29th June 2023
A whisky lover’s pilgrimage to Scotland is such a special trip, we believe it should be uniquely crafted for each individual by travel experts. In this post, we share some examples of the incredible whisky experiences which can be enjoyed on a bespoke trip to Scotland with Away from the Ordinary. The history of whisky in Scotland is an interesting and complex story that is still being written to this day: Here we have put together some ways that visitors can be a part of this incredible journey.
For whisky drinkers, a trip to the Isle of Islay is a must. Home to some of Scotland’s most famous distilleries, and with a vibrant history of whisky smuggling, Islay is a fascinating, malt-soaked destination. At Away from the Ordinary, we believe the best way to enjoy this region is to take a private chartered boat trip, stopping at breathtaking coastal distilleries. Guests can enjoy a whisky tour from a totally different perspective on the water, while the skipper shares local tales from the island. Islay’s whisky history was shaped by its island status, with distilleries that were both accessible by boat for easy export, and away from the watchful eye of the mainland taxman. A tour by boat is a wonderful way to connect with its past.
All of Islay’s distilleries are rightfully well renowned, but a trip to Bowmore is a visit to the oldest recorded distillery on the island. Bowmore also has a delightful whisky-tasting bar, where guests can enjoy comparing and contrasting the different whiskies on offer in a beautifully relaxed setting. Guests can take an exclusive step-by-step tour of the malting process: Bowmore uses traditional floor malting, a technique passed down over hundreds of years.
Campbeltown is a place of the utmost significance in the history of whisky. Once home to over 30 distilleries, it was a hub for producing and exporting the spirit, even in times of illicit stills. The making of a Campbeltown malt is a practice that has been perfected over centuries and there is no better place to learn about it than on a private ‘Barley to Bottle’ tour at Springbank. One of only three surviving distilleries in the region, Springbank has kept the Campbeltown traditions alive to be passed on to the future. Visitors can even create their own whisky blend in the blending laboratory to take home.
While in Campbeltown, a trip to The Ardshiel Hotel’s whisky bar is thoroughly recommended. As winners of multiple whisky accolades, they have over 700 different malts to explore. From renowned classics to hidden gems, their carefully curated selection encompasses a wide range of styles, regions, and flavours. It is the perfect place to spend an evening sharing stories over a dram. Whisky connoisseurs can sample rare malts that are not easily found elsewhere, elevating the experience to one of true discovery.
Another incredible activity in the area is Cadenhead’s Warehouse tour. The warehouse is a treasure trove of ageing casks and maturing spirits. Led by knowledgeable and passionate guides, the tour unveils the secrets of whisky production, from the selection of quality ingredients to the intricacies of the ageing process. There is the opportunity to taste six different cask-strength whiskies on the tour and purchase whisky straight from the cask.
The stunning Highland landscape is one of the main reasons people visit Scotland and the whisky that is made here is evocative of those wild vistas. The iconic Brora Distillery was recently re-opened by Diageo in 2021 after 38 years of closure. Its re-awakening was welcomed by people across the world and locals alike. With carbon-neutral status, an emphasis has been put on a sustainable future for the whisky industry. The rejuvenation of so-called ghost distilleries has been a mission of Diageo, who are also in the process of resurrecting Port-Ellen, a well-loved location on Islay that closed during the downturn in whisky production.
There are some memorable and luxurious places to stay while visiting the Highland distilleries, including the stunning Glenmorangie House, which is only a stone’s throw away from the Glenmorangie Distillery. Its lavishly decorated interiors and curated gardens make it the perfect place to explore the local area from. Glenmorangie is challenging the old traditional image of a whisky drinker, with a young, fresh and colourful design, which is reflected in the dynamic decoration of this beautiful house.
Speyside whiskies are often associated with unpeated and fruity flavours. Ballindalloch is a relatively new distillery that was created with traditional distilling in mind, where visitors can take part in a whisky masterclass, enjoying a hands-on role in each stage of whisky-making. From milling to distilling, even the keenest of aficionados will have more to learn at Ballindalloch.
While in Speyside, a fantastic place to stay is Rothes Glen. It truly is unmatched in the experiences it can offer. It is an exclusive-use castle that has been beautifully modernised and curated for an exquisite stay. With access to some of the most interesting people in the industry, Away from the Ordinary has booked private tastings with experts to be held for clients staying here. The spaces they have created to host are incredibly decadent and the hospitality is divine.
Speyside is also the home of Gordon & Macphail, age-old masters of whisky that have over 125 years of history in the business. Spend the day exploring the whisky perfection they have created over the years by letting their team of professionals guide you around their distilleries and through an exclusive tasting. Their level of expertise and hospitality is second to none, and even the keenest whisky aficionado will have something to learn.
The original Gordon & Macphail location is currently undergoing a multi-million-pound refurbishment to create an exquisite tasting space, rare whisky vault and more. In the meantime, they have a wonderful store in the centre of Elgin, stocking some of the best whiskies in the world.
Lindores Abbey Distillery, located in the heart of Fife, is celebrated for its spiritual significance and unwavering commitment to the art of whisky distillation. Positioned on the grounds of Lindores Abbey, which traces its origins back to the year 1191, the distillery serves as a testament to the enduring heritage of Scottish whisky craftsmanship. This distillery is known as ‘the spiritual hub of whisky’ for a reason.
Lindores also happens to be in a famous region for world-class golf. Kingsbarns Golf Links, which are nestled along the rugged Fife coastline, showcase panoramic vistas of the North Sea, providing a stunning backdrop for every swing. Golf has been played here since 1793, with the current course being designed by golf course architect Kyle Philips. It is an incredible place to enjoy a game of golf and often our client’s favourite course to play.
A whisky lover’s pilgrimage to Scotland is a very special thing. To deliver the absolute best experience, the help of whisky and travel experts is a necessity. Get in touch with Away from the Ordinary today to ensure your whisky trip is the once-in-a-lifetime journey you have always dreamed of.