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The Whiskey Trail: Scottish Highlands to Islay, Scotland

When you marry a whiskey man (or whisky man, as they say in Scotland) with whom you share an affinity for first editions, bedroom slippers, bran cereals, Ken Burns documentaries, gardening, and heavily peated scotch (we are essentially grandparents in the chrysalis) it’s tough to decide on a honeymoon destination.

Oddly enough, we both landed on a tiny island off the coast of Scotland through independent research (another beloved Hunt-Ralston hobby) and soon realized it would be the perfect spot to unwind after exploring the wilds of Ireland and bustling Brussels.

Halfway between Ireland and mainland Scotland, the remote Hebridean Isle of Islay is home to whitewashed harbor villages, deserted beaches, windswept hills, ancient ruins, a visit here and there from Ron Swanson – and some of the very finest whisky and gin that this good earth has to offer.

We set out through the Scottish Highlands with our trusty Nikon D3300 and a notebook in hand and came back with the most unforgettable experiences, new friends, memories, and some seriously heavenly drams.

You can read CPR’s travel journal and tasting notes over on the ASW Distillery blog, learn about the Scottish Routes Islay Tour here, and find my favorite trip sips at the bottom of this post.

1-Scottish-Routes---Driving-the-Highlands---4-Day-Islay-Whisky-Tour---Scotland-Honeymoon-Europe 1a-Deanston-Distillery---Scottish-Routes---4-Day-Islay-Whisky-Tour---Scotland-Honeymoon-Europe 2-Deanston-Distillery---River---Scottish-Routes---4-Day-Islay-Whisky-Tour---Scotland-Honeymoon-Europe 3-Scottish-Highlands-Castle---Eileen-Fisher-Royal-Baby-Alpaca-Grey-Kimono-Coat---European-Honeymoon-Travel-Diary 4-Scotland-Highlands-Tour-with-Scottish-Routes-to-Islay---Kilmartin-Hotel-in-Argyll 5-Scotland-Highlands-Tour-with-Scottish-Routes-to-Islay-Argyll 6-Tarbert-Scotland-Fishing-Village-Bay---Scottish-Routes-Islay-Tour---Highlands 7-Oban-Distillery---Obantown-Scotland---Scottish-Routes-Tour-from-Edinburgh-to-Islay-through-Highlands 8-On-the-Finlaggan-Ferry-from-Kennacraig-to-Port-Ellen-Islay-Whisky-Tour---Scottish-Routes-Review9a-View-from-the-Bowmore-House-Bed-and-Breakfast-B-and-B-Islay-Scotland-Scottish-Routes-Whisky-Tour-Review10-View-of-Lagavulin-Distillery---Scottish-Routes-Whisky-Tour--Islay-Scotland-4-Day-Holiday9a-View-from-the-Bowmore-House-Bed-and-Breakfast-B-and-B-Islay-Scotland---Scottish-Routes-Whisky-Tour-Review11-Laphroaig-Distillery-Peat-Fields-in-Islay-Scotland-Scottish-Routes-Whisky-Tour-Review 12-Laphroaig-Distillery-Peat-Field-in-Islay-Scotland---Hudson-Horrigan-Wrap-Strap-Booties-and-Paige-Verdugo-Jeggings 15-Along-the-bay-in-Islay-Scotland13-Lagavulin-Distillery-Islay-Scotland-Review-Ron-Swanson-Parks-and-Rec---Scottish-Routes-Whisky-Tour 14-Lagavulin-Distillery-Whisky-Tour-Islay-Scotland---Lagavulin-18-year-23-year-and-34-year-aged-scotch-warehouse16-Kildalton-Church-Ruins-Ancient-Kildalton-Cross-on-Islay-Scotland-Island 17-The-Honor-System-Cafe-at-Kildalton-Cross-Church-in-Islay-Scotland---Christmas-Cake-Coffee-Teas-Stand 17a-Cakes-at-Kildalton-Cross-Cafe---Honor-System---Christmas-Cakes-Tea-and-Coffee-in-Islay-Scotland 20-The-Scenery-and-Landscape-in-Islay-Scotland-Island-Hebredes-Whisky-Scotch-Tours18-Scotch-Barrels-to-Age-Whisky-at-Ardbeg-Distillery-Islay-Scotland---Scottish-Routes-4-Day-Tour 19-Whisky-Tasting-Flavour-Wheel-at-Ardbeg-Distillery-in-Islay-Scotland---Scottish-Routes-Review 24-The-Scenery-and-Landscape-in-Islay-Scotland-Island-Hebredes-Whisky-Scotch-Tours21-Laphroaig-Distillery-in-Islay-Scotland---Scottish-Routes-Whisky-Tour-Review 22-The-Barlay-Malting-Floor-at-Laphroaig-Distillery-in-Islay-Scotland23-The-Scenery-and-Landscape-in-Islay-Scotland-Island-Hebredes-Whisky-Scotch-Tours23a-Chad-Ralston-American-Spirit-Whisky-ASW-Distillery-Islay-Scotland24a-The-Still-House-at-Bruichladdich-Distillery-in-Islay-Scotland---Scottish-Routes-Whisky-Scotch-Tour 25-Fill-your-own-bottle-from-the-cask---Bruichladdich-Distillery-in-Islay-Scotland---The-Laddie-Valinch-26-year-unpeated-bourbon-finish-Classic-Laddie-Scotch 26-Bruichladdich-20-Year-Duncan-The-Budgie-Macfadyen-Fill-Your-Own-Bottle-Scotch-Bruichladdich-Islay-Scotland 28-A-Paddock-Pasture-of-Sheep-in-Islay-Scotland 29-The-Islay-Woollen-Mill-Co-Ltd---Oldest-Continuously-Operated-Woollen-Mill-in-Great-Britain-UK-Scotland-Islay-Tartan-Plaids-Knits 30-The-Islay-Woollen-Mill-Co-Ltd---Oldest-Continuously-Operated-Woollen-Mill-in-Great-Britain-UK-Scotland-Islay-Tartan-Plaids-Knits 31-Gordon-and-Sheila-Covell---Tweeds-The-Islay-Woollen-Mill-Co-Ltd---Oldest-Continuously-Operated-Woollen-Mill-in-Great-Britain-UK-Scotland-Islay-Tartan-Plaids-Knits 30-The-Islay-Woollen-Mill-Co-Ltd-Braveheart-Prince-Charles-Queen-England-UK-Britain-Tweeds-Scotland-Islay-Tartan-Plaids-Knits 33-Gordon-and-Sheila-Covell---Tweeds-The-Islay-Woollen-Mill-Co-Ltd---Oldest-Continuously-Operated-Woollen-Mill-in-Great-Britain-UK-Scotland-Islay-Tartan-Plaids-Knits 37-Delicious-Peated-Coffee-Peat-Water-at-Kilchoman-Distillery-in-Islay-Scotland---Scottish-Routes-Whisky-Scotch-Tour34-An-old-tractor-at-Kilchoman-Distillery-Birthplace-of-the-Land-Rover-Vehicle-Islay-Scotland 36-Malted-Sprouted-Barley-Floor-At-Kilchoman-Distillery-Birthplace-of-the-Land-Rover-Vehicle-Islay-Scotland35-Barbour-Beadnell-and-Goorin-Brothers-County-Line-Hat-At-Kilchoman-Distillery-Birthplace-of-the-Land-Rover-Vehicle-Islay-Scotland   38-Tweed-Tartan-Plaid-Whisky-Distillery-Pattern-for-Bunnahabhain-Distillery-in-Islay-Scotland---Scottish-Routes-Review38-Warehouse-Tasting-Cask-Strength-Scotch-Tasting-Thief-Bunnahabhain-Distillery-in-Islay-Scotland---Scottish-Routes-Review 40-Tapping-the-Cask-Warehouse-Tasting-Cask-Strength-Scotch-Tasting-Thief-Bunnahabhain-Distillery-in-Islay-Scotland---Scottish-Routes-Review 42a-The-Last-Dram-at-Bunnahabhain-Distillery-in-Islay-Scotland-Whisky-Tour-with-Scottish-Routes41-On-the-shore-Bunnahabhain-Distillery-in-Islay-Scotland---Scottish-Routes-Review43-On-the-shore-Bunnahabhain-Distillery-in-Islay-Scotland---Scottish-Routes-Review

Favorite Sips
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The Lagavulin 23 and 34 were my very favorites, but, alas, Iain told me these are difficult to come by outside the warehouse casks before kindly sharing a takeaway dram. “What’s the best whisky in the world?” he winked. “Free whisky!” I replied with a grin.

Accoutrements
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What I Wore
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Trip Packing List | Tasting Notes | My Camera Kit

Have you ever visited Scotland?
Edinburgh travel tips are up next!

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  • Michèle

    these photos are so so beautiful

    http://www.thefashionfraction.com

  • Helena S. de Ilenczfalva

    Looks soooo beautiful! 🙂 x
    Helena – Swedish girl in Tokyo
    http://www.ilenczfalva.com/
    https://www.instagram.com/helena_de_ilenczfalva/

  • Your website is looking amazing Jess! I’m in awe having a look around, great job!

    These photos are stunning & I love your joke at the end – I wonder was that the answer he was looking for or were you just on the ball with witty comebacks that day? Teehee.

    Ps – Brett and I are also grandparents at heart! – gotta love the slow life.

    xx

  • Thank you! I was tinkering on a bunch of design updates last night. Happy to hear they’re all working, and hope that you and Brett and the doggies are doing well!

    Mr. Iain *did* ask if someone had told me the “right” answer beforehand, and I had to admit that I’d first heard it in conversation with Julian Van Winkle and co at a Garden and Gun event earlier this year. I think it’s a secret handshake of the whiskey world.

  • Looks incredible!!

    @WanderLustGirls
    http://www.thewanderlustgirls.com