MARCH 30TH, 2016 BY LES ROBINSON
In Scots Gaelic, Scotch is referred to as ‘uisge beatha’ – literally the ‘water of life’ – and a trip to a local distillery is the perfect way to learn more about, and sample, Scotland’s national drink.
The origins of whisky date back to 1494 and though all whiskies use the same basic ingredients of water and malted barley, each distillery is unique with its own distinctive setting and fascinating story to tell.
Your tour will normally include a whisky presentation, a tour of the production facilities and an opportunity to sample the much acclaimed end product. Deluxe tours will also include the nosing and tasting of aged expressions of the distillery’s whisky brands.
Advanced booking is advisable for large groups as places are limited on the tours. Children are welcome but they are generally not allowed into the production facilities part of the tour. The larger distilleries have visitor centres and will often serve food and light refreshments.
Most distilleries, while open all year round, will vary their opening times depending on the time of year. It is therefore advisable to either phone ahead or check the distillery’s website for exact timings. Tour prices start from around £5 per person, but budget for £30 to £40 per person for the deluxe tours. Some distilleries, like Speyside’s Glenfiddich and Glenlivet, offer free tours.
Properties in Wester Ross, meanwhile, make ideal bases for visiting the Glen Ord, Dalmore, Glenmorangie, Clynelish, Old Pulteney, and Highland Park distilleries.
There are also a number of options further south in Aviemore, handy for touring the Ben Nevis, Dalwhinnie, Oban, Tobermory, and Talisker distilleries.
If you wish to be in close proximity to Scotland’s Malt Whisky Trail, why not book a holiday cottage in Speyside? Aberlour, Dufftown and Ballindalloch are ideal for exploring the only malt whisky trail in the world. Dufftown, known as the Malt Whisky Capital, has 7 working distilleries alone, including world-famous Glenfiddich. The trail includes Benromach, Cardhu, Dallas Dhu Historic Distillery, Glenfiddich, Glen Grant, The Glenlivet, Glen Moray, the Speyside Cooperage and Strathisla, Scotland’s oldest continually working distillery. From your base in Speyside you can also tour Aberlour, Glenfarclas, Cragganmore and Glen Moray.
Whether you are a whisky enthusiast or simply enjoy the occasional dram, a visit to a whisky distillery makes for a fascinating and enjoyable day out.
Please note – consider nominating someone in your group to drive. Alcohol driving limits in the UK make it highly recommended to visit the distillery on foot, public transport or taxi if there are no teetotalers among you.
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