Sunday, March 27, 2016

Part 3... Other passengers and our very first distillery, Glengoyne

After a delicious dinner in the Columba Restaurant, Bill and I started mingling with some of the other passengers.  The vast majority of our fellow cruisers were older couples who hailed from England.  There were a couple of Scots in the mix, and a German couple, as well as two other Americans who came from Tallahassee, Florida.  This cruise line doesn't tend to attract a lot of Americans.  So far, on our three Hebridean experiences, Bill and I have met a total of four others coming from the States.

Hebridean cruises seem to attract an older, well-heeled crowd.  You might run into professors, doctors, lawyers, and other people with money on this ship.  In fact, Queen Elizabeth II herself has cruised on Hebridean Princess at least twice.  Ever since she had to get rid of the Britannia, she's had to look for other ways to travel in style.  I figured if Queen Elizabeth II is a fan of Hebridean Princess, I should be too.

Bill and I definitely don't have a lot of money, but we also don't have kids or a house to pay for.  And, as I wrote earlier, we travel in the cheap cabins.


Egon the bartender pours champagne... probably for me.

Most of passengers on Hebridean Princess are polite, if not particularly chummy.  By the end of the week, we had made friends with a couple with London who were seated near us in the restaurant.  And most everyone, by the end of the week, was very cordial if not downright friendly.  The staff, on the other hand, is unfailingly warm and polite and very service oriented.  They can't do enough for you.  I will definitely write more about that as I blog more about this trip.

The whisky expert, Charles Maclean, was also aboard.  Mr. Maclean has written many books about whisky and could lecture endlessly about it.  I must confess, my interests in whisky aren't really academic.  I just like to drink.  Bill is more of a scotch drinker than I am, though I am known to enjoy a wee dram or two when the mood strikes.


This was on our credenza all week...

On our first Hebridean cruise, Bill and I visited the Arran and Springbank distilleries, two of the distilleries that were on our itinerary.  They were new whiskies to us in 2012, but we have since become fans.  I particularly enjoy Sprinkbank whiskies and order them from masterofmalt.com fairly frequently.  One can certainly find good scotch in Germany, but I like to shop online and try some of the more obscure stuff out there.  But, like I said, I'm not a scotch expert even after having taken this cruise.  I just know more now than I did a couple of weeks ago.


Glengoyne Distillery.  We were told the distillery is in the Highlands, while just across the street where our bus was parked was considered the Lowlands...

Our first port of call was Helensburgh.  During the morning, passengers had a choice of visiting Glengoyne Distillery or the Hill House.  Our guide happens to live in Helensburgh, so he pointed out his home, along with all the other items of interest.  It was a long ride to the Glengoyne Distillery, but it was well worth the trip.  Glengoyne offered visitors something that was not offered at any of the other distilleries we visited all week.  After showing us around the distillery, we were taken to a room where we allowed to make our own blend of scotch!

I happened to be in the group led by a jaunty chap named Ally, who spoke with a thick Scottish brogue and wore tartan pants.  He had a quick wit and a ready smile and I enjoyed listening to him explain whisky as he cracked jokes.


But this was super cool...


We mixed whiskies, tasting the individual ones as we added them to a beaker and in our very own bottle...


The beautiful surroundings...




I loved this display, which showed the many shades of whisky as it ages...  This was also where I was reminded of the "Angel's share", which is the scotch that evaporates during aging.  You can always tell a distillery by the black trees outside...


And a cool display of the woods used in the casks...



Storage.


Everyone was enjoying this, but I made everyone laugh when I admitted I was too drunk to write down all my notes.


Bill had a blast.


I'm not sure they do this for everyone who tours the facility, but it sure made our trip very memorable... or as memorable as possible after I tasted all that whisky!  



Ta da!


And it was put in a nice little box for me!

After I purchased a whisky themed cookbook in the gift shop, we got back on the bus and made our way back to the ship.  The second evening of the cruise was to be our first gala dinner.  Bill donned his dress blues and I put on a pretty dress...


This uniform was very intriguing to many of our fellow passengers...



And it always makes me proud to see Bill wearing it!






Yes, the bottom button was undone for this meal...






Turn down for the night!






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