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Scotland's top distilleries - Your picks

HorizonsHorizons Member, VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭✭
Hard to believe this but there is no single thread for this question asked by many a traveller coming to Scotland. To make this thread definitive, I even came up with a format (you don't have to follow it)

Favourite distillery tour (Not all tours are created equal)
Favourite distillery for its whisky / tastings (Can be a specific tasting or a well-endowed tasting room)
Favourite distillery location (The view from some distilleries is breathtaking)
Distillery / whisky related notes (Blogposts / ramblings / your thoughts)

The Scotch Whisky Experience is disqualified from any of the answers because you've made it all the way to the country, you owe it to yourself to visit a real distillery :wink:
I'm Anirudh, an Indian travel blogger who has explored a lot of Scotland by public transport. My blog. Find me on Facebook | Instagram

Best of Scotland in 1 week itinerary (fully by public transport)

My Scotland travels (includes EdinburghSkye, HarrisMullArranOrkneyLoch Lomond, Islay, Oban, DunoonSpeyside)


  • HorizonsHorizons Member, VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭✭
    edited June 2017
    I'll start (am hoping I'll not be the only poster here)

    Favourite distillery tour
     : Edradour, easy to get to, a charming tour, a super tasting room

    Favourite distillery for its whisky / tastings : Total bias for Ardbeg's Full Range Tour & Tasting. (£20)

    Favourite distillery location : This is a hard one, a tie between Glenlivet & Isle of Arran.

    Distillery / whisky related notes

    Our top 5 whisky related experiences in Scotland

    Why Edradour is a must-visit distillery

    I'm Anirudh, an Indian travel blogger who has explored a lot of Scotland by public transport. My blog. Find me on Facebook | Instagram

    Best of Scotland in 1 week itinerary (fully by public transport)

    My Scotland travels (includes EdinburghSkye, HarrisMullArranOrkneyLoch Lomond, Islay, Oban, DunoonSpeyside)

  • VisitScotlandAmandaVisitScotlandAmanda Member, Administrator, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    Ooh thanks for sharing @Horizons!

    @Samantha_Grant have you got a favourite?

    I will weigh in after I've been to more than just the Scotch Whisky Experience. I am new to whisky drinking so need to expand my horizons some more!
    Kiwi gal, relocated to Scotland. 
  • EdinBrawGaryEdinBrawGary VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭
    This is such a great thread, I'm looking forward to reading all of the recommendations. 

    I've enjoyed a dram or two of whisky in my time but only recently visited my first distillery. I was lucky to have a sneak preview of Lindores Abbey Distillery in Newburgh, which looks as if it will be a dream come true for whisky lovers. 

    I'll be sure to revisit when it opens and share my experience.  

    I've also got my eyes on Lagavulin's distillery, Ron Swanson had a great time when he visited. 

    Gary Wood - Blogger at EdinBraw - The Best of Edinburgh
    Passionate about Edinburgh's food and festival scene and slowly starting to explore Scotland. 
    Find me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook
  • YourScotlandTourYourScotlandTour Member ✭✭✭
    The best tours are almost always 'private' or managers tours. But that being said for the run of the mill, off the shelf tours - Glenfiddich is very slick, has a good tasting of 4 expressions and the tours are inexpensive at £10 a head - the tour guides are a bit robotic though - often not much depth of knowledge beyond their Glenfiddich script... (The £95 tour, if you want to spend half a day there, it's hard to believe but it is worth it!)

    For 'new' distilleries try Ballindalloch - they're very small, output of 100,000 litres of spirit a year. Their tour manager Brian is charming and knowledgable about the history of the estate, the whisky industry and everthing in the distillery... 

    Brechin's Glencadam distillery offers a great tour too .... but you did not hear that from me ;-)

    Edradour is good, very accessible from Edinburgh and Glasgow but if you're in Glasgow and don't have time - Auchentoshan is minutes from the airport... 

    Tomatin offer a good tour - the taste of tomatin with 6 expressions is very good value for money and includes some interesting information, also quite close to Inverness and on the way south so convenient for anyone going south on the A9.

    Balvenie tours are a must - IF you can get on one! The malt floor is one of only a handful left being used in the traditional way which gives this tour an almost unique aspect.

    Fettercairns tours are good too - they offer distillery only single cask, cask strength tastings at the end of their tours... the bottles are normally reasonably priced and something different to take home - William Gladstone used to own the distillery (former prime minister). 

    GlenGarioch (GlenGeery) offers really good tours too - just outside Aberdeen and about 30 minutes from the airport this is a good quickie distillery to get to - the tour guides are knowledgable about the whole of the industry and that's one of the reasons I particularly like these tours.

    Hmmm, maybe I've put enough in already :-) I'm a whisky fan, nerd and drinker also do take people to the distilleries from time to time ;-)
    Bespoke tours.
    Whisky, Castles and Food a speciality.
  • HorizonsHorizons Member, VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭✭
    Awesome list @YourScotlandTour, I can attest to how difficult it is to get into the Balvenie. Hope to have a dram with you someday and talk whisky :wink:

    I'm Anirudh, an Indian travel blogger who has explored a lot of Scotland by public transport. My blog. Find me on Facebook | Instagram

    Best of Scotland in 1 week itinerary (fully by public transport)

    My Scotland travels (includes EdinburghSkye, HarrisMullArranOrkneyLoch Lomond, Islay, Oban, DunoonSpeyside)

  • YourScotlandTourYourScotlandTour Member ✭✭✭
    I just liked your facebook page - drop me a message, let's make a plan :-)
    Bespoke tours.
    Whisky, Castles and Food a speciality.
  • FullStopNextChapterFullStopNextChapter VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭
    I don't drink whisky but my other half does, so that coupled with my thirst to travel around Scotland and my job, I've done a distillery tour or two!

    I think my favourite tour has to be Harris Disitillery. Although there whisky hasn't done it's obligitory three years and a day maturation, the gin has very much taken on a life of it's own. 

    The passion and pride in their social distillery is incredible and really worth a visit if you are passing!!! haha

    Even though I have never done a tasting at a distillery, I've sat through a few! And for me, I think the Springbank tasting has to be near the top. My other half had six totally different whiskies to try - ranging from light to heavily peated. The room the tasting takes place in is like a gentleman's club and more bottles of whisky than I have ever seen. 

    Recently, for work, I visited Glenfarclas near Ballindalloch, Banffshire and the rolling hills surrounding the distillery made it feel wild and really isolated but very pretty. 

    From my visits and tours to many, many distilleries it always fascinates how they can be SO different. The process is, mostly, the same but the stories, passion and history are all very different. 
    Join in my new chapter over on the blog. Discovering all things that make Scotland the place everyone wants to visit. 

  • IreneGIreneG Member ✭✭
    One of my favourite distilleries is Laphroaig on Islay ! Actually it's my husbands favourite  . If you are on the Island do the water to whisky tour according to my husband it was worth it !  lunch is included and you go to the water source ! Cut peat ! Yes! cut peat and taste drams ! Quite a few ! The tour lasts 4to 5 hrs and you get to bottle your own bottle from a cask after tasting 3 casks  Hubby said it was an amazing experience all round  . Only very small group on this tour and you have to book in advance  . Oops I had to be the taxi that day !  
     If you don't like pleated malts then try Kilchoman  . The distillery is small on a farm but it is WOW . The tour is great and the tasting good too This modern distillery has a fine Bistro which is licenced too The gift shop is will like the Kilchoman Tartan . A truly great wee distillery 
  • Where to start!!!

    Our favourite tour was at the Loch Ewe distillery in Aultbea, just north of Inverewe Gardens. It’s a fantastic tour with the distiller himself, and he gives the fascinating story of how he transformed a garage behind his hotel into his distillery, using ancient alembic pots to create his unique liquor. You can’t buy his whisky in the shops, but there is plenty chance to sample his creations in his award winning bar. We visited in October, 2016, and the distiller was talking about retiring, so get there quick!

    There is a reason why Glenfiddich is probably the biggest producer of malt whisky in Scotland, and that is because their whisky is so good. The tour is interesting, but the tasting is even better!

    Although we never actually did the tour (booked up!), the location of Talisker on Loch Harport, must be one of the most spectacular distillery locations.

    Check out our blog post to read about our Glenfiddich distillery tour and visit to the Speyside area.

  • GreenGreen Member
    This is a terrific thread & precisely the question I've been asking about my upcoming July visit.  Which distillery to visit?  And also, isn't it important for it to be rather near to where we are staying (to limit the driving after)?
    Our itinerary is Edinburgh, Stirling, Glencoe, Skye, Harris, Ullapool (one night only, after the ferry from Harris), Edinburgh.  Unfortunately, our leg from Ullapool to Edinburgh must be done in one day, so I'm reluctant to schedule a visit to one of the distilleries on the route south, like Edradour or Tomatin.  

    I saw that the distilleries in Harris and Talisker were recommended.  How would you compare the two?  Also, are there others that are worthwhile and along our itinerary - perhaps a distillery near Glencoe?

    Many thanks, in advance for any feedback - and thank you again for this thread, which makes me think about future visits!
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