Campbeltown Malts Festival: Glasgow to Campbeltown, and a walking tour

Getting out of bed the next morning was easier than could be expected, but the motivation was there. The bus for Campbeltown was leaving Buchanan at a quarter past nine, and if we missed that bus we would miss our first event: A walking tour with Kate Watt. So we made haste towards the bus station, stopping at a convenient Sainsbury’s for lunch and drink supplies and made it to Buchanan in good time. But then we decided coffee would be a good idea, and Mats was left to watch our bags while Eva and I got in line at the station cafe. Unfortunately the guy behind the counter turned out to be unable to keep track of orders and money received (and also be eager to chat to regulars, which is understandable, but inconvenient). But we got our coffee eventually, found seats on the bus and (well, speaking for myself) relaxed mentally. With a four hour bus ride ahead of us, there was not much to do except lean back and enjoy the Scottish landscape zooming past.

In Inverary the bus stops for ten minutes and I sprinted over to Loch Fyne Whiskies to see if they had any of their own bottlings available. Since they did, a Bunnahabhain, I made a purchase of that plus a variety pack of three Fyne Ales bottles. When I exited the shop and checked the time I realised I still had seven minutes, enough to obtain a cup of coffe, hopefully, before the bus left. Pretty efficient shopping, even if I do say so myself.

Utsikt fra bussen
View from the bus

After Inverary the bus stopped by Kennacraig ferry terminal, naturally, which is where you’d get the ferry to Islay, and I must admit I was a little tempted to jump off and get on board the ferry, but I resisted, and soon after Campbeltown came into view at last.

Campbeltown is not a big town, so we found Earadale B&B easily enough, and were led from there around the block to No 16 Argyll Street, where the self catering flat we had ooked for the next two night was located. We’d observed a Cooperative branch from the bus, and with no time to lose we set off for it and purchased the neccessary breakfast and snack staples for our two day stay. With about half an hour to spare before our rendevouz down at the harbour, I set off in search of Fish & Chips (I was getting distinctly peckish), and found an open cafe at last, though I had to bring the food and eat it on the move.

No 16 Argyle Street
No 16 Argyle Street

We met Kate Watt and 15-20 other walking (or pubcrawl) tour participants by the Tourist Information by the harbour, all ready and eager for Whisky Impressions’ first guided walk: Liquid History.

Kate Watt, Whisky Impressions
Kate Watt, Whisky Impressions

Kate started the tour by giving us an introduction to the history of Campbeltown. I took plenty of notes for my own benefit, but I’ll skip the history lesson here.


We visited three pubs as part of the tour (but had many more pointed out to us), The Feathers, Kilbrannan and Burnside, and had a “half and half” at each one, that is half a pint of beer and a half measure of whisky. The whisky was good and the pubs were friendly, but the beer selection was pretty dire. Tenants and Guiness were repeat performers, as well as Heverlee, new to us, but not an aquaintance we were eager to develop further. Nevertheless, we had a very good time, and I will most certainly repeat the experience if I ever get the chance.

We’d have happily hung out with Kate and the rest of the group for a good while longer, but were painfully aware that we had a dinner to attend and that we were rather in need of a brush up before that, so we bid our goodbyes and headed back to base. A report from the dinner, well, the parts I actually participated in, will follow.

More pictures on Flickr.

Longmorn 26 years Cadenhead Small Batch 49.5%


Nose: Pick and mix candy; Mint humbugs, Haribo peaches and sour frogs. With water it turns towards a flowery sweetness, with red clovers and dandelion flower.

Palate: Tastes older, and stronger, than it smells. Oaky bitterness and almond oil, but also spices, black pepper and some sweeter ones.

Comments: Fantastic nose, nice flavour. I’ll have another, please…

Tried at a tasting with Frode Harring at Raus, 8 June 2016.

Campbeltown Malts Festival part 1: Trondheim to Glasgow

Due to a combination of the usual travel-induced insomnia and obsessing over whether I had remembered everything for the 17th of May celebrations (it being my first year as a band mum on top of everything) I started my trip to Campbeltown with all of two hours sleep (and five hours restless dozing). Luckily I was also on an travel-induced adrenaline high, so I managed surprisingly well all things considered.

I met up with my travel companions, Eva and Mats, at Værnes (Trondheim Airport). They’d made a brave effort to get the same airport express as me, but I was even earlier than I’d said I would be. We checked in and got through security without a hitch. We’d had a message from the airline, Norwegian, that because of the ongoing strike there would be no food or drink available on board, and we were also prepared for limited service at the airport. We had hoped for an Untappd check-in at O’Leary’s, but it was not to be.


The flight to Gardermoen was uneventful, and once through to the international terminal at Gardermoen we could purchase both food and drink. We landed in Edinburgh according to schedule, got our luggage and made for “Bus stops” to find the bus to Glasgow. It was now past nine local time, and we were eager to get to the hotel to check in.

Interesting signage, we wantet stand C, which is in fact before stand A and B…

While we waited for the bus, a familiar gentleman came strolling towards “Stand C”, Jon Bertelsen had obviously arrived on the same flight and was also staying in Glasgow that evening. After an hour’s bus ride and a quick walk, Eva, Mats and I checked in to Best Western Glasgow City Hotel. Jon sent a message to say he was now at The Pot Still and that they closed at midnight, so we plunged out into the Glagow evening, beauty sleep be damned.

Håndpumper på The Pot Still, bak skimter du en brøkdel av whiskyutvalget.
Handpumps at The Pot Still, a fraction of their whisky collection is visible at the back of the bar.

After a congenial hour or so at The Pot Still we made an attempt at getting another pint at Jon’s hotel (which was close by), but they were only serving guests, not guests of guests, at that time of night, so the three of us bid Jon good night and see-you-soon and made our way back to Best Western and our beds. Just as well, really, because we had a bus we HAD to catch in the morning.

Slik ser det ut når man nerder seg sammen over øl og whisky... Ja, vi var bare fire. Ja, vi hadde bare en liten time.
This is what it looks like when beer and whisky nerds meet..

Talking about Best Western: We booked through with our main criteria being relative nearness to Buchanan Bus Station, wifi and cheapness. At arrival, I got a keycard that didn’t work, but that was resolved in a timely manner an apart from that I had no complaints. The rooms were relatively spacious, my bed was impeccable. And the door had both a physical lock in addition to the electronic one (always more satisfying), and also a security chain, which quite simply does wonders for my stress levels.

My room at Best Western Glasgow City
Security chain AND lock!

See, a hotel review as a bonus.

Part 2 to follow.