We wake up and leisurely enjoy our coffee and the stunning view of the Scottish hills in our hosts backyard. We are here for 1 more night so today is dedicated to Inverness and the surrounding areas.
We decide to head straight for the thing that put Inverness on the map: Loch Ness. A short drive down another single lane street with 2 way traffic had us in the little town of Forres which has a stunning view of Loch Ness length wise. We took a look for Nessy but didn’t see her. She’s probably under the water.
In Inverness, there is a Titanic museum. Now I am using the term “museum” very loosely here. It is basically a house that has been dedicated to a bunch of newspaper articles about the titanic. With “fun facts” on the walls, this is more of a cluttered mess than a museum. I don’t mean to be discouraging towards this guy who clearly put a bunch of time into this, but it needs to be cleaned up, re-organized and done up again.
This place had a lot of potential to be cool, but since Kristi and I were the only ones here, it came off as more creepy than anything.
We have officially earned our next stop. Tomatin Distillery. For £8 we get a tour of the distillery and a tasting at the end.
Learning about Scotch.. sorry. I mean whisky… is awesome. The distillery built houses down the road for employees and about 80% of their staff live on site. This was originally done as a security measure in case someone wanted to rob the distillery. The only road out housed 30 families who had invested interests in what you’re stealing.
Lets skip through the boring details and get to the fun stuff. The barrel stage is where a whisky develops its flavor. Whisky needs to be in a barrel for a minimum of 3 years in order to call it Scotch. They will age it in different types of barrels depending on what flavors they want to bring out. Port, bourbon and sherry barrels are just a few popular options.
Sometimes you will notice the whisky has a smokey flavor. This has to do with the peat burned during the malting process. Tomatin does have one “peaty” whisky called Cù Bòcan which is named after a wolf that haunts the hills near the distillery. I didn’t care for the whisky but I loved the logo.
At the end of the tour, we get to do some tasting. Because I was driving, they don’t allow me to taste but they do offer me a miniature bottle of the 12 year to take with me and drink when it’s safe. Naturally I made the joke that it was for the drive back to Inverness.
Kristi started talking to another guy working at the distillery who was super excited to tell us what to check out. So naturally we took his advice.
First we stopped at a little pub where the food was great and you were able to order a half portion. This was great news because food is expensive out here so we were able to eat for £8 each instead of £14 each.
From here we went to Clava Cairns which is a historic burial site dating back 3000-4000 years. You may recognize them from Outlander. I haven’t seen Outlander so I don’t actually know but I hear they’re in it.
We were told we could check out the Culloden battle field for free if we simply just don’t go inside the tourism office and walk on to the field. I love when locals give good tips. We didn’t stick around long though simply because the weather turned and though the rain was light, the wind cut right through us. It takes 30ish minutes to walk around the field with landmarks and facts all over. The only tidbit of info I remember was that it was the final battle for the Jacobites who were crushed by Loyalist troops led by the Duke of Cumberland. It was estimated 1500-2000 Jacobite troops were killed while only 300ish government soldiers died.
Our final stop for the day was the Black Isle Brewery just north of Inverness. They offer free brewery tours and we were told to ask for Andy Hodge to do our tour. “Tell him Charlie from Tomatin says Andy gives the best tours.”
When Andy came out, he was super confused as to why a couple of Canadians were asking him by name. When we told him, his face lit up, “Charlie Hume? He’s a great f&*%ing chap” Charlie did warn us that And isn’t very PC.
They were extremely busy getting beers ready for the Highland Games at Gordon Castle this weekend so Andy apologized for how rushed things were. All of their beers here are organic and as we finished up, Andy made sure we grabbed a couple from the fridge to try.
One of the cool things about the Black Isle Brewery is they have a field full of black sheep. Naturally, Kristi insisted on trying to feed the baby.
After this long day, we were happy to head back to our place and take in that view. Our host came home a couple hours later and we thanked him for trusting us to use his place while he was at work. After sitting around chatting with him, we realized that it would have been awesome to spend more time with him. He was educated, funny, and had a great personality. When we woke up the next morning, he was gone already so we locked up and put the key back where we found it.
The kindness and hospitality of strangers has truly made this trip something special.