The Isle of Jura (Part 1)
Who says posting on Facebook is a waste of time? Well for a few lucky folk earlier this year, doing just that won them a two-night stay at the Jura Lodge in the grounds of the Jura Distillery. I was one of those lucky folk. Yeehaa!
The Jura Lodge was once home to both the Distillery Manager and the Distillery Excise Officer. That must have been interesting. Anyway, an appropriately named designer called Bambi (the island is home to over ten times more deer than humans) was given carte blanche to turn the two floors of this building into unusual and creative self-catering accommodation. There are a lot of bits of deer in the house: hooves, fur, antlers, more antlers, even more antlers…and a variety of little deer statues and things shaped like deer heads. Deer, deer, deer. And the cost of a night’s stay? Dear! (Sorry). £300 a night.
I dropped my partner and baby off on the Isle of Bute last Sunday with her parents and got up early on Monday to get the top ferry back to the mainland and then on up to Inveraray to pick up my travelling companion and fellow malt consumer Peter. He will be henceforth known as The Devourer of All Cheese. No, that’s too much to type so back to Peter. Peter and I had a quick look round Loch Fyne Whiskies (Peter bought the new cask-strength Springbank) and then off we headed for the ferry terminal at Kennacraig to take us to Port Askaig on Islay. Without sounding too much like Iain Banks in Raw Spirit, these are great roads to drive where driving is an absolute pleasure; little traffic, lovely winding roads that snake around sea lochs and fantastic scenery (but don’t look too long at the scenery when driving).
A 30-minute delay at Kennacraig (rope caught round the propellor which meant divers had to be called in) and we were off. Next stop Islay.
On reaching Port Askaig we discovered that we’d missed the connecting ferry to Jura due to the late running and so had to wait for the next one. Nothing to do in Port Askaig but sit in the car and wait, knowing that Caol Ila was a few minutes drive away. Torture!
Eventually we were on the wee boat to Jura and within 5 minutes we were whizzing our way round the single track road to Craighouse, the biggest settlement on Jura where the distillery lies.
In the above picture you can see the Lodge in the top right. The top floor with the bay window has two sitting/living rooms and the kitchen. The floor below contains four bedrooms. All the rooms have a different theme whilst maintaining the overall feel of a madhouse. A classy madhouse.
Once inside we met our fellow Lodgers for the next two days: Keith and his nephew Ryan. Ryan was also a Facebook winner and being unable to drive he took his malt-loving uncle along. Seems a fair deal to me. Then we picked our rooms and settled in, finding our way around the place and where everything was. And just being nosy. Well, there’s a lot to look at in there, trust me. Some museums don’t have half as many items.
Craighouse has a distillery, the store and the hotel. That’s about it, really. Our location for dinner was easily chosen – to the hotel! Er, no…the hotel bar opens at 7pm during the winter so dinner had to wait a couple of hours. Beers in the Lodge then!
After eventually getting into the Jura Hotel, devouring a venison burger (makes sense to use what is readily available), drinking pints and drams and playing several frames of pool, we then had a few nightcaps back at the Lodge with cheese (more details on why Peter got his previous name later, but it starts here) and hit the sack.
Day two and our tour of the distillery to follow.