As the spiritual home of whisky, Scotland has some superb distillery tours.
If you are looking for whisky, you have come to the right place. Scotland is the world’s biggest producer of whisky (and has been for at least a century); and with more than 120 active distilleries dotted all around the country, there are countless opportunities to find out more about the whisky-making process while tasting the local spirit in its spiritual home. Here are 10 of the finest distillery tours and tastings Scotland offers amateurs and connoisseurs alike.
The world’s most popular single malt whisky and one of the most famous stops on the Malt Whisky Trail, Glenfiddich is a bona fide Scotch superstar. As you would expect, it has a visitor center to suit its status. Knowledgeable guides offer a range of tours and tastings, from the one-and-a-half-hour Explorers Tour with regular range tastings to the extensive half-day Pioneers Tour, which includes rare cask tastings and your choice of a bottle to take home. There is also a lovely bar-restaurant and a souvenir-stuffed shop.
It may no longer be Scotland’s northernmost distillery (that title now belongs to Shetland Reel), but it remains one of Scotland’s finest. The Highland Park distillery was founded in Orkney more than 220 years ago and has since won countless global awards for its peat-heavy, Viking-themed spirits. Take a tour to learn about Highland Park’s long history and precise distillation process and to taste their wares.
For lovers of peaty whiskies, the Laphroaig distillery is a place of pilgrimage, as Islay’s most distinctive single malt is renowned for its smoky flavor and smooth finish. Take a tour of the distillery, which includes great views of the coast and its iconic pagoda-style chimney, and then enjoy a dram or three in the cozy whisky bar.
A sparkling new visitor center welcomes guests to the world of The Macallan, which has been produced here for nigh on two centuries. One of the world’s most popular single malts, The Macallan collection is matured in a mix of bourbon oak and oak sherry casks, making for a heady blend of perfumed, spicy, and sweet drams. Splash out on the Peerless Spirit Experience for an exclusive tour and rare dram tastings.
Founded in 1824, The Glenlivet was the first licensed distillery anywhere in the Highlands, and it’s been in operation almost continually since. The signature 12-year-old’s smooth, lightly fruity style makes it the biggest selling single malt in the United States, while the full collection features experimental sherry-cask whiskies, light peaty drams, and white oak reserves. Try them all on a visit to the distillery. And for a one-of-a-kind experience, book the three-hour Whisky Food Safari, which is a tutored tasting with lunch.
Glen Grant Distillery
A perennial Speyside favorite, Glen Grant Distillery is renowned for three things: it was the first Scottish distillery to be electrically powered; it’s surrounded by beautiful gardens that feature fast-flowing rivers and placid lily ponds; and it consistently produces excellent award-winning whisky.
Isle of Arran Distillers
Located on the southwestern Isle of Arran, this distillery only began producing whisky in 1995, but it has quickly gained an enviable reputation for its fresh, sweet, and spicy single malts. Choose from a series of distillery tours and whisky tastings, and then enjoy a light lunch at CASKS Cafe with a view of the surrounding hills.
A special distillery with an equally special view, Bunnahabhain sits on the northeastern shore of Islay looking across the sea to Jura. Along with its setting, the whisky is also one-of-a-kind—less peaty and more citrusy than its neighbors—and you can try it yourself on a distillery tour.
For an off-the-beaten-path whisky tasting experience, look no further than Tobermory Distillery. Situated on the Isle of Mull, it has been producing whisky on and off since 1798. Today you can try its signature Ledaig single malt, as well as its unpeated Tobermory whisky, on a visit to its white-walled visitor center.
One of the Highlands’ best-known distilleries, Glenmorangie makes arguably the archetypal Speyside whisky: light, floral, and sweet. The distillery offers a range of experiences, including in-depth tours and tasting masterclasses, while there’s also the chance to stay overnight at the nearby Glenmorangie House.