August 6, 2009 5:06 PM   Subscribe

Going to Scotland later this month. What Scotch distilleries can we tour?

We'll be arriving by ferry in Troon, picking up a car somewhere and making our way to Skye. From there we'll head to Edinburgh and eventually end up in Newcastle. Are there distilleries along the way that we can tour? We only have three days total in Scotland, so a half day tour isn't feasible.
posted by Nathanial Hörnblowér to Travel & Transportation around Scotland (16 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
If you're heading from Skye to Edinburgh then I'd recommend Glengoyne. Smallish, and slightly off the beaten track, but it's a spectacular location and they offer a range of highly rated tours. It's also easy to incorporate into a visit to Glasgow, or vice versa.
posted by fire&wings at 5:14 PM on August 6, 2009

You might struggle to find it in the US, but if Scotch distilleries are your thing, you might enjoy Iain Banks' Raw Spirit.

I enjoyed it, and I'm not even a fan of scotch.
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 5:24 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm not really into the whole Scotch thing, but even I enjoyed touring the Talisker distillery on Skye. It's apparently the only one on the island.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 5:27 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you don't mind taking the (really) long way from Skye to Edinburgh, you could drive the four-ish hours from Skye to Moray & Speyside (north-East coast), and spend a day or two doing the Malt Whisky Trail, and touring a bunch of distilleries. From there, it's only about another four hours to Edinburgh.

So, it's not along the way, but it would definitely be worth a detour. Plus, speaking as someone who grew up in that area, it's one of the most beautiful parts of the Scotland and the drive itself would be worth it just for the views.

If you'd prefer places nearer to Edinburgh, Glenmorangie has a distillery in West Lothian (about a 40-minute drive, maybe?) that does tours.
posted by spockette at 5:31 PM on August 6, 2009

Bah, sorry, that last bit is wrong. The Glenmorangie distillery that you can tour is actually in Tain; it's the bottling plant in West Lothian. Sorry!
posted by spockette at 5:37 PM on August 6, 2009

Just off the route Google Maps suggests from Troon to Skye is the little town of Aberfeldy, where the Aberfeldy Distillery (or DeWar's World of Whisky) is located. This place produces the DeWar's range of whiskies (which are passable blends) so well as the Aberfeldy single malt (which is a gorgeous, flowery highland). The tour is fantastic, mostly because of the beautiful old distillery buildings, and fantastic location. You get the same standard tour of the production process, and then a bit more about the history of the DeWar family, the Aberfeldy distillery, and whisky in general. Oh, and there's a tasting, of course.

Obviously, the real place to go to tour distilleries is Islay (though Tallisker will be excellent, I'm sure, Skye only houses the one...)
posted by Dysk at 5:39 PM on August 6, 2009

Response by poster: I'm indulging my husband and am not a Scotch drinker myself, so the Malt Whisky Trail is probably overkill. But he did mention Glenfiddich specifically, which is Speyside, so we won't rule it out at this point. I did see that Talisker is on Skye, so that's a possibility.
posted by Nathanial Hörnblowér at 5:41 PM on August 6, 2009

Best answer: I think the Oban distillery is on your way. I seem to remember it being a good tour, but my can be memory is less than reliable.
posted by lucidium at 5:43 PM on August 6, 2009

We did the Talisker and it's great.
posted by Meg_Murry at 6:07 PM on August 6, 2009

I enjoyed the Edradour tour, we lucked out and it was only 4-5 of us on the tour. I wish I could get the cask strength in the U.S.
posted by beowulf573 at 6:47 PM on August 6, 2009

Glengoyne (see if you can get the cask strength) and Glenkinchie are really the only ones close to your route.
(and Brother Dysk, it's Dewar, not DeWar - it's pronounced [roughly] ju-ar)
posted by scruss at 7:58 PM on August 6, 2009

nthing Talisker. Ideally, you want to hijack your ferry and get off at the bottom of the Mull of Kintyre for Springbank and then Islay, but that's not going to happen.

As a general guide, for your own sanity as well as general enjoyment, I'd mix a couple of visits to the big, famous distilleries, which run along standard Tour Of The Factory lines -- the introductory film, the well-worn script -- with ones to smaller, independent or family-run distilleries, which may cost a little more but aren't going to feel like Yet Another Whisky Maker.

You're taking an attenuated loop, probably, and if you get more time in Speyside, see if you can add An Cnoc/Knockhdu to the list, or Balvenie, both of which have very informal and well-regarded tours. If you do Aberfeldy on the way out, you can possibly do the wee distillery at Edradour, near Pitlochry, on the way back to Edinburgh. Book in advance if your schedule's tight, and be aware that some distilleries go dark at this time of year for routine maintenance, so they might not be open.

You're presumably Americans, so while the distance between places in Scotland is further than south of the border, it won't feel as long a trek as it would to a sassanach.
posted by holgate at 10:59 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: As you drive from Troon to Skye, which only takes four hours but has spectacular scenery, your three main stops, without taking a significant detour, would be Oban Distillery, in Oban obviously, Ben Nevis Distillery in Fort William and Talisker Distillery on Skye itself.

If you only visit one go to Talisker and treat yourself to a dram, its one of our best commercially produced malts.

However, for a real whisky experience you could maybe head to Islay a beautiful wee island off the west coast which holds seven major distilleries and some of the best malts in the world namely Bowmore, Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Caol Ila, Bunnahabhain, Ardbeg and Bruichladdich. For this you'd need to get a Caledonian MacBrayne Island Hopscotch ticket and sail from Ardrossan just a few miles north of Troon. With a bit of planning you could continue to drive and sail north to Oban and carry on up to Skye.

On your return to Edinburgh, if you head south via Perth rather than Sterling you can also visit Blair Athol and Tullibardine Distilleries as well as Dewar's World of Whisky at Aberfeldy and the Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret before finally checking out Glenkinchie just outside Edinburgh. [more]

Don't let your man get too carried away now ;)

posted by theCroft at 4:45 AM on August 7, 2009 [4 favorites]

A 25 min drive from Edinburgh will bring you to the Glenkinchie Distillery in East Lothian.
google map ref :

Lovely malt and very interesting visitor centre and good guides.
posted by cameronfromedinburgh at 9:38 AM on August 7, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone for your recommendations. Sounds like we'll have plenty of opportunities along the way.
posted by Nathanial Hörnblowér at 9:33 PM on August 8, 2009

Not casting any aspersions towards Glenfiddich. Your husband may be an aficionado and Glenfiddich may be his favorite after years of sampling. On the other hand, The Glenlivet and Glenfiddich tend to be the most popular in the United States because they are the most widely available. What a wonderful opportunity to make a lifelong connection to a new, previously unloved but now forever sought out single malt. I'm talkin' to you, Glen Drumnadrochit!
posted by ActingTheGoat at 7:06 AM on August 10, 2009

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