Scotland is rightly known for its wonderful whiskies; single malts, blended whiskies, fusion whiskies and vintage single malt whiskies. No visit to Scotland would be complete without sampling a ‘wee dram’ of uisge beatha or ‘the water of life’ …the name given by the ancient Celts to the fiery amber nectar we now call Scotch whisky.
But, now almost equally Scotland is famous for its wonderful Gins and I absolutely love gin. Gin has taken off and many of the whisky distilleries are now making gin as well as others who simply make gin because it is a faster cheaper production but no less delightful when you find the right tastes for yourself!
This is not a promotion for a particular brand but there are at the very least fifteen wonderful gins all using their own blends of botanicals and herbals to create a unique taste. Over 70% of the gin made in the UK is now produced in Scotland and the Scottish isles have now become famous for their own gin. Barra, Colonsay, Jura, Arran, Skye and Harris now have some stunning examples of handcrafted artisanal gins. Colonsay which is a tiny island has its own gin, not one but two, Wild Thyme Spirits and Wild Island Botanic Gin.
Harris gin has nine specially selected botanicals and kelp is key to this spirit. Kelp is sea weed and it is hand-harvested by a local diver from the deep underwater forests of the Outer Hebrides.
Edinburgh has its own gin and there are several like Glasgow, Ayrshire, Arbroath, Caithness, Perthshire and others; I particularly love the liqueur gins that are flavoured with rhubarb, or raspberry. There is nothing nicer than a nice chilled glass of bubbly which has been added to one of these to make a simple cocktail! To some of these gins one adds, lemon, or lime, or cucumber to add that little extra subtlety – even grapefruit – the mixers have been improved and are not fuddy duddy.
This last week we drove up to our favourite area of the West Coast, Oban and the land surrounding it both south and north. Here there are little glens like Glen Lonan which we adore driving through slowly and watching the scenery change through the seasons and encountering the big magnificent Highland Cattle; then the small lochs let alone the great Loch Awe and the mountains surrounding that wonderful huge water.
The coast is craggy and with islets off; some with ancient spiritual heritage like the Garvellachs where monks came and sought spiritual calm and understanding of their medieval world. The famous Corryvrekan whirlpool off the island of Jura is challenging in a motor boat and there are seals and bird life to enjoy.
For us the famous gardens like Arduaine at Kilmelford are outstandingly beautiful in this season, full of rhododendrons, camellias, bluebells, gorse and pieris plus other plants that bloom in the spring. Indeed, all of Scotland becomes a garden in the months of May and June.
Oban is a nice small town with its ferry port that could take you and your car to the Isles, in search of whisky…or gins. Mull is the big island off which is Iona with its spiritual Christian draw of the ancient Abbey and history of St. Columba. We enjoy the sea food at places like The Fish House literally at the Ferry Port of Oban so one is eating and relaxing and watching huge ferries come and go right in front of the restaurant.
Lunga House at Craobh Haven is such a lovely place. For a destination wedding one could not hope for more. Here it stands, a fairy tale mansion with wonderful heritage interior where one can have a Scottish wedding looking out on the Sound of Shuna and the Isles, lovely gardens and a most special place. I have known it now for over twenty-five years.
The marina at Craobh Haven and Ardfern has stunning yachts and the inshore waters are a sailor’s delight.
More photos for your viewing:
https://goo.gl/photos/rU9pX5UpW7e5Lk659 Argyll in May
https://goo.gl/photos/KaBUV5q6EdJgXpr38 Argyll in Autumn
Aline Dobbie is an author of four books on India and a travel writer. She lives in Scotland but travels widely throughout the year with an annual visit to India where she was born & grew up. Aline’s earlier life was in the corporate world but now lives a rural life with emphasis on travel, gardening, cooking, and family. India, South Africa, England, Scotland, Greece and other lovely places are a constant delight to her.