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Classic Malts Cruise

Listed under Sailing in Scotland, United Kingdom.

  • Photo of Classic Malts Cruise
  • Photo of Classic Malts Cruise
  • Photo of Classic Malts Cruise
  • Photo of Classic Malts Cruise
  • Photo of Classic Malts Cruise
  • Photo of Classic Malts Cruise
  • Photo of Classic Malts Cruise
  • Photo of Classic Malts Cruise
Photo of Classic Malts Cruise
Photo by flickr user Brian Forbes
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Anyone who has sailed Scotland's coastline will understand the contentedness of a well-earned dram at the end of a rewarding day's cruising. So many people in fact that the Classic Malts Cruise is now the UK's biggest cruising event. Combining spectacular West coast sailing with the celebration of some of the Scotland's finest whiskeys rouses the senses and explores much more than any driving trip could ever hope to do.

The cruise is a two week tour taking in 200 miles of sailing in the Inner Hebrides, where participants are free to explore at their leisure any route amongst the Isles, taking in its breathtaking scenery and wildlife, between whiskey tasting sessions, tours and ceilidhs at the local distilleries in the evening. Cruisers meet to register at Oban distillery before dinner and then are followed down to their moorings for the night by a local pipe band. A small coastal town, Oban is known as the “Gateway to the Isles”, and fine single malts have been made there for over 200 years. The distillery is one of the oldest licensed distilleries and still amongst the smallest. The next meeting is at Talisker where there is a ceilidh in the evening after tasting sessions.

On the way, sailing can be a leisurely as you like, with boundless scenery to absorb such as Kinloch castle at rum, and Iona's Abbey. Most who have been on the cruise have marvelled at the close-up view of wildlife from their yachts with regular sightings of eagles, puffins, gannets, dolphins and sometimes whales.

The last distillery visit is at Lagavulin which hosts the final party and farewell. Entry into the bay can be challenging and sailors should check the current charts and relevant volumes of Clyde Cruising Club Sailing Directions. The route through the Inner Hebrides can have very tight anchorages so is not well suited for very large yachts, most vessels taking part in the event tend to be 30 to 45 feet.

The sailing conditions are sometimes tough (the largest and most dangerous whirlpool in European waters is found at Corrievrecken) and novices should look up local skippers for the journey to help them through the currents and swells. However the weather is often surprisingly sunny and pleasant in this part of the world in the summer, with brisk breezes. Remembering to check the local changeable weather conditions is most important.

The Classic Malts Cruise started in 1994 with 25 boats and now usually hosts 100. With plenty of foreign entries from places such as the USA and Scandinavia, as well as the sea air and Scottish coastline, those who have been on the cruise will likely remember the friends they made every time they open a bottle of Scottish Single Malt.

Written by  Jane Ferguson.

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