If ever you find yourself on the Isle of Mull, craving a strong drink with an amazing view, I recommend a trip to the Western Isles Hotel, overlooking the picturesque harbour of Tobermory.
It’s especially good during the hours of daylight, and ideally the violet hour when you watch the changing colours of the sky play out over the bay.
Yet even after dark the view is still stunning.
As well as a hotel, there is a beautiful conservatory bar and other areas for both guests and non-residents to enjoy a drink. The atmosphere is very civilised. It’s also very friendly to well-behaved dogs.
And joy upon joys, they produce a wonderful martini. There aren’t many venues on the island, or even throughout the Hebrides, which permanently maintain a classic martini on their standard drinks menu, but the Western Isles offers a very delightful Vesper martini.
The staff are very skilled and attentive, so if you wanted to request one of the classic variations they are very accommodating (if the required supplies are available on the island of course…).
The martinis are produced with care and attention. Lemon peel is carefully and comprehensively squeezed into the drink to impart the citrus clarity.
My preference is for a conical glass to be used for a martini but coupe glasses are standard in the UK and they are certainly well chilled here. My preference is also to keep the spirits in the freezer so they retain an oily texture and do not require shaking with ice. Nonetheless, the staff at the Western are very attentive in their shaking so the drink is quite cold when served. The glasses are also very well chilled.
The serve was a very crisp 2.4°C (36.32°F).
This was a very refreshing drink. The vermouth of choice was Lillet Blanc, so there was no skimping or substitution. The gin and vodka were also high-quality and nicely balanced. The vesper had an almost sweet and sour flavour and was very enjoyable on the terrace.
The venue also does a very good espresso martini by the way. Highly recommended, especially if you’ve had a long day, but you’ve got a long evening ahead. Such is the way of life on the Isle of Mull.
There’s a lot of socialising on the island, including around the traditional music scene. Some of the music would make an ideal accompaniment for a martini, so if you’re interested, have a listen to this spotify playlist.
There are also a lot of outdoor activities to enjoy during the daytime, such as hiking, sea swimming or spotting some of the abundant and incredible local wildlife, but things don’t settle down in the evening. For such a small place there are plenty of social activities, often well into the night.
The Western Isles Hotel is a fantastic venue in the islands and a perfect place to spend the evening. If you want to explore the wider nightlife of Tobermory it’s also an excellent launching pad. By the time you’ve finished your drinks, you’ll be in the mood for sliding down the hill to the Main Street to continue the night.
The hotel also has a beautiful selection of rooms, so if you’re visiting the island it’s a very civilised place to base yourself.
It’s a historical venue. Built in 1883, the landmark hotel enjoyed a brisk trade through the years. In WWII it was taken over by the navy (as were a number of properties in Tobermory) and used for training and accommodation, situated as it was in the imposing position over the harbour, which served as a strategic naval base for the war in the Atlantic.
It was also the set for the 1945 romantic film I Know Where I’m Going (the full film is available for free on youtube as you can see above). You can also read its entry on IMDB.
If the film and setting has whet your appetite for more vintage imagery from the Isle of Mull, have a look at this classic slice of documentary from 1939:
The archivist misspelt the name of the town and the accent is from another era but it’s still a wonderful set of imagery showing the landscapes of the island – including the Western Isles Hotel itself.
If you stay at the hotel and enjoy some of the martinis, be careful on the exquisite stairs.
And if you decide to venture out into the town for a few more beverages, the exterior signage of the hotel should guide you back up the hill again when it’s time for bed.
So, if you’re on the Isle of Mull and fancy a martini, be sure to try the Western Isles Hotel, especially around sunset if you can!
2 thoughts on “A Western Isles Martini in Tobermory”
Only if you join me ! ????????
All sounds very tempting indeed!