Part 10… Jura Distillery

It took a couple of hours to cruise from Port Ellen to the Isle of Jura, where Jura Distillery is located. The weather was absolutely perfect.  We had sunshine and mild temperatures for the tender ride to shore, where a minivan was waiting to take us to the distillery.  Jura appeared to be a pretty desolate place.  I got the sense that the distillery was one of the few things going on there, though the scenery was beautiful and quiet.

John the guide offered to take a photo of Bill and me…  He’s not the first to do that.  I guess we look very sweet on each other.  I hate having my picture taken, though.  It usually depresses me.  So I declined.  I probably should have said yes, though.  Bill has a way of making me glow.

A small restaurant next to the distillery offered guests a chance for a potty break.  I walked in there and saw what appeared to be a bunch of locals shooting pool.  I enjoy small communities where people tend to know each other and I saw many of them while we were on our cruise.

We might have popped in for some cake if I wasn’t already worried about popping out of my pants.  

While we were walking around the grounds, a Scottish woman on our cruise was telling Bill and me about the “angel’s share” and how it turns trees around whisky distilleries black.  Apparently, the booze authorities in the UK know exactly how black the trees are supposed to be and pay close attention to the environment.  We heard over and over again how strict the laws about booze making are in Britain.  Of course, it all has to do with money… and health and safety.

I wish I remembered the name of our guide at the Jura Distillery, but I will say that I thought she did a fantastic job with the tour.  She had a warm personality and seemed to have the enthusiasm of a young teacher as she gave us the very interesting history of how the Jura Distillery came to be.  She mentioned that it was founded by the Campbell family.  The Campbells weren’t such good landlords, so the distillery ended up passing through a number of hands before it came to what it is today.

A pretty church in Jura.

Both Bill and I are related to Campbells… wonder if they’re the same folks?  I kind of doubt it, but it’s fun to wonder.  Bill happens to be a distant relative of Glen Campbell, the singer.  My Campbell connection was several hundred years ago.  Though Bill bears a passing resemblance to Glen Campbell, he can’t carry a tune in a bucket.

Anyway, a couple of folks were not able to take the tour because it involved climbing a lot of stairs.  They sat in the visitor’s center and drank whisky instead.  I think we were only supposed to taste one or two, but I heard they disregarded that guideline.  Meanwhile, our bubbly and adorable guide gave us a chance to smell some of the substances destined to be whisky and I got a hell of a shock to my schnozz.  Breathing the alcoholic fumes was like hitting the smelling salts after a faint.

Because the weather was so pretty, Bill and I decided to walk back to the ship.  It was a pretty decent stroll next to the shore.  As we were walking, several staff members passed us on bikes.  One thing I haven’t yet mentioned in these blog posts is that Hebridean seems fairly good about letting their staff members have some off time.  Egon the bartender attended a couple of whisky tours with us, albeit in his uniform.  Our waitress was mounted on one of the bikes and gave us a pretty smile as she passed. As someone who has worked in the service industry and witnessed how hard cruise ship employees work, I’m glad to see that Hebridean is fairly humane!

Later that evening, Bill and I went to the Tiree Lounge for a nightcap.  Philip, a Scotsman who had once worked on The Royal Scotsman luxury train and had even remembered a passenger on our cruise who had been on the train with him, asked me what I would like to drink.  I don’t know what got into me, but I asked for a Brandy Alexander.  I almost never drink Brandy Alexanders, though I do think they are tasty.  Based on the reaction I got from Philip and the rest of the crew, it’s not a drink that is commonly requested on Hebridean Princess.  But Philip was undaunted.  He studied the beverage and brought me one that was almost perfect!  I say almost because he didn’t have any nutmeg for the garnish and had to use chocolate instead (which is just fine with me!).  I said it was okay that it wasn’t perfect, since I am not that particular.  His response?  “But I am.”  Classic!

Philip shows other staffers how Brandy Alexanders are made!

Service with a smile!

It was a lovely after dinner drink.

A lovely walk back to the ship.

Scotland has a surprising number of palm trees.  Last time we cruised there, I heard it was due to its position on the jet stream.  I’m too lazy to Google it.

Sunday night, we had Hebridean’s awesome Sunday roast…

Good stuff.  This reminds me that I will need to make a Hebridean food porn posting after I’m finished writing up this trip.

Meals like this inspire Bill, my personal chef…


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