After the tasting at Kilchoman, Jimmy picked us up straight away. Which was a nice surprise given the whole taxi situation on Islay, but our luck wouldn’t last as we were about to have our worst afternoon on Islay. Spoilert alert, it wasn’t half bad but given that the rest of the days were nothing short of amazing this afternoon really stood out. Anyway, hear me out…or skip this part as it is pretty boring. It won’t be in the test, I promise. But, where was I? Oh right in Jimmy’s taxi…
As Private and I were happily drowsing away, halfheartedly listening to Jimmy’s war or football stories, Jimmy’s phone rang. And while we approached Loch Indaal on the B8018, Jimmy patiently explained to the other end of the line that he has to drive those two Germans to the other side of the Island first and thus he might only be able to pick him up in about one and a half hours, maybe later. Just like every other good taxi driver, Jimmy shared our story and plans with the unknown other end of the line as well as the story and plans of said other customer in the making with us. And as is tradition in the taxi driver’s guild he didn’t turn down the music or slowed down, so he basically yelled it across the glens. Did I mention that he’s half deaf on one ear due to his tank days?
Anyway, after he said Port Charlotte for the third time, it clicked in my slightly buzzed brain and I remembered that I like Port Charlotte! Jimmy! JIMMY! JI…drop us off at Bruichladdich, take care of your new customer and then pick us up at Bruichladdich again. No sooner said than done and Jimmy did a u-turn on the single track road – surprisingly without hitting any of the huge amount of sheep strolling on and around the street.
As we reached the distillery Jimmy informed us that they were on maintenance though, but his tour wouldn’t take long and he’d pick us up in half an hour. So we found ourselves in the nice Bruichladdich gift shop two days sooner than expected. We asked the girls behind the counter if there was some kind of tour or tasting we could do, but beside “Hello”, “No” was the other word the two spoke to us. So we strolled around the shop for about 30 minutes but neither bought nor tasted anything.
Later we talked to two different parties who also went and independent of each other both said that they had a really great time and without asking they were offered to taste what ever they wanted if the bottle price was under £200 and shown around. So I guess we had just bad luck and to be clear we didn’t ask if we could taste something but literally asked if there was a tasting or something similar to attend.
LPT: If you go to Bruichladdich, ask if you can taste some of their expressions!
No sign of Jimmy yet, so we walked up the street to the Mini Market Debbie’s to get some food and coffee. It’s a charming little corner shop with a little bit of everything including the obligatory selection of Islay Scotch as well as a small café where we got some coffee as well as some tasty homemade sandwiches. So far so good. But also a bit boring. About one and a half hours in, still no sign of Jimmy who wanted to call once he was done with his “quick tour”. Islay time, so no need to worry.
Since the weather cleared up a bit (well, a wee bit!), we spend some time at the shores of Loch Indaal and enjoyed the special smell and view. The air is a nice mixture of seaweed, salt and rubbery sulphur, and the view over the Loch towards Bowmore is also quite pretty. But than again, also quite boring. Since the wind got quite cold, we went for another coffee.
Back at the shop, we met the taxi driver who drove us from the airport to the Ballygrant when we arrived. He also works as a binman part time and had a wee chat. Eventhough we appreciated his and his colleges’ service, we wished he was on his other job at that time!
Three hours since he dropped us off and still no sign of the Jimmy the Tank, so we went back to the distillery where Private bought some Classic Laddie which he enjoyed quite a bit the night before. The next 40 minutes were spend drinking Classic Laddie out of take-away coffee mugs at the shores of Lake Indaal enjoying the view. Not bad, but still… Oh well, eventually Jimmy picked us up again without a word why he was more than four hours late…Remember, Islay time is much slower than your mainland time, but some Ileach’s sense of time seem to have lost the connection to this world.
Back at our favorite home away from home, the fantastic Ballygrant Inn, it seemed like everyone else was having a slow day as we found both dogs sleeping and the cat nowhere to be seen.
After a quick shower we went down to the pub, where the evening seemed slow as well. We started with some beers and after a quick chat with Evan, we had some incredibly good food: I had the Islay Venison with Red Wine Casserole and it was easily the best food I had on the trip. So good, I just had to top it with some desert!
And then we hit the bar for some drams…