Sunday, 18 November 2018

The Famous Grouse Experience - The Perfect Day at Glenturett Distillery

Pretty much everyone has bottle of Famous Grouse in their house somewhere, it's iconic to Scottish Whisky and has been the best selling blend for over 40 years. But why? Well it's probably something to do with the fact it contains a selection of whisky from the likes of Highland Park, Macallan, Glenrothes and Glenturret in the blend. So when Jess and I were invited to The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery we couldn't wait to spend the day finding out all about this famous dram.

The Perfect day at The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery
(The Blending Experience)
The Famous Grouse Experience was set up to give people an understanding of how one of the single malts that goes into the blend is created and find out first hand from the distillery the story of where this drink came from, plus of course to sample ample amounts of the good stuff.

Video

If reading isn't your thing then why not check out how we got on during our perfect day at the Famous Grouse Experience in our 5 minute vlog.


The Famous Grouse Experience 

The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery

The Famous Grouse Experience is currently located at the Glenturret Distillery in Crieff (Perthshire) and can be accessed via bus from Perth or Stirling (on the number 15 or 15A). We travelled from Glasgow on a Sunday and although there was semi-frequent public transport it was a bit of a mission to get home after a day drinking whisky, probably best to stay in Crieff to save the long stagger back if you can. If you are driving it is around 35 minutes from Perth or an hour from Glasgow, if you do drive then the distillery offer take away samples to ensure you don't miss out during the tour.

The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery
(Glenturret Single Malt & Famous Grouse)
The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery

The Experiences & Tours

There is a raft of experiences matching every budget, from a quick tour to a full day working with the distillery hands on. We opted for the "Perfect Day" experience which not only had a tour of the distillery but tastings of the single malt, cocktail's, lunch and a blending master class at the end.

Click here to find out what experiences are on offer.

The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery

The Perfect Day Experience

First up was a tour of the Glenturret Distillery, they have been distilling alcohol (legal) since 1775 (they had a little illegal bootlegging business going on before that) and not a huge amount has changed since then. Being a relatively small distillery means they have managed to keep things quite unchanged through the years utilising very little automation throughout the distillery and instead relying on manual labour and traditional methods. For example the wort tub (that's when they mix the grain and hot water) is tiny and mixed by hand, whereas most distilleries have huge tub's with self mixing arms and automated systems to control their every move. 

The tour of the distillery is well set out and gives you a really good overview of how they produce a single malt whisky, with a selection of casks to nose at the end you can get a smell of each to see exactly what difference each cask can give to a whisky.

The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery
The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery
The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery tour
The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery tour
The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery tour

Although Glenturet Single Malt makes up a small fraction of the blend in Famous Grouse it accounts for around 90% of the distillers output. The remaining 10% is sold as a single malt but only within the gift shop, you wont see this for sale anywhere else. 

Once the tour concludes there is a modern tasting room where you can try some samples of Famous Grouse and the single malt produced at the distillery.

tasting bar at The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery
(Tasting Bar)
Since we were on the the Perfect Day Experience we headed to the bar to sample some of what Glenturret produce, after getting comfortable our guide produced a sample stick of 4 drams, each one a little different from the last. 
  • Glenturret 10 year old 
  • Glenturret distillery cask strength (14yr old Sherry Cask)
  • Glenturret 30 year old 
  • Glenturret Peated 

the bar at The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery
(Main bar and lounge)
whisky stick, The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery
(Whisky tasting)
whisky tasting, The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery
(Whisky tasting at the bar)
whisky tasting, The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery

Out of these, I have to say that the Glenturret Distillery Cask was the best, being a first fill sherry cask at around 14 years old gave this whisky a real rich taste. 

Next up on the "Perfect Day" Experience was a Famous Grouse whisky cocktail, packed with a healthy measure of Grouse, pineapple juice, mint and some Ginger Ale it was the perfect aperitif.

whisky cocktail, The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery
(Famous Grouse cocktail)
Lunch was included in our experience which was afternoon tea, a selection of fresh sandwiches and cakes which we took no time to devour since all that whisky had made us rather peckish.

afternoon tea at, The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery
(Giving my best pose)
afternoon tea at The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery
(Afternoon Tea)

One would think that the day must be over by now, but the Famous Grouse Experience had one last ace up their sleeve,  the bending experience! This was where we would take on the role of master blender and create our own 100ml bottle of whisky in the bending room. 

This is a very unique experience and I can't think of many if any other distillery that offer this type of tour. we entered the blending room to find a very impressive set up of nosing samples, 5 different un-named malts, beakers and plenty of glasses to taste each one. 

First up is the nosing test, this is where you test your ability to guess the correct smells from 10 different sample bottles. Thankfully passing is not mandatory and you won't get thrown out for guessing the leather sample smelt like chocolate. We actually did pretty well here and as a team I think Jess and I got about 80% of them correct (albeit with a little help from the guide).

the perfect day, blending experience at The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery
(Blending room)
blending experience at The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery
(Blending Experience)
blending experience at The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery
(Pretending I know what i'm doing)
Next it's time to make your whisky, there is no real rules here but it's advisable to write down what measures you put in so you know what makes up your blend. I started by first pouring a small measure of each whisky into a sample glass, you know for scientific tasting reasons. After trying each one, and now getting a little tipsy, I turned all Dr Frankenstein poring a little of this and a little of that into my beaker. By the end I had created probably the best blended whisky the world has even seen with a secret ratio of single malts that even I didn't know. 

Jess on the other hand was very methodical, precise and calculative in creating her blend. Of course everything is a competition so at the end we handed over the samples to the guide to find out who's was best. First up was mine, he was speechless as I expected since it was probably the best blend he had ever tasted (maybe even better than Grouse?) and then he brought me crashing back down to earth with his verdict that it was average and had a lingering aftertaste. Jess on the other hand, had of course created a better whisky than me, but lets not talk to much about that, the main point is Jess and the guide don't know good whisky, I'm definitely not a soar looser. 

blending experience at The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery
(Jess being very scientific)
blending experience at The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery
(Me being very un-scientific)

We had a great tour at the distillery and can't thank our guide enough, we ended up spending the whole afternoon there and found out lots about Famous Grouse and blended whisky, new appreciation for how complicated blended whisky is. I highly recommend a visit here to try one of the Whisky Experiences, even if you are not a big whisky fan it's a fun day out and something a little different from all the other distillery tours. If you would like to book a tour or find out more then hear over to The Famous Grouse Experience website here.

The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery ,
(Glenturret Distillery)
This is a sponsored post for The Famous Grouse Experience but all opinions and words are my own and no influence was given by Famous Grouse on the content of this post. 
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Sunday, 11 November 2018

Unique AirBnB's in Bali - Some of the best AirBnB's in Bali


Why stay in a hotel in Bali when for a fraction of the price you can stay in an jaw dropping private villa for half the costs! Bali is an island awash with stunning hotels and traditional architecture but this island's accommodations stretches so much further than just hotels and hostel for a price you probably can't believe. With over 2000 AirBnB's on the main island there is plenty of choice, a little too much when you actually start to look but fear not as I have compiled the best of the bunch with a list of 9 unique AirBnB's on the island of Bali. 

Best AirBnB in Bali, Most Unique AirBnB in Bali by www.calmctravels.com


How to get there 

In the beginning of the 19th Century it used to be a 9 month epic sail via Cape Town and Bombay to reach Singapore before you could catch the shorter boat over to the island of Bali, thankfully today its a little more convenient and you can fly to Bali via Dubai, Qatar, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and many more international airports. 

From the UK you can fly direct (13 hour flight) from London with British Airways, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and even Norwegian Air to Singapore or Kuala Lumpur from here its only a £80 round fare with Air Asia and about two and a half hour flight to Bali. Flights from London start from £375pp return for economy, £1050 in premium economy, £2250 in Business Class & £2900 First Class. 

Alternatively you can fly through the Middle East to break the journey into two 7 hour flights from many UK airports direct to Bali but these can cost quite a but more (from around £700pp).

Click on the title or pictures to take you to AirBnB website and remember you can get £25 off your first stay with my referral link here. 




Best AirBnB in Bali, Most Unique AirBnB in Bali by www.calmctravels.com
Best AirBnB in Bali, Most Unique AirBnB in Bali by www.calmctravels.com


Where: Hidden in the mountains of the Gunung Agung Volcano (remote) 2 hours from Denpasar Airport
What: 2 bed bamboo house + outhouse situated in a rice field
How Much: From £148pn + cleaning & service fee's
Key Features: Made fully from bamboo, small infinity pool, 2 bedrooms, free scooter to use during your stay

Why I'd like to stay: If you want to escape from the busy party scene of coastal Bali and want a more remote and quite holiday then this could be the place for you, being 35 minutes from the coast and located in the middle of nowhere this truly is a hideout. With the small private infinity pool and the extra hut bedroom outside there is enough space to invite 2 extra people along with you to enjoy a more quiet Bali holiday.



2. The Volcanic Beach Pad 


Best AirBnB in Bali, Most Unique AirBnB in Bali by www.calmctravels.com
Best AirBnB in Bali, Most Unique AirBnB in Bali by www.calmctravels.com


Where: North coast on a volcanic sand beach
What: A stunning 3 bedroom modern villa situated beside the beach
How Much: From £115pn + cleaning & service fee's
Key Features: Modern architecture, secluded location, stunning pool, open plan design

Why I'd like to stay: Located in a secluded beach front plot but only being a 30 min drive to the local village means you can get away from it all yet still be close enough to civilisation to nip to the shops. Imagine chilling by that pool with 5 friends and coking up a meal in that stunning kitchen and lounge area, this is the perfect family or friends holiday home.



3. The Eco Tree House 


Best AirBnB in Bali, Most Unique AirBnB in Bali by www.calmctravels.com
Best AirBnB in Bali, Most Unique AirBnB in Bali by www.calmctravels.com


Where: North of the island near Along-Aling Waterfall
What: An Eco tree lodge with a queen side bed and the option for an additional mattress for friends.
How Much: From £71pn + cleaning & service fee's
Key Features: Located near 7 waterfalls, stunning views, large bedroom and balcony, lots of outdoor space to chill out in, restaurants within walking distance.

Why I'd like to stay: If escaping technology is your thing then this might be the place for you, with no alarm to wake up up and plenty of outdoor hammock and sun lounger space you can spend the day catching up on your latest book or just enjoying the sound of nature. The space offers a 1 room tree hut with a queen-sized bed and the option for the owner to place a second queen size mattress outside in the deck for friends, but be warned they will be sleeping outside in nature and nature likes to bite!



4. The Epic Bamboo House


Best AirBnB in Bali, Most Unique AirBnB in Bali by www.calmctravels.com
Best AirBnB in Bali, Most Unique AirBnB in Bali by www.calmctravels.com


Where: South of the island just north of Denpasar
What: A 3 bedroom epic bamboo home
How Much: From £247pn + cleaning & service fee's
Key Features: Huge modern kitchen, hot tub, study space, incredible views, large open plan

Why I'd like to stay: This place looks like some one just went crazy with bamboo trying to create the most insane building they could and what a building it is, built over 4 floors with stunning views of the sounding countryside and not to far from the action of Bali this place is a perfect base for family or friends looking for a social hang out.



5. The Vintage Tree House 


Best AirBnB in Bali, Most Unique AirBnB in Bali by www.calmctravels.com
Best AirBnB in Bali, Most Unique AirBnB in Bali by www.calmctravels.com


Where: South Kuta on a hidden beach
What: 1 bedroom vintage tree house set in an eco village
How Much: £69pn + cleaning & service fee's
Key Features: Tree house, eco friendly, stunning shared pool, perfectly location

Why I'd like to stay: Located in the south of Bali on the peninsula of South Kuta this eco tree house and village is perfectly located for visiting the tourist spots yet being able to escape to your own tranquil retreat after. With a shared pool, on side restaurant and friendly village atmosphere this place receives incredible reviews and it is easy to see why from their photos.



6. The Temple 


Best AirBnB in Bali, Most Unique AirBnB in Bali by www.calmctravels.com
Best AirBnB in Bali, Most Unique AirBnB in Bali by www.calmctravels.com


Where: East coast of Bali
What: 1 bedroom stunning home on the beachfront
How Much: From £122 +  cleaning & service fee's
Key Features: Pool, large, extra space for up to 4 people, ocean front

Why I'd like to stay: From the outdoor standalone bathtub to the luxurious pool this temple like AirBnB just looks incredible, with plenty of indoor and outdoor space to unwind in it offers the perfect escape from the world.



7. The Epic Tree House 


Best AirBnB in Bali, Most Unique AirBnB in Bali by www.calmctravels.com
Best AirBnB in Bali, Most Unique AirBnB in Bali by www.calmctravels.com


Where: South Bali in the hills
What: 5 bedroom epic tree house with infinity pool
How Much: From £122pn +  cleaning & service fee's
Key Features: Infinity pool, space for 16 people, fibre Internet

Why I'd like to stay: This place might be styled from the outside like a hobbit outside but the inside is spacious and has ample room for you and your 15 guests. Imagine floating in that infinity pool over looking the jungle with a couple of local beers with your pals, if you manage to organise 16 people to go on holiday together then first bravo and second book this awesome pad!



8. The Poolside Tree House 


Best AirBnB in Bali, Most Unique AirBnB in Bali by www.calmctravels.com
Best AirBnB in Bali, Most Unique AirBnB in Bali by www.calmctravels.com


Where: On the Island of Gili Trawangan (short boat ride from Bali)
What: 2 bedroom tree house with private pool
How Much: From £207pn +  cleaning & service fee's
Key Features: Private pool at the foot of the tree house, outdoor kitchen and living room

Why I'd like to stay: A trip to Bali does not necessarily mean being confined to the mainland instead get yourself on a speedboat and race off to this stunning tree house on the Gili Islands where pristine beaches and incredible snorkeling awaits.


9. The Sea View Villa

Best AirBnB in Bali, Most Unique AirBnB in Bali by www.calmctravels.com
Best AirBnB in Bali, Most Unique AirBnB in Bali by www.calmctravels.com


Where: North coast of Bali
What: 4 bedroom villa with epic sea views
How Much: From £133 +  cleaning & service fee's
Key Features: Huge private pool, epic sea views, lots of space, modern and chic

Why I'd like to stay: Just imagine sat on sun lounger looking out to that sea view or hanging out at the edge of the infinity pool with a couple of beers watching the sun go down! With plenty of space gather up all your friends and family and get this booked for one epic trip to Bali.



More Epic AirBnB's from around the world

Want to see some more Awesome AirBnB's picked by me then see "you may also enjoy" below or click on the tab at the top "Inspiration" and then "best of AirBnB".

Thanks for reading



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Thursday, 1 November 2018

Travel Deals of the Month - Nov 2019 (cheap flights & luxury holidays)

From a raft of mega cheap flights from Glasgow or Edinburgh to some great solo traveller deals, there are plenty on offer this month in the travelling world.

All prices were correct at the time of writing on the 1st of Nov, if you missed out on some of these deals then why not sign up to our mailing list and join 500+ others who get these deals right to their mailboxes.



In News 

The much dreaded British Airways fleet at Gatwick Airport is finally getting its make over, with over half the aircraft's now fitted out with the new Economy and Economy plus it's a much needed revamp. You can expect the full fleet to be upgraded by June 2019 with almost all of the 3 class 777 already done (Cancun, Dominican Republic, Jamaica all done), it might just be St Lucia and Barbados that is left to complete.


2000 Avios for €19 

Groupon Spain are still selling 2000 Avios for just €19 (Try and use your BA Amex card to get it for £17 including fees), to purchase just click the link here (use Google translate to help you out) and then purchase the 2000 Avios package. Then open the voucher and click the link where you enter your Iberia account number (don't have an Iberia? Open one here). Once compete you will get your Air-miles posts into your Iberia account in a few days where you can then use transfer my Avios to switch them into your British Airways account. If you need any help then drop me an email here as I have done this quite a few times (you can also buy multiple Groupon vouchers with different Groupon Spain accounts and post the Avios to one Iberia Account).


Free Whisky Distillery Tours in November

Glenturret Distillery in the Scottish town of Crieff is celebrating 100 years of the Royal Air Force and with this are offering any retired or currently serving military personnel free tours or tasting experiences. Just head over to their website here and book or contact them to arrange the free tour during the month of November.


Hotels.com 10% Off 

Hotels.com are running another 10% off voucher, just use code "10UKOFF" to receive 10% off selected hotel bookings.


Business Class Deals 

There are currently no business class sales on the go so quite limited for premium travel this month, two deals which stand out are.

London - Bangkok for £1200 return per person flying with Egypt Air with various dates available.

Paris - Rio De Jeneiro for £1180 return per person flying with Swiss Air with various dates available up until June 2019.


Cheap Econnemy Flights (return prices pp)

Lots of cheap deals for January 2019 and if you cant find the deal when clicking on the link then play about with the dates with the calendar view on Sky Scanner.

Glasgow - Dublin = £20 in Jan or Feb with various dates available
Glasgow to Rzeszow (Poland) = £21 in Jan or Feb with limited dates available
Glasgow to Wroclaw (Poland) = £28 in Jan or Feb with limited dates available
Glasgow to Faro (Portugal) = £21 on 10th Jan to 17th Jan or 17th to 24th or 24th to 31st or any mix of those dates
Glasgow to Luqa (Malta) = £26 on 12th to 19th Jan or £31 on 19th to 26th Jan
Glasgow to Lanzarote = £35 on 7th Dec to 14th Dec 2018


Edinburgh to Brussels (Belgium) = £20 in Nov/ Dec / Jan / Feb / March with various dates available
Edinburgh to Tallinn (Estonia) = From £19 in Nov & Jan with limited dates available
Edinburgh to Nantes (France) = £19 with limited dates available in Jan
Edinburgh to Toluouse (France) = £20 with limited dates in Jab & Feb
Edinburgh to Berlin = £19 with various dates available in Jan
Edinburgh to Hamburg = £20 with various dates available in Jan
Edinburgh to Dublin = £19 with various dates available in Jan
Edinburgh to Bologna (Italy) = £19 on 18th to 21st or 25th to 28th Jan
Edinburgh to Venice = £21 with various dates available in Jan
Edinburgh to Porto (Portugal) = £20 on 27th Nov to 11th Dec
Edinburgh to Lisbon = £25 on 18th of Jan to 25th Jan
Edinburgh to Stockholm = £21 with various dates available in Jan
Edinburgh to Gothenburg = £21 with various dates available in Jab
Edinburgh to Bratislava = £30 from 31st of Jan to 7th of Feb

Aberdeen to Alicante = £24 with limited dates in Dec



Holidays 


5* Krabi (Thailand) from £839pp 




Over water bungalow in the Maldives from £1599pp 



7 nights, all inclusive in an over water bungalow on the 5* Island resort of Cocoon Maldives.


Singles Holidays 

A selection of holidays based on 1 person travelling on package specific deals for solo travellers.

10 day Sri Lanka Tour including excursions from £1400pp 





10 night Camdonia and Vietnam Tour from £1299



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Friday, 26 October 2018

Island hopping in the Outer Hebrides - Camping Travel Diary

Island hopping through the Scottish Islands from Barra to Skye sounds like the idyllic camping trip but we weren't quite ready for those 50mph Artic winds battering our tent and near freezing temperatures every night, but I guess thats what happens when you try camp on a remote western Scottish island in early May.

Peak of Eaval hill in North Uist, Almost Chic and Cal McTravels during their Scottish Island Hopping in the outer Hebrides
(On the peak of Rueval - Benbecula)

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