Via: Balblair distillery, Cromarty
Distance: 84 miles
As today is a short days ride Alisa got up early and went for a jog and I had an extra half an hour in bed. Though it had rained in the night it was dry and sunny when we got on the bikes. We've been joking each day that our run of Scottish sunshine luck just can't hold, but we cross our fingers each time that it will. Our first stop of the day was at Tain where we went to see Storm Glassworks, a contemporary glass workshop and gallery. We purchased a small piece which will be posted on in a few days time. With three bottles of whisky on the bikes we are already taking a little bit of a risk.
After Tain it was just a couple of miles down the road to check out the Glenmorangie visitors centre and shop. We didn't tour the distillery as it seems very commercial (plus we already have a bottle at home). We did however, manage to get booked into the Balblair distillery tour. So after 30 minutes looking around at Glenmorangie we got back on the bikes for a ten mile ride to Balblair.
The Balblair car park was pretty much empty when we arrived at eleven a.m. It turns out that the season is just starting and there was only one other person on the tour with us. The distillery is one of Scotland's oldest, founded in 1790.
The Distillery takes a different tack when it comes to it's whiskies. They don't provide an age statement, but bottle the whisky when it's at it's peak, so their bottles just show the year that the casks were laid down. They call this a 'Vintage' method.
The tour was great fun, the guides took their time to explain everything and we got to see each of the stages of the process and also walk through the storage sheds. At the end of the tour their was a tasting, but we skipped this as we were riding. So we headed to the shop. I'd been after a bottle of their 1989, but this had all gone, so we ended up buying a bottle of single cask single malt from 2000 which Alisa got to bottle herself. That's four bottles in the top box now...fingers crossed that they will all get home safely.
After Balblair it was back on the bikes for a 30 mile ride to Cromarty. A place name I'd only before known from the shipping forecast. The road into Cromarty skirts the firth and gives a good view of the industrial nature of the area, with several oil rigs and a number of ships close to the coast. Cromarty itself is a little picture postcard village, much like Dornoch, full of antique and tea shops. We ate well on haddock and langoustines.
It was then a fairly short and swift ride to Inverness. As we got closer to the city, the traffic began to build up, and by the time we got into the city itself, it was rush hour. It made me realise that tomorrow is likely to be the last real empty road riding for this trip... We'll need to think about a nice route home from Scotland...there must be some quiet roads to be had going south. Finally in the bright and rather warm late afternoon sunshine we filled up the bikes ready for tomorrow and pulled into a Premier Inn on the A82 on the outskirts of Inverness. We will take this road all the way back to Glasgow tomorrow. A refresher in the bar, a walk into town and dinner at Aspendos Turkish restaurant, (it's nice to get away from pub food) and then a mile or two's walk back to work off dinner before drafting this blog post of the day. We're looking forward to good roads tomorrow and a full day of rest in Glasgow before the final leg home to London.