A new 10-night cruise to the Southern Hebridean Islands will take in the whisky isles of Islay and Jura as they celebrate 200 years of malt whisky production. The best way to experience these unique distilleries is from the sea, reflecting the maritime flavour of the whiskies themselves. Mini-cruise operator The Majestic Line is offering two departures for 2016 on May 21st and August 27th 2016 on board their luxury vessel, The Glen Etive. The May date of the new cruise “Islay and the Southern Hebrides” is timed for the Islay Festival of Music and Malt, Fèis Ìle, from 20 – 28th May 2016.
The cruise has a strong focus on whisky and local gourmet food produce, but the outstanding scenery, ancient history and rare wildlife will ensure a complete appreciation of these islands. Historically, the Southern Hebrides was of great significance as “Argyll’s Sea Kingdom” from the 10th century. The vessel will literally cruise in the wake of the Lords of the Isles, including to Corryvreckan, Europe’s largest whirlpool, and the name of one of Ardbeg’s most explosive whiskies.
The cruise takes in some of our favourites of the 9 distilleries on the isles of Islay and Jura where the world’s most legendary and smokiest malts are created. From the sheltered anchorage of Craighouse, guests will go ashore for a tour of the Isle of Jura distillery. Back on board, guests will dine on hand-dived, local scallops which are a great pairing with Jura’s flagship whisky, Origin. From our anchorage at Port Ellen on Islay, guests can experience a “celebration of smoke” at Laphroaig and Ardbeg Distilleries. Laphroaig is one of the few distilleries to still do their own maltings. Ardbeg is Islay’s ultimate Single Malt, winning Whisky of the Year three years in a row. Their whiskies have been described as ‘perfection on a palate’.
the cruise continues around the Islay coastline to Loch Indaal and a tasting at Islay’s oldest distillery, Bowmore. This distillery is extremely special not only because of the smooth, balanced single malt it produces but it also has the oldest maturation warehouse in Scotland and is the only one below sea level. Nearby Bruichladdich is home to the Octomore range, the world’s smokiest whisky.
Visits to non-whisky attractions are on offer depending on the wishes of guests, such as a walk to Kildalton Cross, a visit to the Islay Woollen Mill or a visit Finlaggan, home of Lord of the Isles. Guests have the option of a one-way walk along the shores of Loch Indaal between the Bowmore and Bruichladdich Distilleries, to be picked up by tender en route.
It is also possible to factor in an independent visit to Oban distillery, Scotland’s smallest and oldest distillery established in 1794, at the beginning or end of the cruise.
Apart from Jura and Islay, the cruise calls in at the Isles of Colonsay, Gigha and the Garvellachs as well as exploring some of the magnificent sea lochs on the mainland.