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Batch Strength Tour Update 4: The Last Leg

June 10, 2024

It’s official, we’ve made it back to Islay with our trusty pick-up, without incident this year, and happy to have made it back in time for Fèis Ìle!

The last leg of our European tour took us through the Netherlands, Belgium, England, Ireland and finally Scotland. It amounts to a total of 20 countries travelled in just over 2 months and it has been an absolute blast from start to finish. We’d like to thank you all for coming out to support us and hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

James was joined by myself in Rotterdam for the Dutch part of the tour where we were able to showcase the Batch Strength in an array of beautiful venues, as well as some rare single casks. To top this off, the sun was shining bright and we were able to show off our tour t-shirts again (after a slightly chilly trip through Scandinavia)!

This leg took us through Rotterdam, Nijmegen, Pijnacker and finally Sluis where Peter took over from James and continued the escapades into Belgium with me.

The first stop in Belgium was Antwerp where we hosted a lovely evening masterclass and also a barrel-top tasting during the day.

We then headed to Angleur, stopping at two different shops along the way, welcomed by both new and familiar faces. At the evening masterclass, we were able to sharpen our French skills and finally indulge in some world-famous Belgium fries… they did not disappoint!

The following day, we were kept busy with three stops on our route to Mechelen, seeing a plethora of Kilchoman lovers at every pit-stop, even at 11am mid-week… Who doesn’t like ‘cereals’ for breakfast?

Peter then switched places with Catherine who finished the Belgium leg with me.

We drove through to Zottegem for a relaxed afternoon tasting and finished the day’s drive in Heule for another evening event. For our last day in Belgium, we headed towards Heuvelland for a full day of whisky shenanigans, starting with an afternoon sampling session with over 20 different Kilchoman releases, a unique chance to try some of our historical releases that was greatly appreciated by the crowd and also myself…

To finish our Belgian stint with a bang, we hosted an in-depth masterclass comparing the impact of full maturation vs finishes and 1st fill vs 2nd. It was then time to pass the torch to Emma and George after ducking back under the Channel to continue the tour.

Ken

Emma and I met up with Catherine and Ken at Gatwick Airport for a quick debrief before the tour continued.

The UK and Ireland leg of the tour took us south to Brighton before heading west to Bath. Thanks to The Whisky Shops for putting on great events. We also had a first for the tour… A parking ticket! I am just surprised we managed to avoid one until the final week.

Next stop was Manchester, and it soon came apparent that the traffic in England was some of the worst we had experienced, but it was nice to be driving on the right (left) side of the road.

Wednesday morning started a little earlier than planned with a ferry cancellation resulting in a 5.45am dash to catch the first boat to Dublin. It was not all bad as we were greeted in Dublin with a nice pint of Guinness on a rare night off. The next day was spent at the Celtic Whisk(e)y Shop and then a fun filled evening in the Flowing Tide Pub for an evening tasting.

KWM Wines in Kilkeel, Northern Ireland, was next on the list. An amazing shop that had a wide selection of Kilchoman on offer. The crowd that evening included many Kilchoman first timers who enjoyed an informal tasting in the shop.

It was a slightly more sociable hour for our ferry back to Scotland and a visit to our friends at Robbie’s Drams in Ayr. A great way to kick off the Scottish leg, a packed 11am tasting. The final few days of the tour were spent in Glasgow, Edinburgh and then Inverary, before George and the pick up made it back to the distillery (without picking up any more parking tickets). It was nice to finish this year’s tour in the same vehicle we started in for once!

Thank you to all the shops, bars and distributors that welcomed us all and made sure that our Batch Strength European Tour was a huge success.

George

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