Jun 14, 2009
|I was expecting it to be noisy in the hotel the previous night, but we only heard about five minutes of loud talking early in the morning, and I was able to go right back to sleep.
Some of our group was going to Culloden to see the battlefield in the morning, so they were eating earlier at 7:15 am. Doug was going, and although I was not, I went down to have breakfast with him. The marble floor in the lobby was sticky in places, which was my first clue that there might have been some rowdy partying the night before. At breakfast, some of the other people on tour had been kept awake by the noise, and when some of them came down at 7:00 am, there were still people milling about the lobby, and there were wine bottles all over the lobby and a lot of cigarette butts on the sidewalk outside. Some of the partiers had also been making rude comments and trying to provoke fights, I guess still wound up and drunk from the night before (I don’t think they had even gone to bed yet).
After breakfast, Doug left with about seven other people on the coach to go to Culloden. I went back up to the room and just putted around, until the coach came back a little later to take some of us to Pringle’s Woolen Factory and Shop about 15 minutes away. We got there just as it opened at 10:00 am, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves. It is a big operation, with many different Scottish merchants all selling in this huge shop, with central cash registers. There was a food section with shortbread and the like, a whisky shop (which couldn’t sell anything before 12:30 pm because it was a Sunday shopping law), and other areas that sold men’s and women’s clothing, including a section for children and outdoor clothing, luggage, woolens and tartans. I bought a cream coloured wool cardigan, a MacFarlane tartan tie for Doug, some nibblies, and a necklace with a Celtic design.
We headed back to the hotel to pick up the rest of the group (Doug and the others who went to Culloden had taken a taxi back), and we were on our way by 11:00 am to visit the Glenmorangie Distillery, about an hour’s drive away.
On the way, we passed over and alongside the Moray Firth, and we saw seals basking on the rocks in the water. We also saw some oil platforms in the Firth, with their huge concrete pilings. Although the day had started out overcast and heavy rain was forecast, happily it started to clear up and the sun had come out. There were just a few little white fluffy clouds, and we were all glad to see the sun had come out again.
The Glenmorangie Distillery was again a very pretty series of stone buildings set in a very lovely setting of lawns, gardens, and even a small pond with a waterfall and brilliant red rhododendron bushes in bloom around it.
A girl (who was university age I guess) took us on a tour. Again, it was the very basics of how whisky was made, and I could tell it was almost a word-for-word repeat of what every tour group must hear. This was obviously a very commercial operation, and the insides of the buildings looked quite modern, and I saw my first stainless steel mash tuns, instead of the Oregon pine we’ve seen so far. Also, the still room, which had 12 of the largest copper stills I’ve seen yet. The room in which they were was very modern and new, but had large windows that looked over the rest of the distillery.
After our tour, we went to the shop with the tasting room off to the side. Although the ladies who had sat out the tour had been offered a dram, they didn’t have any for us, and there was a little grumbling. A few people bought stuff in the shops, but most of the group were disgruntled and went outside to walk the grounds and take photos. The bus came back after a short while, and some of the ladies had thoughtfully bought some fruit, sandwiches and crisps for us. When Morag heard that we hadn’t had any whisky after our tour, she marched down to the shop and lo and behold, we were offered a dram after all! Most went down to partake, but we stayed on the bus and had something to eat. When we got back on our way again, Morag apologized for the poor treatment we had received there. Our outstanding tours of Auchentoshan and Bruichladdich had indeed spoiled us!
The coach was now heading to Urquhart Castle by way of Inverness, but we asked to be dropped off at the hotel as we had seen the Castle on a previous trip to Scotland. A few others opted out as well. Doug and I walked over the bridge and came upon a German market in a pedestrianized area, where booths sold a variety of stuff – jewelery, knitwear, wood carvings, and food like olives, baklava, noodles, German sausage and crepes. There were many people wandering about, I’m sure partly because the afternoon had turned out so fair and sunny.
There was a shopping mall at the end of the market, and we went inside and had some sandwiches for lunch. After wandering and window shopping our way back, I went to our hotel to have a nap (no employees burst in this time), while Doug went up to explore Inverness Castle and the area. Apparently, the Castle is now a courthouse and civic building.
We came down for supper at 7:00 pm, and I had smoked mackerel for a starter, which was delicious. For my main course, I had roast leg of lamb with roast potatoes and vegetables, and apple flan with vanilla custard for dessert. The food really has been quite good here, and despite the rowdy partiers, the staff has made up for any inconvenience we’ve suffered.
We had some coffee with the group in the lobby area after supper, and then went up to bed. I was still tired, so I turned out my light at 10:00 pm.