As my tour with West Highlands, Lochs & Castles Tour by Rabbie’s Tours reached Inveraray, I knew that I wanted to find a great place for lunch that just had great food. After taking some photos of Loch Fyne, I wandered up Main Street to see what I could find. Having a craving for fish and chips, I first sat down at Cafe Bella. But, soon I felt the vibe was off. Nothing against Cafe Bella, at all. After looking over the menu, I just wasn’t feeling it. So, I walked a bit up the street to The George Hotel. The tour guide, Robert, said that it was his favorite spot in Inveraray. As I’m always a fan of trusted recommendations (hence this website) I thought I’d give it a go.
When I walked in, it was like stepping back in time – but also forward in updated refinement. After a brief wait, I was seated in a cozy corner spot in The Cocktail Bar.
Browsing the menu, I knew immediately that I wanted the WHISKY FLIGHT alongside the HADDOCK AND CHIPS (breaded or battered, pea puree, tartare).
Now, first I should highlight the whisky flight from the menu (by Simon Smith of Whisky & Cynicism for The George Hotel Inveraray):
- GLEN MORAY 12 YEAR OLD – SPEYSIDE (ELGIN)
Speyside is home to more distilleries than anywhere else in Scotland, including Sotland’s biggest distilleries, some of its best known and some of its best liked. Glen Moray is a classic Speysider – fruity, with plenty of vanilla-like sweetness and a nice touch of oak influence. Glen Moray’s spirit is nuanced and gentle yet robust, standing up well to almost any type of cask. The 12 is a great jumping off point; if this is to your liking, we stock Glen Moray in a huge range of ages and casks – including sherries, wines and port.
- KINGSBARNS DREAM TO DRAM – LOWLAND (FIFE)
One of Scotland’s newest wave of distilleries (situated just near St Andrews), Kingsharns was the dream of a caddy working a nearby golf course, hence the name of this particular expression. Honouring the classic lowland style of fruity, floral whisky, Kingsbarns made an impact with this dram being complex yet imminently drinkable. A tiny amount of red wine casks – just ten percent in the mix – lends just enough complexity and depth to round out its lighter style.
- GLEN SCOTIA DOUBLE GASK – GAMBBELTOWN
Campbeltown has had a tumultuous distilling past. Once the Whisky Capital of Scotland, it is home now to just three distilleries – though fortunately one or two more are in the works. Glen Scotia, despite being one of the country’s smallest distilleries, has taken home a host of gongs recently; including Best Distillery and World’s Best Whisky during last years awards season. The Double Cask has everything you want from a Campbeltown whisky – some sweetness, some coastal salinity and just a little bit of that Campbeltown Funk whisky nerds love so much.
- ARRAN 10 YEAR OLD – ISLANDS
While The Islands aren’t technically a region – falling instead mainly into the Highlands – it is an easy way to section off these slighty different whiskies. Arran’s spirit is known for being tropical at its heart, with lots of bright summer fruits shining through. The 1 Year Old adds to this a sherry cask influence, bringing some richness and sweet spices that perfectly compliment Arran’s style. Arran have also long been known for their cask finishes, so if this hits the spot there are a few to move onto as well.
- ARDNAMURCHAN ‘AD’ – HIGHLANDS (WEST)
Another one new to the scene, Ardnamurchan comes from the peninsula of the same name; the most westerly point of the UK mainland.
Ardnamurchan’s house style – as reflected in this expression – is born of some clever in house blending. The distillery makes peated and unpeated spirit, which are mixed here in equal parts. On top of this, 65% of the spirit spends it’s maturation in ex-bourbon casks, the balance in ex-sherry casks. The result is a lightly peated single malt, with some robust highland characteristics and a honey sweetness.
- BUNNAHABHAIN ‘TOITEACH A DHA’ – ISLAY (NORTH)
Bunnahabhain, situated on the north coast of Islay, is one of the island’s most scenic distilleries, looking straight over the water to the Paps of Jura – in fact in the early days the distillery was only accessible by boat. Bunnahabhain produce both peated and unpeated spirit, and both are of great quality. The Toiteach (it. ‘Second Smoke’ and pronounced “Toy-check a Da) is a medium-heavily peated dram with an oily characteristic and lots of classic Islay smoke.
The tour of whiskies was simply brilliant. My favorite was the ‘Toiteach A Dha’ by Bunnahabhain Distillery. It’s a single malt Scotch whisky from Islay, Scotland. I enjoyed the smokiness of taste, the cultured craftwork I could taste – and that it was simply damn good.
The fish and chips could not compare to my outstanding version at Dirty Dick’s Pub in Edinburgh. But, they were still extremely good.
Overall, lunch at The Cocktail Bar at The George Hotel was exactly what I wanted – with the whisky that I wanted – as well.
The Cocktail Bar at The George Hotel
1 Main St East
Inveraray, Scotland PA32 8TT