Our incentives team was asked to host and escort two incentive competition winners around some of the western Scottish islands. A challenge Katie took on with gusto!
The two winners had been selected from an in-store competition and the prize was truly the trip of a lifetime; it was hosted at each of the Distell whisky distilleries situated on some of the most beautiful and remote islands in Scotland.
Upon arrival at Glasgow, we took a 2-hour drive through the spectacular countryside of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park area towards Oban. We stopped off at the Balloch House Gastro Pub for a hearty – and most welcome – Sunday luncheon before continuing our drive.
Then we were off on a ferry cruise in the late afternoon over to the Isle of Mull. Callmac Ferries operate services on a casually comfortable ferry, which takes 45 minutes from the mainland to Craignure.
It was a cold, blustery afternoon, with incredible scenery all-round. Then Mull Taxis provided the transfer to Tobermory along with interesting information about the island, what it has to offer and its whisky history.
White sandy beaches, a clear blue sea, and picturesque towns are just some of the scenic options available. The biggest town on the Isle of Mull is Tobermory. With its brightly painted buildings it’s regarded as the prettiest town in the Hebrides archipelago. The town is home to 10.000 people, which is a third of the island’s total population.
Mull is also home to the rare White-Tailed Sea Eagle and the Bald Eagle, although dolphins, whales and basking sharks are regularly spotted in the waters around the island.
Now it was time to taste some whisky!
Our first stop on the island was a visit to the Tobermory Whisky Distillery, which has been distilling since 1798. It was such a treat! The staff ensured that our winners were treated like VIP guests with a personal visit into the barrel room and a tasting directly from the vats. This incredible experience was led by a local, Alan, who had many a tale to tell and a song to sing, imbuing his love of the “wee dram” to our winners.
Seafood, seafood and then more seafood! I tasted – without any doubt – the freshest seafood that I have personally ever come across. The fish is caught locally off the islands so it’s sustainable and the wide selection available ensured that we’d want for nothing else. Just take a look at this incredible seafood platter that welcomed us on our visit to Islay – yet another beautiful island that’s located just 30 minutes by flight from Glasgow.
Islay is home to 9 incredible whisky distilleries!
But the purpose of our visit was the Distell-owned Bunnahabhain Distillery. Operational since 1881 and meaning “foot of the river” the distillery was built to include homes for the villagers who worked there. The viewpoint and access to seawater and spray here creates the unique flavor for these incredible whiskys. Bunnahabhain Bay’s setting is amazing; looking out over the Sound of Islay and Jura (a narrow strait between the islands) is a tranquil experience.
Our final stop on the visit was the cosmopolitan town of Glasgow where the nightlife abounds! The city is experiencing a revival and Deanston Distillery is a short drive away from the city. Originally built as a cotton mill on the banks of the River Teith, it became so successful that the entire village was built around it.
Eventually opening as a distillery in 1974, this is the youngest of the Distell distilleries. We learnt about the history of this venue along with a visit to the local canteen where local Scottish produce can be enjoyed such as neeps & tatties – a traditional meal of turnips, potatoes and spiced haggis!
Glasgow offers a wide variety of dining options from local cafes and restaurants to upmarket gastro-pubs. The nightlife is also a standout! Just ask our winners… they crawled back to the hotel an hour before their flight on departure morning…
Altogether it was a successful incentive trip and a journey outside of a normal holiday experience! Are you thinking of Scotland for your next incentive travel destination? Drop us a message.
Written by: Katie Keane