By the Whisky Couple

I like water, especially the Water of Life, but I also do 40-50 laps, three times a week, in a lap-pool to keep fit — after all, I do have a sitting job and need the exercise.

Becky and I can also be seen on a boat or ship in Charleston harbor and its direct maritime surroundings sometimes. In previous years in Europe we enjoyed a sailing trip on the Thalassa, a three-master of Dutch origin, which took us around the southern part of Scotland (Kintyre, Arran and the Isle of Islay), a journey we duly reported in the Charleston Mercury Magazine. Last year we joined a group of 20-odd whisky aficionados on the somewhat smaller Flying Dutchman as their host and sailed the Caledonian Canal, starting in Oban, with a detour to Tobermory and Ardnamurchan, then heading for Fort William, where we entered the canal, crossed various lochs among which the notorious Loch Ness, to end in Inverness harbor after eight days.

Those were enjoyable trips, notwithstanding the close quarters, chilly weather and minimal privacy we had to endure. But Becky is a brave soul and did not complain. I just poured her an extra wee dram once in a while, to keep her warm and happy.

Next year, however, we are going to do it differently, entirely differently. We’ve teamed up with a wonderful company in Toronto, Canada, who approached us when one of their travel experts picked up a copy of A Field Guide to Whisky. In May of this year she wrote to us, asking if we would be interested to organize a luxury whisky cruise in 2018, skirting the British Isles. As it happened, a month later we were in Upstate New York visiting relatives and found ourselves meeting said lady and her colleague halfway, in Syracuse — home to Becky’s father’s alma mater (and yes, we did bring home a tee-shirt for his only grandson!)

Following a lengthy exchange of ideas over an excellent lunch in an otherwise empty hip brasserie, we agreed to team up with Tully Luxury Travel, whom this year celebrate their 30th year of operation and specialize in unique experiences within the luxury sphere. Together with their long-standing partner, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, known for their exquisite ships, together we will sail the Seven Seas Explorer, Regent’s newest and finest ship, launched in 2016. Our 300-square foot cabin, will boast a private balcony — a far (but very attractive) cry from the cozy but slightly damp cabin that previously offered us shelter during those cold and clammy October nights on Scotland’s lochs.

We were appointed the honorable task of setting up a program that the true whisky aficionado couldn’t resist. Following a number of calls to our extensive whisky industry network in Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales, we found our contacts to be equally as excited as us. By September of this year, together with the formidable team at Tully Luxury Travel, we had concluded our dream itinerary, replete with numerous excursions on shore as well as master classes on the ship whilst at sea.

Arriving in London on May 30, 2018, you will be transferred to your luxury hotel in central London where your whisky experience begins. Enjoy a private lunch at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS), a prestigious club in Great Britain’s capital. Following lunch, relax as you sample some of the finest whisky’s the club has to offer before journeying to the Seven Seas Explorer, docked in Southampton. Journeying north, we dock in Edinburgh on June 2, visiting Edinburgh Castle and continuing to the SMWS in the heart of Georgian Edinburgh for a five-course lunch, accompanied by three drams. On route back to the luxury ship, we call at the headquarters of the SMWS in the old harbor of Leith for a three-dram whisky tasting. Making our way further north, we call in Invergordon on June 3, visiting Glenmorangie and Balblair distilleries. As we sail along the north coast of Scotland, you will be entertained by us with whisky stories and tastings on board.

On June 5 the Seven Seas Explorer will moor in Belfast from where you will be transferred to the Giant’s Causeway and Bushmills Distillery, the oldest of its kind in Northern Ireland. No visit to Bushmills would be complete without experiencing a pub lunch and your very own whisky tasting.

On June 6, we will visit the Isle of Man, proudly situated in the Irish Sea between the Republic of Ireland and the UK. The next day you may make a dash to Liverpool to take a peek at the Fab Four Museum. Then it is time for another acquaintance with the water of life when we moor in Holyhead, Wales on June 8. We will journey to the charming town of Conwy, in the shadows of Conwy Castle. A Blue Badge Guide will show us the highlights of the city, before we dine under the walls of Conwy Castle and enjoy a tasting hosted by Penderyn Distillery. Following a wander around the town, we journey back to ship before sailing to our next destination.

On June 9 we visit Teeling Distillery in Dublin, where a tasting lead by the distillery will be accompanied by lunch at a famed Dublin pub. The next day, there will be another stop in Ireland in the charming town of Waterford, before we set sail for Portland (UK — not Oregon or Rhode Island!). Our final port of call will be London, on June 12, were our journey ends.

Appealing, isn’t it? The life of a Whisky Couple is hard. If you want to know more about this cruise, or would like to watch a film about the incredible Seven Seas Explorer, surf, not sail over to tinyurl.com/y7j9zp4t — where you can find much more information as well as pricing. The number of participants is limited, only 40 people can join this once-in-a-lifetime program.

We’d be delighted to see some Southern friends and acquaintances on deck next year!

 

Slante mhath,

Your very own Whisky Couple

 

Mercury newspaper racks are located at the following locations:

The Meeting Street Inn

Clair's Service Station at 334 Folly Rd.

Harris Teeter on Houston-Northcutt Blvd.

The Square Onion in I'On

Mt. Pleasant Library on Mathis Ferry Rd.