In Scotland, they don’t call it scotch but rather whisky, with no E. And there’s no better place to taste it than in the Scottish Highlands, with some of Scotland’s oldest and best distilleries easily accessible from our Scottish Highlands Untour. Here our Untours host Duncan outlines his favorites.
The Speyside Malt Whisky Trail is within easy reach of the Scottish Highlands Untour hometown of Inverness. Speyside is home to some of Scotland’s most beautiful scenery and lush landscapes, as well as roughly half of the country’s distilleries. It is located east of Inverness, and reaches from the glittering Moray coastline down towards the Cairngorms National Park.
The region takes its name from the River Spey, and most of its distilleries are in the surrounding glens. The rich supply of pure water and beautiful inland setting help to produce smooth and complex whiskies that provide an elegant contrast to the salty and heavily peated whiskies from other regions. Speyside whiskies are characterized by sweet and fruity notes, ranging from ripe pears to sultanas. Hints of nut and malt are common, and some also possess a refined smokiness.
Follow the renowned Malt Whisky Trail and visit some of the area’s top whisky attractions or visit during the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival in April/May. You could also discover the craft that goes into making whisky casks at the Speyside Cooperage or step back in time and visit Dallas Dhu in Forres, the historic whisky distillery run by Historic Environment Scotland to see how whisky was made in the 1900s.
Here are some of my favorites:
Dalwhinnie Distillery’s single malt whisky is renowned for its gentle flavors accentuated with notes of heather honey, citrus, vanilla, and sweet malt. Their whisky and chocolate tours are a match made in heaven! Dalwhinnie Distillery tours and tastings offer something a little different.
Since 1897 there has been a quiet revolution unfolding in the heart of the Scottish Highlands. In this idyllic spot, the naturally soft water from the Alt-na-Frith burn is introduced to tender Scottish malted barley. Later, from the tall, slim copper stills of the Tomatin Distillery, a mellow, fruity spirit is born.
One of the oldest distilleries in Scotland, Glen Ord was founded in 1838 on the edge of the Black Isle, west of Inverness. Glen Ord has continued to malt its own barley and to use the long fermentation and slow distillation methods developed over generations. The Singleton of Glen Ord is not available anywhere else in the UK or Europe. Sampling the whisky, in person, at the distillery, is a must! It has a rich, smooth-tasting, well-balanced flavor.
In 1843, William Matheson founded the Glenmorangie Distillery in the Scottish Highlands. Inspired by the the peaceful surroundings on the banks of the Dornoch Firth, he brought forth a pioneering, award-winning single malt whisky that is wonderfully complex and exceptionally smooth. Its pure spirit is distilled in Scotland’s tallest stills, matured in the finest casks and perfected by the Men of Tain. And, in the hands of these select craftsmen, the guardians of the spirit, Glenmorangie will surely delight malt whisky lovers for generations to come.
Since 1898, this notable distillery has been using the same spring water, rising in nearby Romach Hills. See the distillers at work as they orchestrate every second of the production by sight, sound, and touch. The friendly tour guides will proudly show you around the boby mill, mash tun, wooden washbacks, 2 copper stills, spirit safe, filling room, dunnage warehouses and visitor center with many mementoes. Benromach also offer tutored tasting of the gorgeous classic Speyside Single Malt Whisky.
Glen Moray single malt whisky has been distilled on the banks of the River Lossie since 1897. In its lifetime, the distillery has known only 5 distillery managers. Know-how, myths, and trade secrets passed through the generations to ensure every drop has the same light character as the last. In over a century of distilling at Glen Moray, much has changed, but the ingredients, the processes, and the skills of those responsible for producing this finest quality single malt whisky remain constant. A small, friendly and informal distillery, Glen Moray is in the heart of Elgin, the historic capital of Speyside. Glen Moray is a partner member of the world famous Malt Whisky Trail.
Meet Duncan, learn more about whisky, and discover the Whisky Trail on a Scottish Highlands Untour.