Scotland is famously known for its whisky – so well-known the drink is commonly referred to as ‘scotch’. Whether it be a whisky masterclass or a whisky tasting session, many distilleries offer a glimpse at how the well-loved drink is made through tours which usually end in sampling – result! With so many world-renowned distilleries (over 120 in Scotland alone) it would be a crime to miss out on sampling some of the country’s national drinks whilst you are in the country and is sure to be an enjoyable and educational experience. We’ve listed some that we think are definitely worth making a trip to.
The whisky distilleries in Scotland are divided into several different whisky producing locations: Speyside, Isle of Islay, the Highlands and the Isle of Skye.
Whisky distilleries of the highlands…
This Highland Park distillery is situated in the Orkney Islands. It’s certainly the most northerly distillery in Scotland, but is definitely worth the journey as it produces some of the finest whisky. This is one of the few distilleries left that still use a traditional malting floor, where the malt is turned by hand. They offer a variety of tours and even one which allows you to work a day in the distillery! Having been in the business since 1798, Highland Park has won the award for Best Spirit in the World three times so it would be rude not to pay it a visit.
This distillery is known for having the tallest stills in Scotland at 17 feet, making it a lighter and smoother type of whisky. Glenmorangie use lots of different casks from all over the world for different stages of the maturation phases, giving the whisky its unique taste.
Isle of Islay
Whisky distilleries on the Isle of Islay…
Lagavulin whisky production dates back to 1816, however, it has been in production illegally from 1742. Lagavulin’s famed 16-year-old whisky is made in ex-bourbon casks and is so popular that production rarely meets demand.
Laphroaig is the most popular of the Islay whiskies, selling the most worldwide and is only a year older than Lagavulin. The distillery offers a variety of different experiences from whisky tasting to an extensive ‘water to whisky’ tour. There is also the option to take your whisky away with you as a miniature if you are driving – a thoughtful touch!
Opened in 1815 and known for its high alcohol content whiskies is the Ardbeg distillery. Production shut down briefly in the eighties and nineties, however, once production restarted, the new owners discovered casks of whisky dating back to the 1970s and released a 27-year-old single malt which was a huge success, making the whisky a firm favourite.
Bruichladdich differentiates itself by producing an unpeated whisky which is rare amongst other distilleries on the island and almost all the equipment is the original Victorian. This distillery is not afraid to try new things or techniques as they now produce gin from foraged island botanicals too!
Isle of Skye
Whisky distilleries of the Isle of Skye…
This distillery is the last remaining on the Isle of Skye. With stunning views of the Cuillin Mountains, Skye is a popular tourist destination and Talisker can get very busy in summer. We advise booking a tour in advance.
Our Whiskies of The West Tour could be a great option for you as there is the chance to visit all three of these well-known distilleries. The whiskies of the west, especially of the seaboard, seem to take on the tang of the sea as well as the peaty soil. Book now and come try it for yourself!
Whisky distilleries of Speyside…
The Glenlivet is located in a remote Cairngorm glen and unsurprisingly, like many, started as an illegal distillery, but became the first official Scottish distillery in 1824. It’s become one of the biggest single malt distilleries in the world to keep up with global demand. The tour of the Glenlivet distillery tells the story of the smugglers through the glen and includes a visit to Josie’s Well where the water used in the production originates.
Glenfiddich are whisky connoisseurs. The distillery was built by hand in Speyside by the Grant family and is still family run to this day.
Macallan is probably one of the most recognised names in the whisky business. Only 16% of their final distillation makes it into the casks for aging. Their whiskies are some of the most famed in the world. In 2014 a Macallan M Imperiale sold at an auction for $628,000. The Macallan distillery has recently gone under an £140 million-pound renovation which sees the roof blend in with the hillside and emphasis has been placed on the visitor experience with a restaurant also being opened on site.
Interested? Book the Speyside Malt Whisky Trail!
If this sounds up your street, why not request more information about our Speyside Malt Whisky Trail which stops off at two out of three of these distilleries. This is the only trail of its kind in the world in the heart of stunning Speyside, the ideal place to discover more about this ancient art.