From the architecture of Edinburgh and the modern grit of Glasgow to the sprawling, emerald countryside dotted with crumbling castles, there is much to discover in Scotland. So much, in fact, that the only way to recover from a long day of sightseeing is with a strong drink. Luckily, Scotland is known for their Scotch whisky.
The birthplace of poet Robert Burns is home to over 100 distilleries, many with informative visitor centers and whiskey-filled tours. Let’s toast to these seven distilleries that’ll quench your thirst for Scotch whisky during a trip to England’s friendly neighbor to the north.
The Glenlivet, Speyside
Photo via The Glenlivet
In the 1800s, when The Glenlivet was founded, Scotland was suffering from a whiskey smuggling epidemic. In the glen where this distillery is now located, there were over 200 illegal whiskey stills. Surrounded by mountains, a visit to The Glenlivet will take you back into whiskey’s history with walking tours along the trails where bootleggers once roamed. The distillery tour includes a tasting of seven different Glenlivet expressions. History lessons never seemed so appealing.
The Macallan, Speyside
Photo via The Macallan
Whiskey aficionados love The Macallan of the most famous Scotch whisky manufacturers—because they have expansive archives of vintage whiskies. Like wine (and women), whiskey improves with age, so a bottle of Macallan 1951 will cost you $10,000. Not shopping? Tour the facilities to observe the whiskey-making process from start to finish. The Precious Tour offers a more advanced look at the distillery and ends with a tasting.
Royal Brackla, Highland
Photo via Royal Brackla
Captain William Fraser established Royal Brackla when he retired from the British army in 1812. Within 20 years, he was supplying King William IV’s royal household with his goods and was awarded the first royal warrant for Single Malt. The whiskey manufacturer, now owned by John Dewar & Sons Ltd, is open to the public for tours and whiskey tastings by appointment.
Built in 1881, Bruichladdich is one of 11 distilleries on the tiny island of Islay. On this bit of land where sheep outnumber humans, Bruichladdich sets itself apart from the other 10 with its heavily peated, smoky beverage. On top of their award-winning whiskies, Bruichladdich also makes Botanist, a gin made of 22 botanicals including some unique to the island. A visit to Islay is an adventure on its own, but one made even better with a visit and tour of Bruichladdich and a sampling of one of their super peated Octomore whiskies.
Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery, Highland
Photo via Aberfeldy Distillery
If you’re into the big name brands, the Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery won’t disappoint. Have a sip of the water used to make the famed drink from nearby freshwater stream Pitilie Burn and learn about brand’s history in the Dewar’s World of whiskey exhibit. You can also fill your own bottle of exclusive cask strength whiskey as a delicious souvenir.
Photo via Chris Osburn
Located on the shore of the Dornoch Firth in northern Scotland, Glenmorangie is home to the tallest stills in Scotland (standing almost 17 feet tall), casks sourced from all over the world and whiskies matured to perfection twice instead of the usual five or six times. The Heritage Tour consists of lunch and a whiskey sampling with a walk to Glenmorangie’s water source, the Tarlogie Springs, and makes for a perfect way to spend the day.
Highland Park, Orkney
Photo via Highland Park
One of the hardest distilleries to get to, Highland Park sits on the island of Orkney, which is part of an archipelago off the northernmost point of Scotland. Notorious smuggler Magnus Eunson built the distillery in 1798, which grew from an outlaw operation into one of the most award-winning distilleries in the world. Highland Park is one of only six distilleries in Scotland that still malt their own barley. A visit includes a lesson in the whiskey-making process from malting to distillation and a sampling of their homemade concoctions.
has been detailing stories of his travels around the globe for the last few years while managing to visit over twenty-five distilleries and zero museums.