If you happen to’re planning on driving Scotland’s most well-known driving route, the North Coast 500, you may additionally be questioning if there are any whisky distilleries on the North Coast 500.
We’re delighted to have the ability to let you know that sure, there are a variety of whisky distilleries alongside the route. Many of those are open for excursions and tastings, and make for a fantastic cease in your journey.
We’ve had the pleasure of driving Scotland’s North Coast 500 route many instances, and as Laurence loves whisky, we’ve visited many of the distilleries alongside the route. We’ve additionally written plenty of guides to the route that will help you plan your personal journey. These embody a North Coast 500 planning information, a 5 day and seven day NC 500 itinerary, and an in depth 7 day tenting itinerary for the NC500.
We even have recommendations on the most effective resorts on the North Coast 500, our favorite B&Bs on the route, in addition to a information to all the most effective pictures places on the NC500. Suffice to say, we predict we’ve put collectively fairly a complete collection of posts on this superb street journey!
On this put up, we’re including to our North Coast 500 content material with a information to all of the whisky distilleries you may go to alongside the NC500. Scotch whisky is one among Laurence’s favorite drinks, and we’ve already put collectively an in depth information to our favorite whisky distilleries in Scotland.
On this put up, we’ll be focusing completely on the whisky distilleries on the North Coast 500 that you may go to. Earlier than we begin, a fast overview of whisky.
An Overview of Scotch Whisky
This part will present a really transient overview of Scotch Whisky. For extra element, see our information to whisky distilleries in Scotland, which has rather more detailed data on how whisky is made, the historical past of whisky and plenty of different details.
What’s Scotch Whisky?
Scotch Whisky is a spirit made in Scotland. For a drink to be formally referred to as a Scotch whisky, it have to be made out of water and malted barley, be distilled in a pot nonetheless at a Scottish distillery, and be matured in an oak cask in Scotland for at the very least three years. It should even have an alcohol content material of 40%.
Is it Whisky or Whiskey?
Scotch Whisky is spelt with out the “e” in Scotland. Whiskey with an “e” normally refers to Irish or American whiskey. Whisky from Japan is normally spelt the identical as from Scotland.
How is Scotch Whisky Made?
Making Scotch whisky is a 5 step course of, as follows:
- Malting – barley seeds are partially germinated to create sugars
- Mashing – the malted barley is combined with heat water to extract the sugar
- Fermentation – the sugary water is combined with yeast to supply alcohol
- Distillation – the alcoholic water is heated and the alcohol vapors are condensed to extract the spirit
- Maturation – the sturdy spirit is positioned in oak casks for at the very least three years to develop the whisky flavour
There are a variety of various kinds of Scotch whisky, with essentially the most generally recognized being single malt and blended. Single malt whisky have to be produced at a single distillery, while a blended whisky is made up of plenty of whiskies from totally different distilleries. Nevertheless, the method for making the whisky is identical.
Once more, this course of is roofed in rather more element in our full information to whisky distilleries in Scotland.
If you’re new to Scottish whisky, you may take into account reserving a tour on the Scotch Whisky Expertise in Edinburgh earlier than you go to any of the distilleries because it will provide you with a number of background on how it’s made, the various kinds of whisky, and the totally different whisky areas of Scotland.
What kind of Whisky is Produced alongside the North Coast 500?
Scotland is split into 5 Scotch whisky producing areas, and the North Coast 500 route is within the Highland whisky area. The distilleries right here produce each single malt and blended whiskies.
Single malt whisky from the Highland whisky area is normally described at fruity, candy, spicy and malty. Most highland whisky distilleries don’t use peat of their whisky manufacturing course of, so that you don’t get the sturdy smoky peat flavour that’s typically related to a whisky from the Islay area for instance.
Nevertheless, with virtually 50 distilleries within the Highland whisky area, and 9 on the North Coast 500, there’s clearly fairly a spread of flavours to find!
Can I go to the North Coast 500 Whisky Distilleries?
Sure, virtually all of them provide guided excursions, whisky tastings, and a present store the place you should purchase whisky on web site. in addition to a spot to style and buy whisky.
Nevertheless, be aware that many are closed for some a part of the 12 months because of cleanings, seasonality, and so forth so at all times examine forward earlier than visiting – some might require you to e book excursions prematurely
If you’re driving, nearly all of distilleries provide sealable takeaway cups so you may take pleasure in any samples on the finish of the day. Simply let your tour information know you’re driving and they’ll normally be more than pleased to oblige.
Now, let’s get on with our information to distilleries on the NC500.
Whisky Distilleries on the North Coast 500
This listing of distilleries options all of the whisky distilleries you may go to on the North Coast 500. It’s ordered within the order you’ll encounter the distilleries when you drove the route anti-clockwise, beginning and ending in Inverness. All of the distilleries within the listing are within the Highlands whisky area.
Now we have centered completely on whisky distilleries on this information, though there are additionally gin distilleries and breweries alongside the route as effectively!
Glen Ord Distillery
The Singleton of Glen Ord Distillery is the closest distillery to Inverness, and likewise the one working distillery on the Black Isle. The distillery was based in 1838 and took benefit of the big barley crop on the Black Isle to make its produce.
Right this moment, barley from the Black Isle remains to be utilized in manufacturing of Glen Ord single malt, with water from close by Loch nam Bonnach and Loch nan Eun.
The distillery, which is at this time owned by drinks large Diageo, primarily produces three single malt whiskies. These are a 12 12 months previous, a 15 12 months previous and an 18 12 months previous. Glen Ord single malt whisky is described as malty with a faint peat on the nostril, with a wealthy and fruity style.
Their single malt whiskies are primarily produced for export to Southeast Asia, so that you received’t typically see them on the market within the UK. As well as, a big share of the 11.5 million litres of whisky that Glen Ord produces is definitely utilized in Johnnie Walker blended malt.
The Glen Ord distillery is open 12 months spherical for excursions and tastings. You will discover out extra and e book prematurely on their web site right here.
From a 19th century whisky distillery to a model new 21st century whisky distillery! The group owned GlenWyvis distillery in Dingwall was based in 2017, making it Dingwall’s first whisky producer in 100 years.
The primary batch of whisky was put into casks in 2018. As Scotch whisky rules dictate that Scotch whisky have to be in a cask for no less than three years, the primary GlenWyvis whisky received’t be out there to style till 2021.
Not like the opposite distilleries on our listing, you may’t bodily go to GlenWyvis distillery but. Nevertheless, you may take a digital tour of the distillery, and we wished to incorporate it for that cause. It’s free to take action, and you’ll study all concerning the whisky making course of by means of the web tour, which you’ll discover right here.
Just some miles additional alongside the NC500 from the Black Isle and Dingwall is the Dalmore distillery. Based in 1838, the model is thought for its 12-pointed Royal Stag brand, which is used on Clan Mackenzie’s coat of arms. The rights to make use of this emblem have been granted to the clan in 1263, when the clan chief saved the then King from a charging stag.
Clan Mackenzie, who additionally owned the famed Eilean Donan fort, took possession of Dalmore distillery in 1867, bringing their stag emblem with them. The distillery was operated by the clan till it was bought to Whyte & Mackay in 1960.
Right this moment the Dalmore produces 4 most important single malt whiskies, a 12 12 months previous, a 15 12 months previous, an 18 12 months previous and a 25 12 months previous. There are additionally restricted version and particular version merchandise. The whisky flavour clearly varies by age, however is mostly described as wealthy, fruity and slightly chocolatey.
The Dalmore distillery is normally open for excursions and tastings, and you’ll see opening hours and costs on their web site right here.
Of all of the whisky distilleries on the North Coast 500, Glenmorangie might be essentially the most well-known. Their whisky is constantly among the best promoting single malt whisky manufacturers on the planet, and it’s a preferred distillery to go to. It’s also straightforward to go to as both a day journey from Inverness, or as a part of a North Coast 500 street journey.
Glenmorangie was based as a whisky distillery in 1843, though there are information of alcohol manufacturing on the location courting again to 1703. Right this moment, the distillery is owned by Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy.
Glenmorangie produces six million litres of single malt whisky yearly. Their most important vary consists of a 10 12 months previous, a 12 12 months previous, an 18 12 months previous, and a 25 12 months previous single malt whisky, though additionally they produce a spread of particular editions as effectively. The distillery is famous for having the tallest stills in Scotland. By way of flavour, anticipate citrus and vanilla with extra fruit within the Unique 10 12 months previous, with variations in different ages.
Glenmorangie is open for a spread of tastings and excursions, permitting you to pattern a spread of their whiskies. You will discover out extra about tour costs and opening hours on their web site right here.
Based in 1790, Balblair is the oldest distillery on the North Coast 500. It’s discovered on the Dornoch Firth, only a few miles inland from Glenmorangie.
The distillery because it operates at this time was inbuilt 1895 and makes use of the water from close by Ault Dearg burn for all of the whisky. It’s now owned by Inver Home distilleries, who additionally function plenty of different distilleries in Scotland, together with the Pulteney distillery on the NC500.
Balblair distillery produce a spread of single malts, beginning with a 12 12 months previous, and going by means of to a 25 12 months previous. Flavours embody spice, citrus, and floral notes.
Balblair is open for excursions and tastings, and you could find out extra and e book your go to right here.
Discovered round an hour’s drive north of Inverness, Clynelish Distillery has an fascinating historical past. A distillery by the identify of Clynelish was initially established on the location in 1819, though the distillery the bears the identify at this time was really inbuilt 1967 to deal with elevated demand.
Nevertheless, the “previous” Clynelish distillery continued to supply whisky, primarily to be used in blended whiskies. It additionally produced a single malt whisky beneath the identify Brora. Each distilleries continued to function till 1983, when the Brora distillery ceased manufacturing.
Right this moment, Brora whisky is a few of the rarest and costliest whisky on the planet.
Clynelist distillery at this time produces a single malt whisky, and is owned by drinks large Diageo. Diageo additionally owns Johnnie Walker, and 95% of the manufacturing at Clynelish really goes into Johnnie Walker blends.
There’s a number of whisky historical past right here, making this a very good place to go to for whisky lovers. Excursions and tastings can be found. Many different whiskies might be purchased right here as effectively, together with lots of the Johnnie Walker whiskies and different whisky manufacturers owned by Diageo reminiscent of Talisker, Lagavulin, Oban, and Dalwhinnie. So if you wish to get a style for whiskies from totally different areas, it is a good stopping level.
Lastly, the previous Clynelish distillery, which turned the Brora distillery, is at present present process an enormous renovation manufacturing. Diageo are spending round £35 million to deliver it again to life, and to start out producing whisky once more. Hopefully this can be open for excursions and tastings quickly!
You will discover out extra and e book your tour of Clynelish right here.
If you happen to’re overnighting within the city of Wick in your North Coast 500 journey, then you definitely’ll wish to make a cease on the Pulteney Distillery, which produces Outdated Pulteney single malt whisky.
Based in 1826, at this time the distillery produces a spread of whiskies, from a 12 12 months previous single malt by means of to a 25 12 months previous single malt, in addition to plenty of particular editions. Their whisky warehouses are uncovered to the wild sea air of Scotland’s north-eastern shoreline, which they are saying infuses their whisky with salty flavours.
Additionally they produce a whisky referred to as Huddart, which has peat smoke flavours, for many who choose this flavour profile which is extra generally related to the Islay whiskies.
The Pulteney distillery is open for excursions and tastings, and you’ll see opening instances and tour costs on their web site right here.
Discovered within the city of Thurso, the Wolfburn Distillery is essentially the most northerly distillery on mainland Scotland. Initially based in 1822, Wolfburn Distillery closed operations in 1877. The brand new distillery, constructed from the bottom up, opened in 2013.
Wolfburn Distillery is definitely one of many newer distilleries on the North Coast 500, however they do have already got plenty of whiskies out there. While they’re comparatively younger for single malts, they’re nonetheless easy and flavourful. I significantly loved the Morven, which has a touch of peat.
Wolfburn distillery don’t have a proper customer centre, however you may go to and get a incredible fingers on tour of the workings of the distillery, accompanied by tastings.
If you happen to take a look at our map of whisky distilleries on the North Coast 500, you’ll discover that almost all are on the east coast of Scotland. That is largely right down to extra handy transport hyperlinks – the older distilleries on this space have been usually constructed to be near rail strains so their whisky could possibly be simply distributed.
Scotland’s north west is a way more rugged and wild surroundings, making distribution of whisky tougher.
If you’re on the lookout for a whisky distillery on the west coast of the NC500 route, your solely possibility in the mean time is the Badachro Distillery. It is a tiny household run distillery which was launched in 2017, and which produces hand crafted gin. 2020 marked their first whisky launch, but it surely’s price noting that this isn’t really distilled on web site, quite, they’ve sourced single malt whisky from an unnamed highland distillery and bottled it.
Nonetheless, you may go to and study their on-site gin distillation. Extra details about excursions and tastings right here.
Map of Whisky Distilleries on the North Coast 500
Right here’s a map of all of the whisky distilleries on the North Coast 500, together with the NC500 route map, so you may plan your whisky stops accordingly. You too can see this map on-line right here.
Different Nice Whisky Stops alongside the North Coast 500
There are a variety of different nice whisky associated stops alongside the North Coast 500. Now we have two nice choices that you simply may take into account the place you may strive whisky along with (or as a substitute of) visiting the precise distilleries.
We suggest both the Dornoch fort whisky bar or the Torridon Lodge whisky bar. These each have a incredible choice of whiskies from throughout Scotland, and educated employees who may help you navigate the big selection of whiskies out there. They’re additionally each nice locations to remain in a single day alongside the route.
The place to Purchase Whisky On-line?
If you happen to’re on the lookout for a whisky as a memento of your journey, or maybe in preparation of your journey, then you’ve just a few choices.
First, we suggest you try The Whisky Store. They’ve plenty of retail places across the UK, in addition to a web-based retailer, and so they provide an enormous vary of whiskies. Naturally, these embody whiskies from lots of the North Coast 500 whisky distilleries.
Subsequent, you may strive Amazon. Amazon additionally has an intensive vary of whiskies you may order on-line.
After all, as you drive the route all of the distilleries we point out have retailers so you may also decide one up as you go direct from the distillery!
Hopefully this information to NC500 whisky distilleries has given you some concepts for locations to cease once you drive the NC500, or once you’re exploring northern Scotland generally. If you’re heading to this a part of the world, we predict you’ll additionally discover a few of the following content material helpful that will help you plan your journey and get inspiration.
- Now we have a information to all our favorite whisky distilleries in Scotland, which additionally has a lot of data on how whisky is made, the totally different Scottish whisky areas, and extra.
- Our final information to planning a North Coast 500 journey
- Jess’s detailed information to the place to remain on the North Coast 500 which has lodging choices for each a part of the route. We even have a information to the finest B&B’s on the North Coast 500
- My detailed information to all of the highlights of the North Coast 500, to make sure you don’t miss something on the route, in addition to my favorite pictures spots on the North Coast 500, which additionally has some pictures suggestions to your journey.
- For a shorter journey, see our 5 day North Coast 500 itinerary. We even have an in depth 7 day NC500 tenting itinerary
- The North Coast 500 has a number of single monitor roads – see our recommendation for easy methods to drive on single tracks roads that will help you put together when you’re not conversant in these.
- If you happen to’ve by no means pushed within the UK earlier than, see our information to driving within the UK for some suggestions.
- For finances planning, see our information to how a lot it prices to journey within the UK
- If you happen to’re driving the North Coast 500 as a part of an extended go to to the UK, try a few of our different guides to each Scotland, and England.
- Searching for extra street journey inspiration? Try our information to the world’s finest street journeys for extra concepts!
- For Edinburgh, try our 2 day Edinburgh itinerary, our information to issues to do in Edinburgh, and our information to the most effective 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 finest day journeys from Glasgow, and our information to issues to do in Glasgow
- For Aberdeen, we’ve got a information to issues to do in Aberdeen, our favorite eating places in Aberdeen, a urged 2 day Aberdeen itinerary and a information to the finest day journeys from Aberdeen.
- From Aberdeen you may also 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.
- If you want a information e book to your journey, try the Tough Information to the North Coast 500, in addition to Rick Steves Scotland e book
And that’s it! We hope you loved this put up. As at all times, we’re blissful to listen to suggestions and reply any questions. Simply pop them within the feedback under and we’ll get again to you as quickly as we are able to.