Scotland is nicely often called a producer of among the greatest whiskies on this planet, and there are over 100 whisky distilleries in Scotland. Many of those distilleries are open for whisky tasting and excursions.

I had the pleasure of residing in Scotland for a variety of years, which allowed to me to frequently partake in two of my favorite pastimes—panorama {photograph} and consuming whisky. Over the previous decade I’ve visited dozens of Scottish whisky distilleries and I’ve loved a fair proportion of “wee drams”!

On this information, I’m going to share with you the whole lot it’s good to learn about whisky in Scotland. This can embrace an outline of the completely different areas and their flavours in addition to a information to how whisky is made.

We expect that visiting a whisky distillery is an important a part of any journey to Scotland, even for these of you who don’t like whisky. Jess for instance isn’t the most important fan of whisky, however she nonetheless enjoys visiting the distilleries and studying all about their historical past and studying how whisky is made.

Throughout our time in Scotland, we visited an incredible many whisky distilleries, from world well-known manufacturers like Talisker and Glenmorangie, to extra area of interest producers just like the distillery discovered on the Isle of Raasay.

Primarily based on our experiences, I’ll share a variety of Scottish whisky distilleries we predict you need to contemplate visiting. I’ll divide these up by area, so wherever you intend on getting in Scotland, there will likely be a whisky expertise ready for you!

Scottish Whisky Overview

Let’s get began with an outline of whisky in Scotland, together with how it’s made, the varieties of whisky, and the place yow will discover whisky in Scotland.

What’s Scottish Whisky?

Scottish whisky, often known as whisky, Scotch, or Scotch whisky, is a robust alcoholic drink produced in Scotland. It’s created from grain, mostly barley. The Scottish Gaelic phrase for whisky is uisge beatha (from the Irish uisce beatha) which implies “water of life”.

For a whisky to be labelled and bought as a Scotch whisky, it should meet a variety of standards, which embrace:

  • It might solely be created from water and malted barley (different entire cereal grains may be added)
  • It must be produced at a distillery in Scotland
  • It should be distilled in a pot nonetheless
  • It must be matured in an oak cask in Scotland for no less than three years
  • It should be no less than an alcoholic power of 40% by quantity

These standards are outlined by the Scotch Whisky Laws, which you’ll be able to learn right here. It’s additionally unlawful to make another kind of whisky aside from Scotch in Scotland.

Word that in Scotland, whisky is spelt with out an “e”. In the event you seek advice from whiskey, it’s assumed you’re speaking about Irish or American whiskey. Whisky from Japan is often spelt the identical as from Scotland.

There are literally 5 several types of Scotch whisky, that are:

  • Single Malt Scotch Whisky
  • Single Grain Scotch Whisky
  • Blended Scotch Whisky
  • Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
  • Blended Grain Scotch Whisky.

I feel that the majority of us studying about Scotch whisky are prone to have an interest within the distinction between a single malt whisky and a blended whisky. Let me clarify the distinction for you.

Scottish Whisky


What’s Single Malt Scotch Whisky?

A single malt whisky is a particular kind of whisky which should meet two standards. It should be made at a single distillery, and just one malted grain can be utilized. Within the case of single malt Scotch whisky, that malted grain should be barley.

As talked about above, it’s also possible to get what is called a single grain single whisky. This should even be made at a single distillery, however can comprise a number of cereal grains. The only within the title refers back to the distillery, quite than the grain.

As soon as these “single” whiskies have been created, they will both be bottled and bought as is, or they are often blended collectively to create what is called a mix.

Well-liked manufacturers of single malt scotch whisky embrace Glenfiddich, Macallan, Glenmorangie, and Laphroaig.


What’s a Blended Scotch Whisky?

A blended whisky combines a variety of completely different single whiskies into one drink. This could be a mix of single malt whiskies, a mix of single grain whiskies, or a mix of each. Therefore there are three classes of blended whisky in Scotland.

A blended whisky is often designed to have a particular flavour profile, and it permits whisky producers to supply a extra constant product, whatever the particular person variations of every single malt.

Blended Scotch whiskies, created from each Single Malt and Single Grain whiskies, account for over 90% of all Scotch whisky gross sales. Well-liked manufacturers of blended Scotch whisky embrace Johnnie Walker, J&B, Well-known Grouse, and Bell’s.

Oban distillery


How is Scotch Whisky Made?

There are 5 important phases in Scotch whisky manufacturing. There are after all minor variations to this course of from distillery to distillery, however the normal method Scotch whisky is made is as follows.

1. Malting

With a purpose to make alcohol you want simply two issues: yeast and sugar. The yeast feeds on the sugar, and produces alcohol and carbon dioxide as a by product.

The sugar in Scotch whisky comes from germinated barley grains, that are created in a course of referred to as malting. This identical course of can be used for beer manufacturing.

Barley grains are first steeped in water, after which unfold out on massive flooring to permit the germination to happen. The temperature, air circulate, and humidity on the malting ground is rigorously managed for optimum germination.

The germination converts the starches within the barley grains into sugar, which usually the seed would use as power for progress. This course of additionally creates warmth, so cautious administration of the grain, together with common turning, is required to maintain the grain on the optimum temperature.

As soon as the grain has germinated for round every week, the germination course of must be stopped to maximise the sugar potential and forestall the grain from turning right into a barley crop!

To cease the germination course of, the barley seeds, now often called “inexperienced malt”, are heated and dried in a course of often called kilning. Historically that is performed on a big ground stuffed with small perforated holes. The inexperienced malt is unfold over the ground and scorching air from the warmth supply under the ground passes up by means of the holes over a 24 to 48 hour interval.

It’s often at this level that one of many key flavours of some whiskies is imparted. If peat is used because the gasoline for the kiln, the peat smoke imparts a particular flavour to the barley, which will likely be noticeable within the whisky. Peat is mainly partially decayed vegetation or natural matter, which has been used a gasoline supply for hundreds of years in Scotland.

Not all distilleries use peat, some use different extra typical varieties of heating supply to dry the barley.

Whatever the heating supply, the tip consequence is identical – dried malt which is prepared for the subsequent part of the whisky making course of.

Laphroaig Distillery Islay

While you go to a whisky distillery, try to be conscious that not all distilleries malt their very own barley. It’s because it takes up loads of area, and so limits the quantity of whisky that the distillery can produce. Because of this, many distilleries purchase their malt from speciality malt homes, who mass produce malt for whisky and beer manufacturing.

Beneath the Scotch whisky laws, it’s permissible to make use of malt from an exterior supply, however the the rest of the method as much as maturation should happen in the identical distillery.


2. Mashing

The subsequent stage of the whisky manufacturing course of is called mashing. The purpose of mashing is to extract the sugar from the dried germinated malt so it may be fed to the yeast.

Earlier than mashing, the dried malt is floor up into a rough flour often called grist. It’s then blended with scorching water in an enormous container often called a mash tun. The sugar within the grain dissolves within the scorching water, turning right into a substance often called wort.

The standard of the water at this stage of the method is alleged to be essential, which is why most distilleries are situated close to to a pure water supply like a spring.

The temperature of the water can be essential. Most distilleries in Scotland will do a number of mashes, beginning with water at round 67C / 152F which is then mashed and drained as wort into containers often called washbacks. Hotter waters are then added to the mash tun and drained in 2 or Three further mashes, to extract extra sugar.

Variations in time, water temperature, variety of mashes, and stirring can all impact the ultimate whisky flavour.

As soon as the wort is cooled within the washback to round 20C / 68F, it’s prepared for the subsequent stage of the method—fermentation!


3. Fermentation

To create alcohol, yeast is added to the washback. Historically, washbacks have been big barrel formed containers made out of wooden, however trendy distilleries usually use stainless-steel.

In Scotland, most distillers maintain the view that the yeast used doesn’t make an enormous distinction to the flavour of the whisky. Because of this, most of them use the identical yeast which is called distiller’s yeast. Apparently, many distillers in the USA and Japan are of a distinct opinion, and in these nations the selection of yeast can fluctuate from distiller to distiller.

As soon as blended with the wort, the yeast feeds on the sugar within the wort. This creates alcohol and carbon dioxide in a course of often called fermentation. The method additionally produces warmth, and through fermentation the temperature within the washback will enhance to round 35C / 95F.

Fermentation is on the coronary heart of all alcohol manufacturing. For whisky, the fermentation course of takes from 2 to five days, relying on elements like temperature, in addition to how lengthy the distillery prefers to do it for. Completely different durations of time can have an effect on the ultimate whisky flavour.

As soon as fermented, the combination is called a “wash”, and often has an alcohol content material which may fluctuate from 5% – 9%.


4. Distillation

Up up to now, the method of whisky manufacturing has been similar to the method of creating beer. Nonetheless, the subsequent stage of the whisky making course of, distillation, may be very completely different!

Distillation entails the heating of the wash to some extent the place the alcohol evaporates. That is performed in a container often called a pot nonetheless.

A pot nonetheless is a sort of nonetheless which solely permits for one batch of product to be made at a time. In Scotch whisky making, copper pot stills are used. In addition to being very fairly, the copper serves an essential perform. It removes the sulphuric compounds from the whisky, which might negatively have an effect on the flavour.

As soon as the wash is within the pot nonetheless, it’s heated. Alcohol usually boils at 78.4 °C (173.12 °F), which is far cooler than the boiling level of water. Thus the alcohol evaporates into the slender neck of the nonetheless, from the place it travels down a sloping pipe (the lyne arm) right into a condenser. Right here it cools, right into a product often called low wine. This course of often lasts a number of hours.

Dallas Dhu Distillery

What’s left within the pot nonetheless, a product often called pot ale, is often transformed into animal feed.

Low wine has an alcohol content material of round 25-35%. As Scotch whisky must have a minimal alcohol content material of 40%, the low wine then goes by means of a second distillation to additional enhance the alcohol content material. That is often a slower and extra cautious distillation course of than the primary distillation.

The spirit that comes out of the second distillation may have a a lot larger alcohol content material, beginning as excessive as 85% ABV. After condensing, it enters the “spirit run”. The spirit now passes by means of what is called a spirit secure. It is a sealed field with home windows and numerous shops that the distiller controls.

The spirit secure is sealed as a result of as soon as a spirit reaches such excessive ranges of alcohol content material, it’s topic to taxation. With a purpose to cease unlawful siphoning of untaxed spirits earlier than the portions may be measured, the spirit secure was invented. This enables the distiller to handle the spirits and management the ultimate output, with out having precise entry to them.

Laphroaig Distillery Islay

At this level the distillers purpose is to seize solely part of spirit that will likely be used to make the ultimate whisky. This half is also known as the guts, and it has an alcohol content material that varies from round 75% ABV by means of to 60% ABV.

The very robust first elements of the distillation (often called the pinnacle and/or foreshots), and the final weaker a part of the distillation (often called the tail or feints) are separated out within the spirit secure. They aren’t wasted however as an alternative they are going to be added to a later first distillation course of.

As with the opposite processes, there are a selection of things within the distillation course of which will have an effect on the ultimate flavour of the whisky. Every little thing from the size and angle of the lyne arm, to the form of the pot stills themselves, by means of to the quantity of head and tail that’s lower from the method.

The ultimate product of the distillation, often called the “new make”, is then often watered right down to round 63% ABV, earlier than going to the ultimate stage of the method—maturation.


5. Maturation

The ultimate stage in Scotch whisky manufacturing is maturation. To qualify as a Scotch whisky, the “new make” should be positioned in an oak cask and allowed to mature for a minimum of Three years in Scotland. The maturation doesn’t should happen on the distillery, and for security, many distilleries mature their casks at separate places to mitigate the dangers of fireplace.

Throughout maturation, the liquid develops further flavours and coloration from the oak. While three years is the minimal, many distilleries age their whisky for for much longer, leading to completely different flavour profiles and darker colours.

Various kinds of oak impart completely different flavours, with distillers usually utilizing ex-bourbon or ex-sherry casks for added flavour. Many barrels are re-used from America in addition to France and Spain. Whisky is typically moved between several types of barrel through the years, to regulate the flavour profile.

Throughout maturation, part of the whisky is misplaced to evaporation, within the area of two% to 4% per 12 months. This is called the Angel’s Share, and is why maturation warehouses are inclined to odor so good!

Lastly, as soon as the whisky is deemed matured, it is able to be bottled or blended. Usually will probably be diluted right down to between 40% and 46% (bottling power), though some whiskies are bought as “cask power” whiskies, with an ABV of over 60%.

And that’s it – the whisky is now able to be loved!

Cardhu Distillery


What Are the Important Scottish Whisky Areas?

Based on the Scotch Whisky Affiliation, Scotland has 5 important whisky producing areas. The whisky from every area has its personal distinctive flavour profile. The areas are as follows:

  • The Lowlands
  • Speyside
  • The Highlands
  • Campbeltown
  • Islay

This map picture reveals you the place these all are in Scotland for reference.



Right here’s a fast overview of every area, the flavour you may anticipate with a whisky from every area, in addition to some standard single malt Scotch whiskies from every space.


The Lowlands Whisky Area

Protecting the southern a part of Scotland, the Lowlands whisky area consists of Edinburgh, Glasgow, the Scottish Border area, Dumfries & Galloway, and Fife.

The world is at the moment residence to round 18 whisky distilleries, together with well-known manufacturers like Auchentoshan, Glenkinchie and Bladnoch, in addition to newer distilleries just like the Glasgow Distillery Firm and Clydeside Distillery.

Lowlands whisky is often described as floral, gentle and candy with grassy flavours. Lowlands whisky can be a well-liked addition to many blends, because the flavours usually are not overpowering.

Lowland whisky makes for starter whisky for many who haven’t tried Scotch whisky earlier than. As well as, most of the Lowland distilleries are simple to go to on day journeys from Edinburgh and Glasgow.


The Highlands Whisky Area

Stretching throughout the northern half of Scotland, the Highlands whisky area is the biggest of all of the whisky areas. It’s residence to 47 distilleries, together with Oban, Tomatin, and Glenmorangie.

The Highlands area consists of the vast majority of the Scottish islands aside from Islay. This isn’t a proper area, however is also known as “The Islands”. Island whisky distilleries, of which there are 17, embrace Talisker, Jura, and Highland Park.

Highlands whisky is described as fruity, candy, spicy and malty.


Speyside Whisky Area

The Speyside Whisky area is present in a small area of north japanese Scotland, between Aberdeen and Inverness. Speyside will get is title from the River Spey which runs by means of the area. It’s surrounded by the Highlands Whisky area, nevertheless as a result of sheer variety of distilleries right here (50!), it’s its personal area.

Speyside is residence to a few of Scotland’s most well-known single malt whiskies, together with Glenfiddich, The Macallan, The Glenlivet, Dalwhinnie, and Balvenie. Round half of all whisky manufacturing in Scotland occurs within the Speyside area.

Speyside whisky is mostly described as lighter and sweeter than whisky from different areas, and is a well-liked whisky for these making an attempt whisky for the primary time. As you may think although, with so many distilleries to select from, there’s an enormous vary of flavours, with caramel, fruit and spices being the first traits of a Speyside.

Speyside can be the house of Scotland’s Malt Whisky Path. It is a tourism imitative that hyperlinks a variety of distilleries in addition to the Speyside Cooperage right into a path. In case you are doing a self-drive whisky journey and love Speyside whisky, the path is an effective possibility for planning your journey. Or you possibly can go away driving to another person and  be part of a tour like this or this.


Campbeltown Whisky Area

Discovered on the Kintyre Peninsula to the west of Glasgow, the Campbeltown Whisky Area is the smallest in Scotland. For a time, this small area was residence to over 30 distilleries, and was labelled the whisky capital of Scotland.

Nonetheless, this success led to over manufacturing and a discount in high quality, with many distilleries failing. Immediately, solely three distilleries survive in Campbeltown: Springbank, Glengyle, and Glen Scotia. Courting from 1828, Springbank is the oldest and maybe most well-known of the three.

The whisky from Campbeltown is exclusive, with fruity, peaty, candy, and smoky notes.


Islay Whisky Area

Final, however in no way least, the Isle of Islay is the fifth of Scotland’s whisky producing areas. There are 9 distilleries on the island, the vast majority of that are well-known manufacturers. These embrace Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Ardbeg, and Bruichladdich.

Islay whisky is famed for being closely peated and smoky, and is unquestionably a divisive flavour. Peated water and peat fired kilns, mixed with the sea-side location, undoubtedly contributes to the distinctive flavours of an Islay single malt.

Nonetheless, with 9 distilleries to select from, there are whiskies right here to swimsuit most palates. Peated Islay single malt whisky is definitely my favourite type of whisky; nevertheless, it may be fairly an awesome flavour for first time whisky drinkers!



That are the Most Well-liked Scottish Whiskys?

There are over 100 distilleries in Scotland, and every of them produces a variety of completely different single malt whiskies. As well as, many of those distilleries additionally contribute their whisky to blended whiskies, that means there are actually a whole lot of whiskies to select from, with an enormous vary of flavour profiles.

Like wine, particular person preferences will fluctuate and there’s no “greatest” whisky. One of many enjoyable issues is to find what you get pleasure from consuming most.

My private favorite whisky is Laphroaig 10 12 months previous, which has a really robust peat and sea flavour. I’ll admit, it’s not for everybody. Well-known whisky drinker Winston Churchill favoured Johnny Walker Pink Label, which stays one of many best-selling blended whiskies on this planet.

By gross sales quantity, the next distilleries promote probably the most single malt Scotch whisky based on Scotch Whisky Journal:

  • Glenfiddich
  • The Glenlivet
  • Macallan
  • Singleton
  • Glenmorangie

Single malt gross sales pale compared to blended whiskies although, which account for over 90% of Scotch whisky bought all over the world. These are the highest 5 blended whisky manufacturers by gross sales based on the Spirits Enterprise:

  • Johnnie Walker
  • Ballantine’s
  • Chivas Regal
  • Grant’s
  • William Lawson’s

In fact, that is simply the tip of the iceberg. Over a billion bottles of whisky are exported from Scotland every year!

Glenfiddich Distillery


Are you able to Go to a Whisky Distillery in Scotland?

You completely can go to a whisky distillery in Scotland. Most of the distilleries throughout the nation supply excursions and tastings. The truth is, the toughest half will likely be deciding which distillery or distilleries to go to!

In fact, there are some methods to slender down which distilleries you need to go to.

First, if you have already got a favorite single malt Scotch whisky, you then may choose to go to the distillery the place it’s made. You need to be conscious that whereas many distilleries supply excursions, not all of them do. As well as, many solely run excursions on particular days or require advance reserving. So undoubtedly verify forward earlier than simply turning up!

Second, the place you’re visiting in Scotland will seemingly make a distinction to which whisky distillery or distilleries you go to. In fact, whisky aficionados will likely be planning their Scotland journey round distilleries, or taking a multi-day whisky distillery tour like this. Nonetheless, I feel many guests will need to go to someplace close to the place they’re already planning on going.

With this in thoughts, this submit features a information to which whisky distilleries you possibly can go to primarily based on standard locations in Scotland. So wherever your Scottish adventures are taking you, you need to be capable to simply discover a distillery or two!

Glenfiddich Distillery


How To Go to Scottish Whisky Distilleries

Earlier than I dive into particular person whisky distilleries you possibly can go to in Scotland, I need to undergo some practicalities for find out how to go to whisky distilleries in Scotland.

Nearly all of whisky distilleries in Scotland are situated in superbly scenic however comparatively distant places. There are some newer distilleries that are inside metropolis boundaries, comparable to The Clydeside Distillery in Glasgow and the Holyrood Distillery in Edinburgh. These metropolis distilleries simply be visited on foot or by public transport by these staying within the metropolis.

Nonetheless, most whisky distilleries in Scotland are situated rurally, and so you have to to do some planning with a view to go to them. Listed below are your choices.


Driving to Whisky Distilleries

First, you possibly can after all drive to the distilleries your self. You possibly can rent a automobile or use your personal car. In case you are seeking to rent a automobile, we often use and suggest Priceline or Enterprise. For motorhomes in Scotland, we suggest Spaceships.

Driving your self although has an enormous drawback although in not with the ability to participate within the tastings. Personally I feel one of many good issues about visiting whisky distilleries is sampling the whiskies within the surrounds of the distillery. As a result of Scottish drink driving guidelines are very strict, this isn’t attainable (no less than for the motive force!) should you drive your self.

The excellent news should you drive your self is that almost all of the distilleries are very accommodating for drivers and cyclists, and can allow you to take your whisky samples with you, for consumption at a later level. So that is nonetheless an possibility.

In fact, it’s also possible to contemplate visiting distilleries by public transit or as a part of a tour.

Clynelish Distillery


Public Transport to Whisky Distilleries

As a consequence of their usually distant location, the vast majority of whisky distilleries aren’t simply accessible by public transport, particularly from the bigger cities in Scotland.

Nonetheless, among the distilleries are accessible by public transport, each by bus and practice.

Some examples of whisky distilleries accessible by practice in Scotland are as follows:

  • Blair Athol  – Pitlochry practice station, 1hr 50 minutes from Edinburgh
  • Dalwhinnie – Dalwhinnie practice station, 2hr 20 minutes from Edinburgh
  • Auchentoshan – Kilpatrick practice station, 30 minutes from Glasgow
  • Oban  – Oban practice station, 3hrs 5minutes from Glasgow
  • Glen Ord  – Muir of Ord practice station, 20 minutes from Inverness
  • Strathisla – Keith practice station, 1 hr 5 minutes from Inverness
  • Glen Moray – Elgin practice station, 40 minutes from Inverness
  • Glenmorangie – Tain practice station, 1hr 20 minutes from Inverness

As you possibly can see, it’s definitely attainable to go to a variety of distilleries by practice. It’s additionally attainable to go to a variety of distilleries by bus, though buses to the extra distant elements of Scotland may be considerably irregular.

Truthfully although, in our expertise, you should have a greater time taking both a non-public or guided group tour to go to a whisky distillery. A tour will take you door to door, allow you to go to a variety of distilleries and different points of interest, and infrequently aren’t way more costly than taking a practice for a few hours!

For timetables and tickets, we suggest the Trainline web site for trains, and Traveline Scotland for buses.


Excursions of Whisky Distilleries

Our most well-liked possibility for visiting whisky distilleries in Scotland is to take a guided tour. There are an enormous variety of guided excursions of whisky distilleries in Scotland, departing from places across the nation. These will both be group guided excursions, or it’s also possible to organize a non-public guided tour. Non-public excursions are sometimes customisable, so you possibly can alter what you go to relying in your pursuits.

Excursions supply an a variety of benefits. First, another person handles all of the transport, so that you don’t have to fret about drink driving legal guidelines or public transport schedules. You additionally get a educated information who will entertain and inform you. Most excursions additionally embrace further points of interest within the space. All it’s important to do is flip up on the assembly place and luxuriate in!

Excursions run from the most important cities across the UK. There are half day, full day, and multi-day excursions of Scotland that embrace whisky distilleries. Some excursions will likely be purely whisky centered, while others may embrace a distillery or two as a part of an general sightseeing expertise.

You possibly can take a half-day tour from Glasgow or be part of a 8-day guided tour from London

We all the time suggest evaluating excursions to search out one which fits. Excursions fluctuate by group dimension, sights visited, and in addition by what’s included. Some excursions for instance will embrace the distillery excursions, while for others this is perhaps a separate cost.

We’ve taken loads of excursions in Scotland, together with to many whisky distilleries. Our favorite small group tour operator in Scotland is Rabbie’s, who run a variety of excursions. They will additionally organize non-public excursions. You possibly can see all of their whisky excursions of Scotland right here.

Deanston Distillery

Listed below are some excursions to contemplate which embrace whisky distilleries in Scotland, from a wide range of operators. I’ll begin with day journeys, after which share some multi-day journeys as nicely.


Whisky Excursions from Edinburgh


Whisky Excursions from Glasgow

  • This non-public full day tour is offered for a number of places round Scotland and may be completely customised to fulfill your wants
  • This 1 day small group tour from Glasgow visits Deanston Distillery, Glengoyne Distillery and Auchentoshan Distillery
  • This full day small group tour from Glasgow visits the Clydeside Distillery and Loch Lomond, with an elective cruise on the Loch
  • This non-public tour from Glasgow may be customised, with a instructed itinerary together with Auchentoshan and Deanston distilleries


Whisky Excursions from Aberdeen


Whisky Excursions from Inverness

  • This full day small group tour from Inverness visits Glenfiddich Distillery in addition to Loch Morlich and the Cairngorms Nationwide Park
  • This full day small group tour from Inverness visits Benromach and Glenfiddich Distilleries, in addition to Elgin and Strathspey
  • This 1 day small group tour from Inverness visits the Talisker distillery on the Isle of Skye, in addition to photograph alternatives on the Fairy Swimming pools, Urquhart Fort and Eilean Donan Fort.
  • This whisky centered full day tour from Inverness visits Tomatin, Glen Moray, The Macallan, Aberlour and Glen Ord distilleries, and consists of entry and tastings in any respect of them


Multi-Day Whisky Excursions in Scotland

If you’d like a extra thorough immersion into the world of Scottish whisky, you may contemplate a multi-day whisky tour. These will allow you to expertise extra distilleries, in addition to see extra of what Scotland has to supply. Some instructed excursions are as follows.

One factor to say for all of the excursions is that tour schedules can change attributable to distillery operations or for different elements. As such, in case you are reserving a tour and need to go to a particular distillery, it’s value confirming it’s undoubtedly visiting the distillery!

Deanston Distillery


Whisky Distilleries in Scotland

I’ll now undergo among the whisky distilleries in Scotland you possibly can go to. To make this simpler to navigate, I’ve divided this up by standard locations in Scotland.

So in case you are visiting Edinburgh for instance, I’ve put some distilleries collectively you could go to simply as a day journey from Edinburgh. The place attainable, I’ve additionally included instructed guided excursions that embrace every of our really helpful distilleries.


Whisky Distilleries You Can Go to from Edinburgh

Edinburgh is likely one of the most well-known and standard cities to go to in Scotland. Nonetheless, it’s not residence to an incredible many whisky distilleries. Nonetheless, it’s a good base from which to go to a variety of Lowland distilleries, and there may be one operational distillery you possibly can go to within the metropolis, in addition to a superb whisky themed attraction.

Within the metropolis itself, you possibly can go to the Holyrood Distillery. This opened in 2019 in a former railway items shed, and is round 10-15 minutes stroll from town centre. As a result of it’s so new, their whisky remains to be maturing. Nonetheless, you possibly can tour the distillery and study concerning the whisky making course of.

One other glorious possibility in Edinburgh metropolis centre is the Scotch Whisky Expertise. While they don’t really make whisky right here, it’s an incredible place to study concerning the historical past of whisky, how its made and the assorted areas and related flavours. The tour may be very interactive and loads of enjoyable. There’s additionally a superb tasting session, in addition to the chance to see the world’s largest whisky assortment. An excellent first-stop on any whisky tour of Scotland.

In the event you’d choose to go to an older working distillery, there are some glorious choices out there as a part of a day journey from Edinburgh. I wrote about one expertise visiting whisky distillers from Edinburgh right here.  I’d usually suggest reserving a guided tour with transport like this one should you plan on visiting distilleries exterior town so that you don’t want to fret about driving. Listed below are some distilleries and related whisky excursions from Edinburgh to contemplate.

  • Glengoyne Distillery – based in 1833, this picturesque distillery is one in every of our favorite whisky distilleries close to Edinburgh. It’s round a 90 minute drive to the west of Edinburgh, and presents tastings and excursions. Glengoyne is true on the border of the Highlands and Lowlands areas, and produces an unpeated Highland single malt utilizing conventional strategies. You possibly can go to it on this tour and this tour from Edinburgh.
  • Deanston Distillery – round an hours drive northwest of Edinburgh within the city of Doune, this distillery is present in an previous cotton mill which was transformed to a whisky distillery in 1966. Immediately it’s open for excursions and tastings of it’s Highland Single Malt. You possibly can go to it on this tour and this tour from Edinburgh.
  • Aberfeldy Distillery – slightly below two hours drive north of Edinburgh, this distillery was based in 1896. It produces three Highland single malts and is open for excursions and tastings. You possibly can go to it on this tour from Edinburgh.
  • The Glenturret Distillery – a few 90 minute drive to the north west of Edinburgh, this is likely one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland. Based in 1775, and surrounded by stunning landscapes, the distillery produces a variety of Highland single malts. To go to Glenturret distillery from Edinburgh you have to to rearrange your personal transport, or take a non-public customisable tour like this.
  • Glenkinchie Distillery – only a 35 minute drive to the south east of Edinburgh, this distillery creates Lowland single malts. It’s additionally branded as the house of Johnnie Walker, so lovers of that blended Scotch will certainly need to make a go to! You possibly can go to on this tour from Edinburgh.

So these are a few of our favorite distilleries you possibly can go to from Edinburgh. For extra inspiration on your go to to town, see our information to issues to do in Edinburgh, in addition to our favorite day journeys from Edinburgh.

Glengoyne Distillery


Whisky Distilleries You Can Go to from Glasgow

Glasgow is Scotland’s largest metropolis, discovered round an hour to the west of Edinburgh. Like Edinburgh, it’s additionally within the Lowlands whisky area. The town itself was as soon as residence to over 100 whisky distilleries!

Immediately, there are solely two whisky distilleries in Glasgow itself. Each are comparatively new, however each are open for guests. There are additionally fairly a number of inside simple attain of town on a day journey. Listed below are some whisky distilleries we predict you need to contemplate visiting whenever you’re in Glasgow.

  • The Clydeside Distillery – this lowland whisky distillery opened in Glasgow on the banks of the River Clyde in 2018. It’s a splendidly picturesque location, and the tour is a improbable technique to study all of the completely different Scottish whisky areas, in addition to attempt some whiskies from completely different areas. This one is simple to get to from Glasgow metropolis centre, both on foot, or on Glasgow’s Hop on Hop off bus. It’s additionally included on today tour to Loch Lomond.
  • Glasgow Distillery – opened in 2014, this was the primary unbiased single malt whisky distillery to function in Glasgow for over 100 years. They provide a variety of lowland single malts, in addition to gin and vodka. Excursions are supplied however not as frequently so you should definitely verify forward. It’s situated round 40 minutes by public transport to the west of town centre.
  • Auchentoshan Distillery – about ten miles west of Glasgow, this distillery has been producing whisky since 1823. It’s identified for it’s clean triple distilled lowland single malt, which has a extra delicate, candy flavour than many different whiskies. It’s open for excursions, and may be reached by public transport or automobile from Glasgow. You may also go to on this group day tour, or you possibly can take this non-public tour which incorporates Auchentoshan.
  • Tullibardine Distillery – discovered round a 45 minute drive to the north east of Glasgow, this highland distillery has been producing whisky since 1949. It’s open for excursions, and you’ll go to it on this non-public tour from Glasgow.

You may also go to Deanston and Glengoyne Distilleries from Glasgow. This tour of Glengoyne additionally features a go to to Loch Lomond, while this tour visits Deanston, Glengoyne and Auchentoshan.

In the event you’re searching for extra inspiration on your go to to Glasgow, see our information to issues to do in Glasgow, in addition to our information to day journeys from Glasgow.

Clydeside distillery Glasgow


Whisky Distilleries You Can Go to from Aberdeen

Discovered within the north east of Scotland, town of Aberdeen doesn’t all the time make the shortlist of locations to go to for people visiting Scotland. Which is a disgrace, because it has a wealth of sights, an incredible meals scene, is surrounded by improbable castles, and is a leaping off level for the North East 250 driving route.

While Aberdeen is inside the Highlands whisky area, it’s additionally fairly near one in every of Scotland’s most well-known whisky producing areas—Speyside. Because of this, there are many whisky distilleries you possibly can go to from Aberdeen! Listed below are some to contemplate:

  • Glen Garioch Distillery – probably the most easterly of all of the Scottish distilleries, that is additionally the closest whisky distillery to Aberdeen at a 30 minute drive away. It’s been distilling Highland single malt whisky since 1797 and is open for excursions and tastings. You possibly can take a bus from Aberdeen which takes round an hour, or you possibly can go to it on a customized non-public whisky tour like this.
  • Strathisla Distillery – established in 1786, that is the oldest repeatedly working distillery within the Scottish Highlands. They produce a highland single malt, and are additionally considered the house of Chivas Regal, one of many world’s hottest blends. You possibly can go to on this tour from Aberdeen.
  • The Macallan Distillery – one of many world’s hottest single malt whisky manufacturers, The Macallan has been distilling Speyside whisky since 1824. A spectacular new customer centre was opened in 2019, and the fashionable constructing is nearly well worth the worth of the tour alone. It’s open for excursions and tastings, and you’ll go to on this non-public tour from Aberdeen.
  • Cardhu Distillery – this Speyside distillery has been creating single malt whiskies since 1824. It was additionally the primary distillery to be purchased by the Johnnie Walker firm.  You possibly can go to on this non-public tour from Aberdeen
  • The Glenlivet Distillery – working since 1824, the Glenlivet is the most well-liked single malt whisky within the USA. They produce a variety of Speyside single malts, and supply excursions and tastings. You possibly can go to the Glenlivet distillery on this non-public tour from Aberdeen.

Truthfully, that is only a small pattern of the distilleries you could go to from Aberdeen. With over 50 distilleries to select from inside a 2 hour drive of Aberdeen, you will be spoilt for selection.

We will additionally suggest taking the time to go to the Speyside Cooperage when you find yourself within the Speyside space, the place you possibly can study all concerning the artwork of picket barrel restoration – a key a part of the whisky making course of. You possibly can go to as a part of a tour like this.

There’s additionally tons extra to do in and round Aberdeen after all. See our detailed information to issues to do in Aberdeen in addition to our favorite day journeys from Aberdeen for some inspiration.

Cardhu Distillery


Whisky Distilleries You Can Go to from Inverness

Described because the capital of the Highlands, Inverness is one other great metropolis to discover in Scotland. It’s the beginning level of the spectacular North Coast 500 driving route, and can be very near Scotland’s well-known Loch Ness.

Inverness can be near an incredible many whisky distilleries. These embrace distilleries within the Highland area and the Speyside area. The truth is, of all of the cities in our information, Inverness in all probability has probably the most whisky distilleries surrounding it. Listed below are a number of to contemplate visiting.

  • Glenfiddich Distillery – at the moment the world’s hottest single malt whisky, a go to to Speyside’s Glenfiddich distillery is unquestionably on the want checklist of many guests to Scotland. They produce a variety of Speyside single malts, and excursions and tastings can be found. You possibly can go to Glenfiddich on  this group tour and this group tour, in addition to on this non-public tour.
  • Glen Ord Distillery – the one distillery on the Black Isle, Glen Ord has been producing whisky since 1838. They’re additionally one of many whisky distilleries that produces the favored Singleton model single malt whiskies for the Diageo drinks firm. You possibly can go to Glen Ord on this group tour and this group tour from Inverness.
  • Dalmore Distillery – 30 minutes drive from Inverness (or an hour by bus), Dalmore distillery has been producing highland single malt whisky since 1839. It’s open for excursions, and may be visited on this three day tour from Inverness.
  • Tomatin Distillery – 25 minutes drive to the south of Inverness (additionally accessible by public bus), it’s believed that whisky has been distilled on this location because the 16th century. The distillery was based in 1897, and produces a variety of single malt whiskies. It’s open for excursions and tastings, and you’ll go to on this small group tour from Inverness.
  • Dalwhinnie Distillery – discovered up within the Scottish highlands, round an hours drive south of Inverness (approx. 90 minutes by practice), Dalwhinne is the very best distillery in Scotland you could go to. It was based in 1898, and is technically in each the Highland and Speyside whisky areas, though Dalwhinne refers to its whisky as Highland whisky. It’s open for excursions, and may be visited on this three day tour from Inverness.
  • Dallas Dhu Distillery – final on our checklist of distilleries you possibly can go to from Inverness is Dallas Dhu. This was a working distillery from 1899 till 1983, and has since been changed into a centre showcasing the craft, historical past, and traditions of Scottish whisky making. Nice for these within the historical past of whisky making.

You may also go to different distilleries we’ve already talked about in our part on Aberdeen. For instance, this tour from Inverness consists of the Macallan and Aberlour distilleries (together with a number of extra!), and this tour consists of Glenlivet and Benromach distilleries.

You might be undoubtedly spoilt for selection when it come to whisky distilleries close to Inverness!

There’s additionally lots to do in and across the metropolis. See our information to day journeys from Inverness and our information to visiting Loch Ness for extra inspiration.


Whisky Distilleries on the North Coast 500

The North Coast 500 is one in every of Scotland’s most well-known driving routes, and one we’ve pushed many instances. You possibly can see our information to planning an NC500 journey right here, in addition to a instructed 5 day NC500 itinerary and seven day NC500 itinerary. In the event you’re searching for a tour of the NC500, we suggest this one departing from Inverness.

The excellent news for whisky lovers is that there are a selection of whisky distilleries alongside the NC500. These are primarily alongside the east coast of the route, between Inverness and Thurso. I feel we’ve visited all the ones open to the general public.

Listed below are some you possibly can go to:

  • Wolfburn Distillery – discovered within the city of Thurso, and probably the most northerly distillery on mainland Scotland, Wolfburn was initially based in 1822. Nonetheless, it closed in 1877, and solely reopened in 2013. They don’t have a proper customer centre, however you possibly can go to and get a improbable fingers on tour of the workings of the distillery, accompanied by tastings.
  • Pulteney Distillery – situated in Wick in far northeastern Scotland, Pulteney began producing Previous Pulteney highland single malt whisky on this location in 1826. Immediately they’ve a full customer expertise together with a variety of whiskies to style.
  • Clynelish Distillery – simply over an hours drive north of Inverness close to the city of Brora, Clynelish distillery was initially established in 1819 as a whisky distillery. It produces a single malt, and can be the place an incredible share of the whisky that goes into Johnnie Walker is produced. As well as, among the rarest whisky on this planet, Brora, was additionally produced on web site for a variety of years. As such, there’s loads of whisky historical past right here, making this place to go to for whisky lovers. Excursions and tastings can be found.
  • Glenmorangie Distillery – one of many world’s hottest single malt whiskies, Glenmorangie, is discovered alongside the North Coast 500 route round 45 minutes drive north of Inverness. Opened in 1843, Glenmorangie is a highland distillery identified for having the tallest stills in Scotland. It’s open for excursions and tastings.
  • GlenWyvis Distillery – present in Dingwall, half an hour from Inverness, Glenwyvis was based in 2015. It’s the primary distillery in Dingwall since 1926. At present, Glenwyvis produces each whisky and gin, and you’ll take guided excursions of their operation.

In fact, there are extra distilleries within the space you could go to earlier than or after your NC500 expertise, together with the Speyside distilleries and the opposite Highland area distilleries round Inverness.

Pulteney Distillery


Whisky Distilleries on Skye

Skye is probably the most visited of the Scottish islands. It’s famed for its stunning landscapes, however it’s additionally the house of a small variety of Scottish whisky distilleries which you’ll be able to go to, which fall inside the Highlands whisky area. These are as follows:

  • Talisker Distillery – based in 1830 and tucked away on a fantastic bay on the Isle of Skye, Talisker is probably the most well-known of Skye’s distilleries. They make a variety of highland single malts, and supply excursions and tastings. You possibly can go to Talisker on this tour from Inverness, or this tour from Portree.
  • Torabhaig Distillery – Skye’s latest, and at the moment, solely different distillery is Torabhaig. This began distilling in early 2017, and is now open for excursions and tastings. A very good possibility in case you are searching for a quieter whisky distillery expertise on Skye.

In the event you would favor to flee the crowds of Skye (it’s a standard place!) you then may contemplate taking the 20 minute ferry from Skye to the Isle of Raasay. In addition to having a extra peaceable and laid again really feel, whisky lovers will likely be happy to listen to Raasay now has it’s personal distillery – the Isle of Raasay Distillery.

This solely began distilling whisky in 2017, however it’s open for excursions and tasting, and even has some beautiful ensuite rooms if you wish to keep in a single day.

For extra concepts on what to do on Skye, see our information to images places on Skye, in addition to our information to escaping the crowds on the Isle of Skye. We even have a instructed 5 day Scottish Highlands and Isle of Skye itinerary.

Torabhaig Distillery


Whisky Distilleries on Islay

For a comparatively small island, Islay certain has loads of whisky distilleries. At it’s peak there have been really 23 distillers on Islay! Immediately this has lowered considerably, though there are nonetheless a formidable 9 energetic distilleries on the island.

The whisky of Islay is known for it’s closely peated flavour, and the isle types its personal whisky area. Nonetheless, not all of the whiskies of Islay are fairly so robust, so I feel you’ll discover a whisky that matches your palate.

Listed below are among the whisky distilleries you possibly can go to on Islay.

  • Laphroaig Distillery – my favorite Scotch whisky, this has a closely peated flavour. Some have likened the style to petroleum! Established in 1815, Laproaig is likely one of the greatest identified Islay whiskies. I actually loved the tour of the distillery, which incorporates the malting ground, peat kiln and scrumptious tastings after all.
  • Lagavulin Distillery – a mile alongside the coast from Laphroaig is Lagavulin, one other whisky famed for it’s robust smoked peat flavour. This was based in 1816. Excursions and tastings can be found.
  • Ardbeg Distillery – a mile from Lagavulin (that means there are three distilleries inside two miles of one another on the coast right here) is the Ardbeg distillery, which was based in 1815. Once more, it’s well-known for it robust peat smoke flavour. It may be visited for excursions and tastings.
  • Kilchoman Distillery– based in 2015, Kilchoman is the most recent distillery on the island. It’s additionally the one unbiased distillery, and is uncommon in that it grows and malts all its personal grain on web site. So if you wish to see a real subject to bottle whisky distillery, Kilchoman could be a sensible choice! Open for excursions and tastings.
  • Bowmore Distillery – from the most recent distillery, to the oldest working distillery on Islay. Bowmore was based in 1779, making it one of many oldest distilleries in Scotland. They produce a variety of single malt whiskies with a reasonably clean peat flavour. It’s open for excursions and tastings.

In the event you keep in Port Ellen, you possibly can simply stroll or take the general public bus alongside the coast to Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg distilleries. There are additionally a variety of tour operators on the island who supply excursions of the distilleries, comparable to Islay Whisky Excursions and Islay Taxis. Alternatively, you possibly can take a multi-day tour to Islay like this or like this from Edinburgh.

From Islay, it’s additionally a ten minute trip to the wild and sparsley populated Isle of Jura, the place you possibly can go to the Jura distillery. Extra on this in our subsequent part, however Jura is nicely value visiting for its great mountaineering and wildlife watching alternatives.

There’s tons extra to see on Islay than whisky distilleries after all. For some concepts see our full information to issues to do on Islay, which covers all of the highlights in addition to numerous sensible data for planning your go to.

Lagavulin Distillery


Whisky Distilleries on Different Scottish Islands

In fact, there are numerous extra islands across the Scottish mainland past Skye and Islay. A few of them have distilleries on them as nicely, and these fall into the Highland whisky area.

In the event you plan on visiting a few of Scotland’s different islands, listed below are among the distilleries you may contemplate together with in your itinerary. I’ve ordered these in a counter-clockwise path round Scotland, from the Isle of Arran within the south west to the Orkneys within the north east.

  • Lochranza distillery. Discovered on the Isle of Arran, Lochranza Distillery opened in 1995. It attracts on a wealthy historical past of whisky distilling on the island, however was the primary authorized distillery to open since 1837. Immediately it produces a variety of highland type single malt whiskies which aren’t peaty. It’s open for excursions and tastings.
  • Lagg distillery. Additionally discovered on the Isle of Arran, and opened in 2019, Lagg goals to supply a closely peated whisky. Lagg is the sister distillery of Lochranza, each are owned by the Isle of Arran Distillers firm. It’s open for excursions, with tastings additionally out there.
  • Isle of Jura distillery – a brief distance from the Isle of Islay, the wild Isle of Jura is residence to the Isle of Jura distillery. Initially based in 1810, the present distillery has been working since 1963. They produce a variety of single malt whiskies, each peaty and non-peated, so have one thing for each palate.
  • Tobermory distillery – discovered on the Isle of Mull, there’s been a distillery producing whisky right here since 1798, though it has seen closures and modifications in title over that point. Immediately, the Tobermory distillery produces each a peated and unpeated single malt whisky. It’s open for excursions and tastings.
  • Highland Park distillery – probably the most northerly single malt distillery on this planet, Highland Park is discovered within the city of Kirkwall on the Orkney Islands. They’ve been distilling whisky right here since 1798, and are at present some of the well-known single malt whisky manufacturers. The whisky is peated with Orkney peat, lending it a novel smokey flavour. It’s open for excursions and tastings.
  • Scapa distillery – the second distillery on the Orkney Islands is Scapa. Initially based in 1885, Scapa was reopened in 2004 and has been producing whisky ever since. Their single malt isn’t peated. It’s open at present for excursions and tastings.

HIghland Park Whisky Distillery


Map of Scottish Whisky Distilleries

That can assist you visualise all of the distilleries we’ve talked about, we’ve added all of them to the map under. You may also see this map on Google maps right here.

Map of Scottish Whisky Distilleries


Whiskey Inns in Scotland

As there may be a lot glorious whisky in Scotland, you may additionally need to plan your lodging to incorporate some properties that are identified for his or her in depth whisky collections. Right here, you’ll often be capable to select from a variety of whisky choices, and in addition chat with the bartender who will be capable to advise you on one thing you swimsuit your personal preferences.

Some accommodations may even do particular tastings, or be conveniently situated near (and even inside!) present distilleries. You may also discover accommodations and eating places that serve meals primarily based round whisky pairings.

Listed below are some choices to contemplate.

  • Dornoch Fort  – this 500 12 months previous fort makes for an incredible cease on the NC500 driving route. Whisky lovers will love its award profitable whisky bar, which is residence to a whole lot of malts. Tastings can be found.
  • Raasay Distillery Lodge – should you go to the Isle of Raasay, then you possibly can really keep in a distillery. The distillery can be a 4 star resort with beautiful rooms and naturally, an adequately stocked bar!
  • The Craigellachie – this nicely situated 19th century 4* Speyside resort hosts the Quaich bar, one in every of Scotland’s foremost whisky bars. With over 900 single malt whiskies out there from all over the world, you’re certain to search out one thing to swimsuit
  • The Torridon – one in every of our favorite luxurious accommodations on the NC500, the Torridon presents the right environment to get pleasure from a wee dram or two. And with over 300 malts readily available, in addition to knowledgable workers, you’ll haven’t any scarcity of selection! 
  • Glenmorangie Home – this 4* nation home resort, is owned and operated by the Glenmorangie Distillery, which is discovered Eight miles away. Followers of Glenmorangie will certainly need to attempt the various varieties they’ve on supply right here, and even contemplate reserving one in every of their whisky tasting weekends.
  • Gables Whisky B&B – discovered within the coronary heart of Speyside, this nicely rated B&B has a whisky lounge that includes virtually 500 bottle of single malt whisky. Tastings are after all out there!
  • Whisky Vaults – nicely situated for exploring Oban (and it’s distillery!) this townhouse resort presents snug lodging and a very good whisky bar
Torridon Hotel
Jess having fun with a cocktail on the Torridon bar – I had a whisky after all!


Additional Studying

Hopefully our information to Scottish whisky distilleries and whisky in Scotland has helped you intend your personal whisky tour of Scotland! We even have loads of different Scotland content material that we predict you will discover helpful in planning your journey round this excellent nation.

  • For Edinburgh, take a look at our 2 day Edinburgh itinerary, our information to issues to do in Edinburgh, and our information to one of the best day journeys from Edinburgh to get you began. We even have a information to getting from London to Edinburgh.
  • For Glasgow, see our Glasgow and Loch Lomond itinerary, our information to the greatest day journeys from Glasgow, and our information to issues to do in Glasgow
  • For Aberdeen, we now have a information to issues to do in Aberdeen, our favorite eating places in Aberdeen, a instructed 2 day Aberdeen itinerary and a information to the greatest day journeys from Aberdeen.
  • From Aberdeen it’s also possible to deal with the North East 250! It is a newer driving route which covers spectacular surroundings, many Speyside distilleries, and the great Moray Firth shoreline. See our Three day NE250 itinerary for recommendation on that one.
  • For extra street journey inspiration, take a look at our detailed information to the North Coast 500 and North Coast 500 Lodging Information, in addition to my images highlights on the North Coast 500 for some inspiration on your journey. In the event you’d like an itinerary for the North Coast 500, take a look at our detailed 7 Day North Coast 500 tenting itinerary.
  • Now we have a information to Loch Ness in addition to a few of our different favorite day journeys from Inverness for some inspiration. We even have some detailed guides to different points of interest close to Inverness, together with a information to the Black Isle and tips about visiting the Cairngorms 
  • We’ve received an itinerary for visiting Skye and the Highlands
  • In the event you’re driving within the UK for the primary time, take a look at my ideas for driving within the UK for some recommendation. We even have a information to how a lot it prices to journey within the UK.
  • For wider UK journey planning, we now have instructed one week and two week UK itineraries as a starter, plus tons extra UK content material that will help you plan your journey.
  • In the event you’d like a guidebook on your time visiting Scotland, we suggest the Rick Steves’ Scotland information

A detailed guide to whisky distilleries in Scotland. How whisky is made, the best whisky distilleries you can visit, and distillery tours.

And that’s it! As all the time, we’re comfortable to listen to your suggestions and reply any questions you might need. Simply tell us within the feedback under!

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