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Island Hopping Whisky Tour

Island Hopping Whisky Tour

Introduction

Time: All Year

Accommodation: First Class Accommodation

Start Date: 11 Nights / 12 Days

Group Size: Any Group Size

The Scottish Islands stretch from the Shetlands in the far north, just 6 degrees south of the Arctic Circle, to the remote Western Isles, made from some of the oldest rocks on Earth. The dramatic landscapes are divided by countless rivers and lochs and the western coasts are edged by miles of sandy beaches. The Scottish Islands contain some of the best distillers of single malt whiskies in the world. Set on remote islands and in hidden coves, the Island Whisky Trail will introduce you to some of the most beautiful and romantic scenery in the world.

Profile

The aim of this tour is to give you a taste of the heritage and cultures of the Scottish Isles and a chance to visit the most remote malt whisky distilleries in Scotland. You will have the opportunity to experience the whole process, from the malting and mashing to fermentation, distillation, maturation and bottling. Many of the distilleries are in beautiful stunning locations and you will be able to explore the attractions and delights of the local villages and towns.  The distilleries and attractions you visit can be adapted to what you want to see.

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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: Edradour - Dalwhinnie - Macallan

Day 1: Edradour - Dalwhinnie - Macallan

From Edinburgh, we travel up the whisky smuggler’s route to Speyside, calling at EDRADOUR, Scotland’s smallest distillery, producing fine single malts on a farmhouse scale. Passing Blair Castle, where they have the pipes of Bonnie Prince Charlie, we stop at DALWHINNIE distillery, the highest in Scotland at 1073 feet. We are staying overnight in the Speyside area, the home of Scottish whisky. Time permitting, we can sample the delights of The MACALLAN distillery, with their famous oaky, resiny sherried flavour whiskies. This distillery provides an exceptionally good, interesting and detailed tour.

Day 2: Glenmorangie - Clynelish - Old Pultney

Day 2: Glenmorangie - Clynelish - Old Pultney

From Speyside we drive up the dramatic East coast to GLENMORANGIE, home of the biggest selling whisky in Scotland, overlooking the barley fields of the Black Isle. Then to CLYNELISH, standing on a landscaped hillside near the fishing and golf resort of Brora. Travelling further up towards John O’ Groats we stop at the OLD PULTENEY, the most northerly distillery on the mainland. It stands just a few yards from the harbour in the town of Wick, designed by Thomas Telford as a model fishing port. From here, we travel to Scrabster to catch the evening FERRY to Stromness, on Orkney.

Day 3: Highland Park - Orkney Prehistoric Sites

Day 3: Highland Park - Orkney Prehistoric Sites

Today we explore Orkney, beginning at the HIGHLAND PARK distillery where we try the distinctly heathery flavour captured from the island’s peat. Samples are taken from the oak casks, seasoned with Olorosso sherry. We explore the Norman cathedral of St MAGNUS, Orkney’s patron saint, before visiting some remarkable Neolithic treasures. These include the chambered tomb of MAES HOWE - the oldest stone house still standing in northern Europe and SKARA BRAE - a remarkably preserved village dating from 3,000BC. The RING OF BRODGAR is a wonderful stone circle between two lochs.

Day 4: Glen Ord - Dalmore

Day 4: Glen Ord - Dalmore

Back on the mainland, the MacKenzies Clan feature largely in the development of the GLEN ORD distillery. The family was granted lands in the west of Scotland by King Alexander III as early as 1263 and the distillery is situated in a village called Muir of Ord, meaning ’ the moor by the hill’. The whisky is still produced according to time honoured traditions and has a spicy, malty flavour with a dry finish. DALMORE boasts an unusual still-house and the warehouses are by the waters of Cromarty Firth. Most of the whiskies are finished in sherry butts producing a rich, marmalade flavour.

Day 5: Loch Ness - Urquhart - Eilean Donan

Day 5: Loch Ness - Urquhart - Eilean Donan

A sightseeing day as we make our way to the Isle of Skye. From the hills over Inverness there are superb views of LOCH NESS, home of the legendary monster. URQUHART CASTLE is Scotland’s largest and most well-known ruined castle. It was blown to pieces by government supporters in 1692 to prevent it from falling into Jacobite hands. Passing EILEAN DONAN, the most beautiful romantic castle in the country, we cross the bridge to the Isle of Skye. This is largest of the Inner Hebrides where we stay in Portree, meaning ‘Port of the King’, named after a visit by James V in 1540.

Day 6: Isle of Skye - Talisker - Dunvegan Castle

Day 6: Isle of Skye - Talisker - Dunvegan Castle

Skye is the most spectacular of the Scottish Island and we will drive around the scenic north of the island, an area known as THE TROTTERNISH. The OLD MAN OF STORR, a monolith rises 150 feet into the sky. Skye’s only distillery, is home of the volcanically powerful TALISKER malt. With its distinctively peppery character it is said to “explode on the palate”. The distillery uses traditional cooling coils or “worm tubs” which makes a fuller flavour than a modern condenser. DUNVEGAN CASTLE is the seat of the Clan Macleod before returning to Portree to sample the award winning seafood restaurants.

Day 7: Ferry - Ben Nevis - Highland Views

Day 7: Ferry - Ben Nevis - Highland Views

We begin by catching the ferry from Skye to Mallaig. Here we follow the magnificent route of the Jacobite steam train, made famous as the Hogwarts Express, from Mallaig to Fort William. We pass the GLENFINNAN MONUMENT, which celebrates those who rose in support of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745. On arriving at Fort William we visit the BEN NEVIS distillery, so called because it is overlooked by the tallest mountain in Britain. We stop to taste the fragrant, waxy fruitiness of the malts before visiting the COMMANDO MEMORIAL, an imposing monument with Ben Nevis in the background.

Day 8: Mull - Tobermory  - Castles

Day 8: Mull - Tobermory - Castles

Today, we drive down the west coast to catch the ferry to MULL. This is a wild and beautiful island with over 300 miles of dramatic scenic coastline and stunning beaches which rise to the peak of Mulls’ highest mountain Ben More at 3,000 feet. We visit the TOBERMORY distillery to sample their Iona whisky, named after the small Island where St Columba began his mission in Scotland in 563. We see the stunning castles of TOROSAY and DUART. Duart is the home of Clan Maclean and you visit the Banqueting Hall and State Rooms within the C13th keep.

Day 9: Oban - Jura - Caol Ila - Bunnahabhain

Day 9: Oban - Jura - Caol Ila - Bunnahabhain

From Mull, we cross to Oban, gateway to the Islands and home of the OBAN distillery, placed on the main street, facing the sea. Then the ferry to JURA, named after the Norse word for deer, where we sample whisky named after the Island’s most famous inhabitant, George Orwell. We leave Jura to arrive at Islay where we stop at the distillery of CAOL ILA, nestling in a cove near the port. Before arriving at your accommodation, we visit BUNNAHABHAIN, the most hidden of the Islay distilleries, which is so close to the sea that a kerb has been built to stop cars from rolling into the sea.

Day 10: Ardbeg - Laphroaig - Bowmore

Day 10: Ardbeg - Laphroaig - Bowmore

We start the morning at 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. 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. 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.

Day 11: Kintyre - Springbank - Arran

Day 11: Kintyre - Springbank - Arran

We take the ferry to Kennacraig and head down the narrow peninsula of KINTYRE, to Campeltown, perched by the headland known as the Mull of Kintyre, made famous in the song by Paul McCartney. Hanging from a narrow stretch of land only one mile wide, Kintyre is itself almost an island. Here we visit the SPRINGBANK distillery and discover the flavours of the Longrow and Hazelburn malts. The town has had almost 30 distilleries over the years. We travel up the East coast of the peninsula to Claonaig where we catch the ferry to Lochranza on the ISLE OF ARRAN.

Day 12: Arran - Castles - Ferry

Day 12: Arran - Castles - Ferry

Arran is often known as ‘Scotland in miniature’. It is a condensed version of the best that Scotland has to offer, with pretty coastal villages, rugged mountains and woodland. We stop at the relatively new ARRAN DISTILLERY, opened in 1995. Here, we have lunch in the distillery’s fine restaurant before heading to the MACHINE MOOR STONE CIRCLES, BRODICK CASTLE & GARDEN Garden and the ferry to Ardrossan, where we return to Glasgow or Edinburgh.


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