Glasgow had been the necessary logistical evil: meet friends from London, haggle over the price of a hire car, get supplies.
We were soon on the road, though, past Lomond, heading to Arrochar and beyond. We couldn’t resist the Loch Fyne oysters and smoked salmon before pressing on to Kennacraig and the Cal Mac.
The sea looked wild but the crossing was relatively smooth, although hypersensitive alarms honked and screached on the car deck as the Isle of Arran rode the frothy waves of the windswept loch.
A heavy clag hung over the Paps of Jura and the green of the isles fought with steel grey of the sea and sky.
From Askaig, we headed to Port Ellen along (possibly) the straightest road in Scotland. Peat beds lay either side of the road reminding us of why we were here… the whisky.
The ‘big three’ – Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Laphroaig – were our neighbours for the weekend.
We reconnoitred on hired bikes and grasped the concept of terroir, oft quoted by those seeking to impress at dinner parties.
The combination of burning peat (at Laphroaig anyway) and salt kick-started the taste buds and memories of fine malts were rekindled.
A heady, pungent whiff of alcohol as we pedalled past Lagavulin completed the sensory feast.
We stopped at Ardbeg and the tasting started.