This day is one that both Brad and I have been waiting for - our tour of the Balevnie distillery.
Oh. My. Gods.
A story for you. Back in March at the Whiskies of the World expo in SF, Brad and I spoke with the Glenfiddich ambassador and mentioned that we were planning to go on their tour. He started to shake his head, telling us to speak with the Balvenie ambassador about their tour and that THAT tour was the one we should take.
Well, it was a FABULOUS tour, and if anyone reading this ever gets out this way - make the time. There are only 2 tours a day, one at 10 and the other at 2. We selected the 10am one. We got to see the barley in nearly every processing level including walking INTO the kilns that dry the sprouted barley before grinding. Kay even tasted it at that point (the guide said that it could be used as cereal at this stage). All of the process was amazing, and the most amazing part was that it was a functioning distillery - people were working around our tour and in some cases we were able to take advantage of it.
At one point in the tour, we entered Warehouse 24. According to our guide, this building is known to be haunted by a woman in a green dress. All three of us noticed her. Brad got a hug for acknowledging her (he just said 'hello'), I got a hand-hold and a message of "I never get people who can talk to me", and Kay spoke to her a bit more (I don't remember now what they spoke about).
After the tour was the whiskey tasting, of course. We tried 5 different Balvenie bottleings. Even Kay, who didn't much care for whiskey at all, like this brand. My favorites were the 18 and the 30. Here are pics from the distillery tour.
Then we were off! We had limited time to reach the ferry to Orkney. The drive up was beautiful and we drove past two stops that we'll be making on our trip back from Orkney - the Dalmore distillery and the Gunn Heritage museum.
We got to the ferry port exactly on time :) Then had to wait, because the ferry itself was late. The waters were quite rough, so it was running late.
But I survived the crossing (I've had problems with ferries before), and we got to our B&B outside Stromness at about 8:30. We ran to the nearest grocery store (a place called The Cooperative) to grab a quick bite as the sidewalks here roll up at 9pm.