he knew ‘the ideal spot for a distillery’. After delaying or deferring (forever) Iain’s idea for selling cool bonnets to a global audience we pencilled in a visit to Raasay. New distillery investment plans were appearing regularly, but all smacked of a disparate investment group backing an ambitious entrepreneurial group, usually with no start up or whisky industry experience, which to my mind wasn’t a great formula for long term success for the early investors. In hindsight one group that I was impressed was because of the management teams previous industry experience, was the Isle Of Harris Distillery – never mind, you can’t get everything right. Raasay – a unique island in the lee of Skye with no chance of being emulated and a charm that was interest arousing seemed to me like a potentially stronger brand recipe than many obscure and contrived potential from various Central Lowlands, Fife and Borders initiatives. Having solicited the locals opinion (met Embie, Davie Croy, John the local engineer(sadly passed away), Ollie the Architect and Norman’s Dad – local crofter,fireman and policeman), which was overwhelmingly positive,in the local the night before, the input from Leonie and the children, the changing views (typical four seasons in a day stuff from NW Scotland) I left that Sunday resolute to work out how I could make this happen. I walked round the plot of land imagining how it would fit the size of buildings I estimated would be required to produce whisky – to be honest warehousing and bottling were functions I imagined would be ‘outsourced’ and felt confident in my experience to arrange those activities. How do you make (good) whisky and how much would this venture cost were main questions on my mind ? We left Raasay with the kids enjoying steering the ferry across the short stretch between Churchton Bay and Sconser on Raasay.

I noticed most of the start ups were employing or paying consultancy fees to typical industry heavyweights to take the lead on producing their single malt, but again for me that felt like employing some industry heavyweights from IBM etc for a software start up – buyer beware ! My natural entrepreneurial spirit led me more towards Alasdair Day, someone who had given up his job as a food scientist to pursue the emotion that was aroused when he was given his great grandfathers whisky recipe book. Alasdair wanted to build a distillery in the Borders but was having difficulty raising the finance to do this – I asked Alasdair if he would help me build a distillery on Raasay and in return I would reward him and shook hands that I wouldn’t forget his plans re the Borders, but only when we had got Raasay well and truly established. I plan to catch up with the current day progressively.

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Roll on the Adlerweg – this is from our last Peaks of the Balkans adventure.

Well things are better this year; I hesitated in posting this post last Christmas Eve as I wasn’t sure (quite rightly) if we (Mike Stewart, Simon and Jeremy Parkes and Calvin Crane) would be doing our normal annual walking week. We were scheduled to do the Adlerweg ( in September 2020 and of course like everything it was cancelled. One year on and I’m sure we will be going as planned next year – in fact making up for lost time we have the Cape Wrath Trail leg 2 ( in May, and the Adlerweg in September 2022 – will keep you posted. @biebod .

Must remember where this was – the cocktail bar in the middle of the mountains !
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Key Business Rules from Amazon

Enjoyed the read and started to think more about customers and operational excellence…

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Caskshare – The Collective

I’m feeling good today seeing Caskshare come to life – soon to be a new whisky club for the ‘Brewdog Generation’. Unique quality single cask whiskies and other casked spirits available in ‘Caskshares’ for a global audience of spirits and whisky enthusiasts and lovers.

Just honing our home page before pre Xmas launch.

Join the Caskshare Collective to receive exclusive access to unique whiskies and monitor their progress as they mature, direct to your door.
— Read on

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