“Today’s rain is tomorrow’s whisky. ” – not a Chinese proverb
The forecast has been calling for rain, and today it finally came, although so far still not in massive quantities. Just showers here, really, but a solid break from the weather Ive had for most of this trip. More is coming overnight, I’m told. With luck, the worst will be past by morning.
I had already decided to take a break from riding today. I’d booked a tour of the Glenmorangie distillery, and looked up the best way to get there without driving. The bus looked pretty straightforward, even if it was a long trip, so I walked down to the bus station for 9. The intertubes had suggested a cost of between £4 and £6, but it turns out it costs £10.50, which isn’t really all that outrageous for an inter urban trip.
The trip required two transfers, and I made the first one fine. Unfortunately I missed the second one, although I discovered it only covered a distance of about a kilometre. No biggy, I could add that to the 1.3 km I was going to have to walk anyway. I still had just enough time to get there for the start of my tour.
I discovered that just over half the distance was along the side of the A9, part of which I’d ridden on the day before. Yesterday’s bit was mostly dual carriageway, with no place for pedestrians. I assumed it would be similar here, so I called a taxi. She came in under two minutes, and I was at the distillery in about five minutes afterwards. I noted on the way that there was a gravel footpath along the side of the road, which was an ordinary two-lane road with sparse traffic. I could have saved the fiver and walked easily enough, but who knew?
The tour itself was an excellent walk through of the process of whisky making, and its many attendant aromas, not all of them pleasant. The height of the stills was astonishing. Nearly 17 feet!
Glenmorangie (and their sister distillery on Islay, Ardbegh) is owned by Louis Vuitton. Yup, that one. The ugly handbag company owns two of the world’s best whiskies. They’ve got an orange Cadillac with a snakeskin roof as a result.
I met a retired couple from Cowichan Bay, and we talked a little about whiskies, and about home, and our respective holidays. They’ve been all over Scotland, as far north as the Orkneys, and will be heading south in a few days time to visit family in Yorkshire. They were a lovely couple, and were kind enough to offer me a ride back to Tain, where I was planning to catch a train back to Inverness (as there were no buses until after 4). Since it had begun raining, I accepted their offer.
I’d read that it’s better to by Scotrail tickets online, so I did, and provided my email address as prompted, they said, so they could send me ticket. Then I went for lunch at a cafe at the station, since I had over an hour to kill before my train. While I was eating I received an email from Scotrail confirming my ticket purchase, but not my ticket. I could use the redemption code, the email said, at the self-serve kiosk. Except none such are to be found at the Tain station. “But your ticket on the train” a relatively small sign on the platform unhelpfully suggested. Whatever. I explained the situation to the conductor when the train finally arrived, and he just shrugged. “Show them that email in the station so they’ll let you out.” Good advice.
While I was a still waiting for the train, a lone Japanese tourist joined me on the platform. He saw the bag with the Quinta Ruban I’d purchased and asked in broken English (but far less broken, I assured him, than my extremely limited Japanese) if I’d done the tour. I said I had, and said he had, too, but he hadn’t bought anything. We exchanged as many more pleasantries as we could without me saying, “hello goodbye thanks delicious,” which aside from menu items is about all I can say in Japanese.
I was regretting not coming on the bike. It was raining a little harder now, but still just lightly, really. Tomorrow. I have time to kill between checking out of my B&B here and into my hotel in Elgin. There just happen to be a number of distilleries on the way. Sort of. I could stop in and see who’s got a tour.
Right now, I’m sitting in what I’ve decided, in my extremely limited survey, is the best pub in Inverness, the Number 27. I had an excellent pork chop for dinner, with potatoes and gravy, wilted spinach, carrots and turnips that didn’t suck. Who knew such a thing existed?
Soon I’ll head back and start arranging my packing. Again. I should have it all figured out by the time I bring the bike back. But that can wait a little longer, I think.