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Grand Whisky Trail

Grand Whisky Trail

Introduction

Time: All Year

Accommodation: First Class Accommodation

Start Date: 7 Nights / 8 Days

Group Size: Singles, Couples, Families and Small Groups

Visiting the two most important regions for malt whisky production and savour the contrasting flavours. Taste both the peaty whiskies of Islay and the famous whiskies of Speyside. This tour takes you to the attractions and distilleries in two beautiful regions of the country.

Profile

The aim of this tour is to give you a taste of the two most famous areas for malt whisky, the remote island of Islay on the west coast with a choice of nine distilleries to visit and Speyside, the home of malt whisky on the eastern side of the Highlands. This area has more malt whisky distilleries than any other part of Scotland and Speyside has everything required for whisky production, from the barley grown on the coastal plains to the rivers and springs which feed the distilleries. 

The distilleries you visit are up to you. This tour is totally flexible so, if you have a favourite malt, let us know.

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Why not create your own tour? As with all our tours the attractions you see will take account of your interests and can be adapted to what you want to see. So, if you want to see places not on the list below, just let us know. Complete our enquiry form to find out more »


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Itinerary

Day 1: Ferry - Caol Ila - Bunnahabhain

Day 1: Ferry - Caol Ila - Bunnahabhain

We travel past beautiful Loch Lomond and Loch Fyne, famous for its oysters, to the port of Kennacraig, where we catch a ferry to Islay. Passing through the Sound of Islay, we arrive at Port Askaig where we stop at the distillery of CAOL ILA, nestling in a cove near the port. The pear-shaped stills and wash stills like flat onions are housed in a building dating back to 1879. Then to BUNNAHABHAIN, the most hidden of the Islay distilleries. It is so close to the sea that a kerb has been built to stop cars from rolling into the sea. We sample the sweet whisky tasting of Dundee cake, toasted nuts and sea breezes.

Day 2: Ardbeg - Lagavulin - Laphroaig

Day 2: Ardbeg - Lagavulin - Laphroaig

At the southern tip of the island is ARDBEG, a distillery originally run by smugglers and famous for its peaty flavours. The Old Kiln restaurant here is a venue used by French writer-cook Martine Nouet who writes in Whisky Magazine. LAGAVULIN means “the hollow where the mill is” and this distillery is commanded by the ruins of Dunyveg Castle, once the stronghold of the Lords of the Isles. Neighbouring distillery LAPHROAIG has the most medicinal of malts. “Love it or hate it” says their advertising slogan. Its founder died by falling into one of the vats in 1847.

Day 3: Bruichladdich - Bowmore - Ferry

Day 3: Bruichladdich - Bowmore - Ferry

BRUICHLADDICH is Scotland’s most westerly distillery. It still uses much of the original equipment dating from 188 - the great iron mash tun and the Oregon pine wash backs. Stopping at BOWMORE, the capital of Islay, but barely more than a hamlet, we visit the famous Bowmore Vaults, where the whisky spends decades below sea level in damp cellars. From here, we return by ferry to the mainland and drive along the coast through one of the most historic landscapes in the world; KILMARTIN GLEN. Here there are 150 prehistoric sites and over 200 other ancient monuments.

Day 4: Ben Nevis - Urquhart - Loch Ness

Day 4: Ben Nevis - Urquhart - Loch Ness

BEN NEVIS distillery is overlooked by Britain’s tallest mountain, Ben Nevis. It is one of the oldest distilleries, established in 1825. Incorporated in the visitors centre is the Legend of the Dew and the mythical giant, Hector McDram. North of Ben Nevis is Loch Ness and the ruined URQUHART CASTLE. This is one of the largest castles in Scotland with spectacular views across LOCH NESS and the Great Glen. It dates back to 597AD and has a turbulent history – once a stronghold of the MacDonald family. You can take a short cruise along the home of the legendary monster, first sighted by St Columba in the C6th.

Day 5: Aberlour - Macallan

Day 5: Aberlour - Macallan

Today, we begin a three day SPEYSIDE whisky extravaganza in the home of malt whisky. Two in depth tours will help you appreciate the complexes of whisky production. First ABERLOUR, their well respected whiskies and have full flavours of nutmeg and spice. You have the opportunity to hand-fill your own personally labelled bottle. The MACALLAN is Speyside’s best known heavyweight. Their fine collection of old whiskies range in price from $110 to$33,000 per bottle. Following an in depth tour of the distillery, you will have the opportunity to sample the oaky, resiny, sherried flavours of the whiskies.

Day 6: Cardhu - Cooperage - Glenfiddich

Day 6: Cardhu - Cooperage - Glenfiddich

CARDHU (Gaelic for “black rock”) is the only malt distillery pioneered by a woman, Helen Cummings, who distilled illegally on a family farm. The whisky is light, with a lingering sweetness and is an easy drinking malt. At SPEYSIDE COOPERAGE you can see skilled coopers and apprentices practising their ancient craft. GLENFIDDICH lies on the River Fiddich, which means ‘valley of the deer’. The whisky is principally aged in plain oak and sherry casks and the house style is of a raisiny, chocolatey flavour. Glenfiddich was one of the first distilleries to sell whisky as a single malt in 1963 when blended whiskies were the norm.

Day 7: Glenfarclas - Ballindalloch - Glenlivet

Day 7: Glenfarclas - Ballindalloch - Glenlivet

GLENFARCLAS, boasts is biggest in Speyside and is owned by J.&G. Grant, a family run company. The house style is a complex, malty, sherryish flavour and the whiskies are regarded by locals as some of the best in Speyside. If time permits, we see BALLINDALLOCH CASTLE, one of the most beautiful and renowned castles in Scotland, known as the Pearl of the North. GLENLIVET is the biggest selling malt in the USA and although it may be considered commonplace, it is a whisky of structure and complexity, with a flowery, peachy style and the distillery is located in a particularly scenic area.

Day 8: Dalwhinnie - Blair Castle - Edradour

Day 8: Dalwhinnie - Blair Castle - Edradour

Passing Aviemore to the DALWHINNIE distillery, one of the highest in Scotland at 1073 feet on the upper reaches of the Spey River. Its name means “meeting place” and it lies on the main whisky smuggling route from the highlands to the Lowlands. BLAIR CASTLE, contains the pipes of Bonnie Prince Charlie and in 1844 Queen Victoria conferred on its owners the right to maintain a private army. In the nearby Pitlochry, the smallest distillery in Scotland, EDRADOUR, working on a farmhouse scale since the beginning of legal whisky production in the Highlands in 1825. From here, we return to Edinburgh or Glasgow.


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