There were two things that we hoped to do in Loch Ewe. One was to visit the gardens at Inverewe, and the other was to find Loch Ewe distillery.

We found the distillery first, just up the hill from where we'd anchored. Although it was the second hill we'd walked up when looking for it. As we arrived John the proprietor was just putting out the Open sign which answered our first question as to was it possible to visit, especially on a Sunday? He told us that a visit would be £5 each - which had we no inkling of what was inside could have appeared a bit steep to look inside a shed. Indeed a few minutes later a party of (I think German) visitors arrived having bicycled up the hill. On being told that the visit would be £5 they decided to go on their way.

We therefore had the tour to ourselves, and the best part of 2 hours of John's time going over the history of whisky making, the background to the distillery, tasting his whisky etc. It was quite unique and I think extremely good value.

So what's unique about it? Its basically a legal, illicit still. John's story is that he found a loophole in the legislation - since closed - that has allowed him to set up a still as a replica of the old illicit stills as used in the 17th and 18th centuries. This is far smaller than the current minimum size allowed - which is the point of the loophole he exploited. His bonded warehouse - complete with customs and excise notice - is the back part of the shed with about 6 barrels that are less than knee height. That's it. Because the stills are small - about the size of a small dustbin - the spirit produced is very different from the new make from large stills. He's also experimented with flavouring small barrels and the maturation time in them is measured in weeks rather than years. It can't therefore be called Whisky, for which a minimum of 3 years is required, but it is the same ingredients and process running on an accelerated timescale and makes a very good approximation of whisky - with a lot more room for experimentation which I think is an area John loves.

Sadly, after spending so long there we didn't have time to also visit the gardens, which are at the head of the Loch so we'd have needed to sail up there and re-anchor. We wanted to get to Ullapool today so that I can get the bus to Inverness and train to London tomorrow.

In Ullapool we picked up the closest visitor mooring buoy to the dock. That was also the only one without a pickup strop which made it harder. Especially when we'll be somewhere overnight - and even more so here as we'll be here for several nights with strong winds forecast - we've been using a mooring line I made by splicing some octoplait warp (rope) to each end of 2m of 10mm anchor chain. That means we are tying warps to the boat, but have chain on the mooring buoy which avoids the warp chaffing. We also added a safety line - just in case my splicing isn't as good as splicing should be...

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    Loch Ewe Distillery
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