He records a journey of two hours after passing the ruins of Aros Castle on the east coast of Mull but this is more likely the total journey time from Oban, the ruin standing two thirds along the way to Tobermory. He paraphrases here that Mull is “uneven and mountainous, but nevertheless the soil is deep and fertile, therefore better adapted for pasturage than Skye, to which island it bears great resemblance.” The original is similar except for the ending “to which island it otherwise bears a strong resemblance”, neither of which I find particularly convincing having driven extensively on both. Perhaps I need to see more of them from the sea?
|Flood basalt layers create the terraced summit of Bearraich on the west coast of Mull|
He next mentions the area called Drumfin to the left of Tobermory, better known as “St Mary’s Lake”, again taken from Anderson, although he changes the words ‘mansion-house’ here to “Drumfin Castle”. The house had in fact been renamed to Aros House around the 1840s (since demolished in the 1960s). Barnard’s copy of Anderson’s Guide appears to be either an old edition (first published in 1834, three years before he was born) or is a more recent edition that has not been updated (link above is to 1850 edition). Either way we now need to take care with some of his descriptions of scenery and location, much of which he likely never visited.
|Tobermory with distillery on left|
|Western Isles Hotel, Tobermory|
|Ledaig end of harbour with Calve island on left|
|Distillery sign, painted by Mashman and artist Stewart O'Donnell|
|Still House from town approach road|
Two water wheels once stood behind the distillery and were powered by the river, one for grinding and mashing and one to power the switchers and rummagers. These are now gone and the warehouses on the opposite side of the river have been converted into flats. The whisky produced here is now matured at Deanston in Doune, the distillery there also owned by Burn Stewart Distillers (as well as Bunnahabhain on Islay) although a small warehouse behind the distillery is still used. Producing 62,000 gallons (282,000 litres) of “pure Highland Malt called “Mull Whisky” in 1885, the distillery now has a capacity of 1m litres p.a.
|Warehouses opposite distillery now converted to flats|
At the end of last year all the single malts in the Burn Stewart range were changed to un-chillfiltered and are now bottled at 46.3%, a welcome change for us whisky enthusiasts. I mentioned the improvement in the new version of the Bunnahabhain 12yo at Whisky Fringe last summer and I now need to hunt down the new version of that peaty Ledaig to see how it has changed. The oldest whisky in the warehouse is 38yo from that 1972 restart, so perhaps a 40yo bottling to look forward to next year.