Glasgow (Glengoyne distillery)
Inverness (Glenmorangie distillery)
Aberlour (Glenfiddich distillery) - the Spring whisky festival was going on while we were there, so we spent a good deal of time in Dufftown participating in events.
Aberdeen - only long enough to catch the ferry to Orkney
Kirkwall (Highland Park distillery)
Port Ellen (Laphroaig, Lagavulin, and Ardbeg distilleries)
Bowmore (Bruichladdich, Kilchoman, Coal Ila, and Bowmore distilleries)
Campbelltown (Springbank and Glengyle distilleries)
I picked a large number of small bottles ranging from 5 to 20 cl. I also picked up a few big bottles.
The Whisky Shop's private Glenfarclas selection - 9 years old but tastes much more mature
Valinch selection at Bruichladdich distillery
We spared no expense for the distillery tours, when available, and that turned out to be a great decision. We stood on top of wet malt in the malt kiln at Bowmore distillery for a good 20 minutes while the malt was being dried. My clothes from that day smelled like peat for the next week. Ardbeg's tour saw us try samples of Ardbeg Kildalton. Laphroaig's Water to Whisky tour was stunning. Highland Park's tour was also impressive. My wife decided she likes the Laphroaig Cairdeas 30 year old and the Highland Park 40 year old the best. I'm not sure whether I should be thrilled or dismayed at that.
We toured Springbank while their whisky school was in full swing. I definitely must experience that myself while Springbank still puts it on.
For the Islay portion, I'm glad we stayed for 5 days and were there the week before Feis Ile. Being there for the festival would have been too much for our first visit. We're thinking our first Feis Ile will be in 2014. We may even hire a car for our next trip; driving on the opposite side of the road doesn't seem as daunting as I imagined it to be.
I thought I knew and understood whisky before this trip. Boy, were my eyes opened. You can know all of the facts about production and aging and you can even have enjoyed nearly every whisky available. However, until you immerse yourself in Scotland and its people, I don't think you can truly appreciate whisky as its meant to be.