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Nc’nean Distillery, Scotland.

10 of the best whisky distillery tours in Scotland

Dreaming of a dram? These distilleries offer an insight into one of the world’s great drinks, and are often in stunning locations, too

Nc’nean, Morvern

It’s an adventure in itself just reaching Nc’nean, a remote and free-spirited whisky startup 12 (slow) miles down a single-track road on the Morvern peninsula on Scotland’s stunning west coast. For those that do make it, tours (with coffee and a slice of organic cake) are less about stats and more about the soul of this exciting, sustainably-minded enterprise. The team here is experimenting with different strains of yeast, curiously-shaped stills and longer mash times. To what end? We’ll find out next year when its first whisky is released. Walks in any direction offer the chance to spot otters, pine martens and sea eagles. Stay Achnacriche , doubles from £95 B&B Tours from £15pp, Lochaline , ncnean.com

Dewar’s, Perthshire

Dewar’s Aberfeldy Whisky Distillery, Scotland.

Perth’s Tommy Dewar understood the power of marketing. A globetrotting brand ambassador before that title had really been established, in the early years of the 20th century Dewar enlisted Thomas Edison to direct a film commercial for his White Label blend. It’s possibly why Dewar’s remains among the best-selling blends in the US. The remarkable story forms the heart of the interactive heritage museum at the visitor centre for Aberfeldy, the malt at the heart of Dewar’s blend. The distillery is on the banks of the Upper Tay, just outside Aberfeldy itself. Stay Brae House , doubles from £125 B&B Tours £10.50pp , Aberfeldy, dewars.com

Deanston, Perthshire

Deanston Mill now a distillery on the River Teith near Doune, Scotland.

A steady supply of water doesn’t automatically lead to whisky production. In Deanston, it once meant textile manufacturing. Which is why this distillery wouldn’t look out of place along the Rochdale canal. A Richard Arkwright-designed textile mill, Deanston was transformed into a distillery in 1966. Thanks to the River Teith, the distillery, as with the mill before it, generates its own power. Tour guides point out the ghostly remains of what was claimed to be the largest waterwheel in Europe – now replaced by turbines. Deanston is the location for film director Ken Loach’s affectionate whisky romp, The Angel’s Share. Stay Creity Hall , doubles from £90 B&B Tours from £9pp, near Doune, deanstonmalt.com

GlenDronach, Aberdeenshire

Glendronach Distillery, near Huntly, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

The stars and stripes flying high above the Aberdeenshire countryside is a clue that GlenDronach is now owned by the same American company behind Jack Daniel’s. With its row of workers’ houses and 250-year-old master distiller’s mansion, this is a thrilling distillery experience – more than 50 people lived and worked here in the early 19th century. In fertile farming country (the Valley of the Brambles responsible for its Gaelic name), you can pick a blackberries in the grounds for an appropriately sweet amuse-bouche before a tour of this Victorian whisky village and a tasting of its juicy, sherry-matured whisky in the darkly inviting tasting bar. Stay Netherdale House , doubles from £110 B&B Tours from £10pp, Forgue By Huntly , glendronachdistillery.com

Clynelish, Sutherland

Samples of Clynelish whiskey inside Brora Distillery, Scotland.

So discreet is its setting in farmland above the coast road, that many who pass en route to John o’Groats assume Clynelish is a hydro-electric plant. You can see their point. The 1960s-built distillery eschewed the traditional pagoda-style skyline of the malting roof (which is now mostly a distillery affectation anyhow, as barley is malted off site). However, the 200-year-old distillery buildings – home to the holy grail of lost malts: Brora – are being recommissioned by beverage multinational Diageo. The distillery has a dark past: it was built by one of the chief architects of the Highland clearances, the Duke of Sutherland. His hill-top statue looms over this coast, although slabs of its footing are regularly chipped away by those determined to see it tumble. Stay Clynelish Farm , doubles from £80 B&B (£70 a night for two or more nights) Tours from £12pp , Brora , malts.com

Strathisla, Moray

Strathisla distillery in Keith in the Moray District of Scotland.

Think you’ve got what it takes to be a master blender? The Chivas Blending Experience (£60) at Strathisla, the oldest continuously operating distillery in the Highlands, will put you to the test. Now owned by Pernod Ricard, whose portfolio includes Chivas Regal, the distillery’s cobbled courtyard leads to a mad professor-style blending lab, complete with bulbous burettes filled with fine malt whisky. Tours make it possible to mix (and keep) your own unique blend. The two-pagoda distillery is atmospheric, with many of its stones snatched from neighbouring 15th-century Milton Castle. Stay Isla Bank House , doubles from £130 B&B Tours from £15pp, Keith , maltwhiskydistilleries.com

Ardbeg, Argyll and Bute

Ardbeg Distillery on the coastline just east of the village of Port Ellen on the island of Islay, Scotland.

When burned as fuel to dry the malted barley, the seaweed and sea salt-infused peat of Islay produces the island’s signature whiskies. Ardbeg’s tours include a yomp over Islay’s peat-cloaked hills (perhaps by way of the eighth-century Kildalton Cross, one of the finest early Christian crosses in Scotland), with an outdoor tasting and a picnic lunch prepared by the team at the distillery’s restaurant. Round a visit off with a stay at Seaview Cottage, the former home to the distillery manager. Sipping an Ardbeg Supernova with a view of the Atlantic breakers outside your window, peat fire roaring in the stove – might that be the ultimate Islay whisky experience? Stay Seaview Cottage , sleeps six, from £200 a night (minimum two-night stay) Tours from £8pp, Ardbeg, Port Ellen , Islay, ardbeg.com

Oban, Argyll and Bute

The Ton room in Oban Distillery, Scotland.

Squeezed between the coast and the cliff that separates the harbour from the suburbs above, the Oban distillery is a tight huddle of grey granite buildings. When the distillery was built in the 1790s, Oban was little more than a scatter of herring storehouses, but since then the busy port has grown around it. This pocket-size distillery’s tours offer a rare chance to sample a west-coast style (somewhere between a sweet Speysider and the smokey islands). When the drizzle descends, the lively dramming bar is the place to settle in and see it out before catching a ferry to recently reopened Tobermory distillery on Mull. Stay Alltavona guesthouse, doubles from £115 B&B Tours from £12pp, Oban, malts.com

Springbank, Argyll and Bute

Springbank Distillery racked warehouse full of maturing whisky casks, Campbeltown, Argyll and Bute, Scotland, UK

In its prime, Campbeltown (a distinct whisky region in its own right at the end of the Kintyre peninsula) saw more than 30 distilleries pump their waste back into Campbeltown Loch, giving rise to the Andy Stewart eponymous song: “Campbeltown Loch/ I wish you were whisky”. Of the three remaining distilleries, Springbank is the oldest, producing its complex maritime dram on the same fortress-like site in the centre of town since 1828. As tours go, Springbank has more to see than most, as the entire production line takes place here, from the malting floor to the bottling plant. Stay Grammar Lodge , doubles from £90 B&B Tours from £10pp, Campbeltown, springbank.scot

Kingsbarns, Fife

A bottle of Kingsbarn whisky on display on top of bourbon barrels at the distillery and visitor centre in St Andrews, Scotland.

Easy-drinking Lowland whiskies can find it it hard to shout above the peaty monsters of Islay or the romance of the Highland drams, and a decade or so ago there were only a couple of distilleries clinging on. But a cluster of new Fife-based ventures point to a resurgence. Kingsbarns’ new visitor centre and restaurant sit within meticulously restored farmsteadings and a 200-year-old dovecot. It’s surrounded by golden fields of barley: the same stuff that you’ll see frothing away in the mash tun. Its first release, Dream to Dram, is a perfect distillation of Fife’s farming heritage, one that’s even managing to lure golfers away from St Andrews’ Old Course, just eight miles away. Stay The Old Station , doubles from £90 B&B Tours from £10pp, Kingsbarns, kingsbarnsdistillery.com

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best distillery tour in scotland

7 of the best Scottish whisky distillery tours

best distillery tour in scotland

Few things are guaranteed to get a whisky fan more  giddy than a trip to a distillery. In Scotland we are spoiled for options when it comes to these wonderful locations- there are more than 50 in the Speyside region alone - and most are readily accessible from our major cities.

Here are our pick of seven of the best distillery tours in Scotland:

Auchentoshan , lowlands

(Dalmuir, Clydebank, G81 4SJ, 01389 878561)

 Distillery tours

Auchentoshan Distillery. Picture: TSPL

The closest distillery to Glasgow and readily accessible by train from the city's Central station, Auchentoshan is a great little distillery to visit and produces some of the country's lightest whiskies.

On the tour, you’ll get to take in the whole process of making their whisky, including a look at that fascinating triple distillation process. You'll also be given the chance to sample three of Auchentoshan's own range as well as one from one of their stablemates - Bowmore or Glen Garioch.

Classic tour - 60 min tour with one whisky sample - price: £10 per person.

Auchentoshan experience* - 90 min tour with 4 Auchentoshan whiskies - price: £35 per person

Plus, when you’ve decided on a favourite you can purchase a 70cl bottle and they’ll personalise it with a name, an occasion or in any other way you desire.

Ultimate Auchentoshan experience - 135 min tour with a master class in 3 of the core range whiskies, as well as a sample of 2 of the archive whiskies and a chance to sample whisky straight from the cask - price: £55 per person

*For an additional £80, you can fill your own bottle direct from the cask.

Edradour , Highlands

(Pitlochry, Perthshire, PH16 5JP, 01796 472095)


Edradour distillery. Picture: Wikimedia

Renowned as the smallest and most picturesque distillery in Scotland, Edradour is also one of the most visited, and for good reason.

Situated roughly two hours away from both Edinburgh and Glasgow, you'll be given the chance to tour this beautiful little distillery seeing the processes that haven't changed since Victorian times before being given a few drams in the distillery's old Malt Barn.

Also make sure and take advantage of the distillery shop to get access some of the limited amounts of  excellent bottlings.

Classic tour - 60 mins plus two drams of Edradour in the old Malt Barn. Price:  Adults - £7.50, Children - (12-17 years): £2.50.

READ MORE:  6 of Scotland’s best gin distillery tours

Springbank , campbeltown.

(85 Longrow, Campbeltown, PA28 6EX, 01586 552085)

best distillery tour in scotland

Picture: audrey_sel\Flickr

Not the easiest distillery to get to but as they always say the best things are worth working hard for. One of the most traditional distilleries in Scotland, a trip to Springbank will give you the chance to take in not one but two distilleries.

On the tour you'll bear witness to 100 per cent of the whisky making process (including floor maltings) - one of the only distilleries to offer this - as well as a dram of the distillery's excellent (and unique malt). If you haven't heard of - or tasted - Springbank before, you're in for a treat.

Springbank & Glengyle Tour - Tour of both distilleries with a dram of both Springbank 10 year old and Kilkerran whisky as well as a complimentary miniature to take home. Price: £10 per person.

Cadenhead Warehouse Tasting - A sample a selection of the finest Cadenhead whiskies hand drawn from the cask. Price:  £25 per person

Premier Tour -  A walking tour of Campbeltown, a visit to three distilleries, a sample of whisky drawn from the cask and lunch. Price: £75 per person

Frank McHardy Tour - Four hours with whisky industry legend Frank McHardy, tour of both Glengyle and Springbank, and a selection of Frank's favourite whiskies from each distillery. Price: £100 per person

Arran distillery , Isle of Arran

(Lochranza. Isle of Arran KA27 8HJ, 01770 830 264)


From the classic to the modern; Arran distillery's visitor centre is brand new and was opened in 1997.

Situated on the beautiful Isle of Arran - lovingly referred to as 'Scotland in miniature' - Arran distillery has one of the most picturesque surroundings of our selections. If you are lucky you may even catch a glimpse of the pair of golden eagles who nest in the near by hills.

Easily accessible by train and ferry from Glasgow, the distillery offers an excellent day trip and is well worth a visit.

Distillery Tour -  45 min includes the tour, a welcome dram of 14 year-old and a taste of the Arran Gold Cream Liqueur.  Price:  £8 per person (children go free)

Drop Inn Tour -  The mini tour takes 20 mins and includes the tour with a wee dram. Price: £4

Tutored Tasting - Those who are only interested in the whisky can enjoy a tutored tasting of four Arran whiskies.  Price: £15.50 per person

• READ MORE:  15 of the funniest whisky memes that are sure to raise a smile

Benromach , speyside.

(Invererne Rd, Forres, Morayshire, IV36 3EB, 01309 675968)

best distillery tour in scotland

Picture: Billy Abbott\Flickr

Benromach is a distillery that everyone should have heard of and if they haven’t already then they probably soon will. Recently taken over by Gordon and MacPhail, Benromach continues to win awards for its excellent core range of malts. 

Situated in Forres and drawing its water from the foot of the Romach hills, the distillery is the smallest in Speyside and isn't too far from Elgin.

The Classic Tour - A 30 min guided tour followed by a tasting of our award-winning Benromach 10 Years Old. Price: £6 per person

The Contrast Tour -  An in-depth tour followed by a tutored tasting of four drams from Benromach's whisky collection. Price:  £15 per person

Personal Distillery Manager’s Experience & Bottle - A guided tour with Anecdotes and insights from Distillery manager Keith Cruickshank, followed by an attempt to recreate the 10 Year Old using hand-drawn cask samples. Finally, you'll be given and Exclusive Distillery bottling to take home. Price:  £125.00 per person

Ardbeg , Islay

(Port Ellen, Isle of Islay PA42 7EA, 01496 302244)

best distillery tour in scotland

Picture: Youtube

Ask anyone to name you an Islay whisky and the chances are Ardbeg will be within the top three mentioned, in fact ask anyone to name you a peaty whisky and you’ll more than likely find Ardbeg there too.

Islay is a wonderful place to visit and more of a pilgrimage than a trip, the unofficial spiritual home of whisky, Islay truly is beautiful.

Ardbeg, along with fellow Islay distilleries Laphroig and Lagavulin, is one of Scotland’s peatiest malts, with a ppm (Phenol parts per million) of around 55. However, it’s lighter spirit and distillation style means that Ardbeg has subtler, fruitier tones when compared to its bigger, smokier Kidalton cousins.

Ardbeg tour and tasting - 1 hour tour of the distillery and a taste of the distillery's wonderful whisky. Price: £6 per person

Ardbeg Full range tour  - A comprehensive tour of the Distillery followed by a tasting of all three expressions from their main range plus two of their limited editions. Price: £20 per person

The Ardbig Tour - An exceptional distillery tour including a tasting of some unusual samples and old favourites in Warehouse Three. Price:   £40 per person

The Ardbog Bog Off Walk -  Take a hike up and over the hills with story teller. Includes a picnic lunch, some great wee drams and a short tour of the Distillery. Price:  £50 (adequate foot wear required).

Laphroaig , Islay

(Port Ellen, Isle of Islay, PA42 7DU, 01496 302418)

best distillery tour in scotland

Picture: Ayack\Wikimedia

Take a trip to one of the most famous distilleries around, Laphroaig, on the beautiful island of Islay.

Celebrating its 200th birthday, the distillery produces one of the best known spirits in the world. Laphroaig is peaty to the extreme (coming in at around 55 ppm).

Situated close to both Ardbeg and Lagavulin, there's a great opportunity to visit all three.

Experience tour -  1 hour tour with a taste of 3 favourite Laphroaig expressions. Price: £10 per person

Distiller's wares - Enjoy a tour of the distillery from the malting through to maturation stages. Also included is a sample straight from a selection of casks a chance to use a valinch to bottle your favourite to take home and enjoy. Price:  £70 per person (Includes a glass and a 250ml bottle of selected cask).

Water to whisky experience -  This experience includes a distillery tour, a picnic lunch, peat cutting, a visit to the Laphroaig water source and a taste from a selection of casks before using a valinch to bottle your favourite. Price: £85 per person

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The Top 15 Scottish Distilleries to Visit in Scotland

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The Best Distilleries in Scotland

If you love a wee dram of the good stuff, then you’re in the right place because Scotland is the undisputed home of whisky. For centuries (records date back to at least the 15th century), the Scots have been distilling, refining, and drinking barrel after barrel of whisky. 

From the Scottish Highlands to the remote islands, whisky distillation is an art form that’s been shaped by the sea, the weather, the peat, and even the bog of Scotland. Without a doubt, whisky is the national drink of Scotland, and there are hundreds of distilleries to visit across the country.

But with so many beautiful whiskies to try, you might not know where to begin. That’s why I decided to compile our list of the best distilleries in Scotland. Visit these excellent distilleries, and there’s no doubt you’ll have an amazing time tasting the best whisky in Scotland!

Don’t forget to check out our web story: The 15 Best Scottish Distilleries to Visit in Scotland

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase or booking through one of our links we may earn a small commission (don’t worry, it’s at no extra cost to you).

The Top 15 Distilleries in Scotland

1. the scotch whisky experience.

Best Distilleries in Scotland: The Scotch Whisky Experience

Okay, so Edinburgh ’s Scotch Whisky Experience isn’t technically a distillery – no whisky is distilled on the site – but it is the best place in Scotland for an introduction to all things whisky!

The Scotch Whisky Experience takes pride in its place on Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile, and if it’s your first time in Scotland, there’s no better place to learn about the ancient art of distillation before sampling the best scotch from around the country. 

Unique Distilleries in Scotland: The Scotch Whisky Experience

This unique experience is home to a replica whisky distillery, where you’ll learn about the centuries-old processes that go into making the finest blends and malts. You’ll learn about the different ingredients, the different whisky-producing regions in Scotland, and the different flavors, tastes, and aromas that different types of whisky are known for. Oh, and there’s a fun theme-park style “barrel ride” through the experience!

You can also see the unique Diageo Claive Vidiz Whisky Collection, which is safely stored away in the vaults of The Scotch Whisky Experience. This is the largest collection of scotch whisky in the world, with the last count putting the number of bottles at 3,384. Once you’ve perused the extensive collection, you’ll be invited for a tasting session in the Amber Restaurant & Whisky Bar.

2. Glenfiddich Distillery

Fun Distilleries in Scotland: Glenfiddich Distillery

One of the most famous whisky brands in Scotland is Glenfiddich, and you can visit their family-owned distillery in the beautiful surrounds of remote Moray, in northeast Scotland. 

Glenfiddich Distillery is unusual in a number of ways. First of all, no other distillery has won quite as many awards as this distillery for their single malts – proving the quality of their whiskies. Second, no other distillery has remained family-owned for so long, with a continuous history dating back to 1886, when the Glenfiddich Distillery was founded by William Grant. 

Must Visit Distilleries in Scotland: Glenfiddich Distillery

The distillery sources its water from the Fiddich River and employs generations worth of whisky-making experience to produce an excellent single malt. This is the classic Speyside Single Malt, and if you’re partial to a dram of this iconic tipple, then this is the best place to enjoy it!

You can tour the distillery to learn more about the family’s history of whisky production and how they’ve evolved and developed their brand over the years, surviving hardships and economic forces that put many more family-owned distilleries out of business. 

The tour ends with a tasting, where you’ll be able to sample the delectable Glennfiddich 12-year, 15-year, and 18-year aged bottles before finishing with the Glenfiddich Gran Reserva, which is aged for 21 years in old rum casks from the Caribbean. 

3. Glenlivet Distillery

Best Distilleries in Scotland: Glenlivet Distillery

Another classic Speyside distillery is the Glenlivet Distillery , where Scotch whisky has been produced going back as far as 1822. Intriguingly, the distillery itself was founded in 1824, but George Smith, the founder, had been distilling his whisky illicitly in the Livet Valley for at least two years prior to this. 

Legend has it King George IV tried the illicit whisky, loved it. When the government rules changed to allow more liberal distillation, Glenlivet Distillery instantly shot to fame once they could legally produce their excellent whisky. 

Scotland Distilleries to try: Glenlivet Distillery

You’ll be able to delve into this fascinating history with a tour of the Glenlivet Distillery, which is located in Ballindalloch, close to the River Spey in Moray. You’ll love the remote, rural location in the midst of a beautiful Scottish glen, and you’ll love tasting the single malts, the oldest of which have been aged for decades. 

4. Highland Park Whisky Distillery

Fun Distilleries in Scotland: Highland Park Whisky Distillery

One of the best Scottish distilleries is found in one of the country’s most remote and difficult-to-reach destinations. The Highland Park Whisky Distillery is the most northerly distillery in Scotland, and you’ll need to make your way all the way to Kirkwall, on the island of Orkney, to enjoy a dram of this whisky at its source.

Highland Park Whisky Distillery dates back to 1798, and the master distillers draw on this long history, as well as the wild, untamable nature of Orkney, to produce a truly distinct array of whiskies. You might be intrigued to discover that the original distillery established here was an illicit one, but then again, given Orkney’s remote location (it’s closer to Norway than to London!), the islanders here have always done things their own way.

Cool Distilleries in Scotland: Highland Park Whisky Distillery

The whiskies here are single malt, and they are produced using barley that’s slowly smoked over peat that’s 4,000 years old (we did say this was a historic distillery). This unusual, ancient peat gives Highland Park’s whisky a characteristic taste and aroma, which few single malts from the mainland can ever match. 

5. Laphroaig Distillery

What Distilleries to try in Scotland: Laphroaig Distillery

Islay is highly regarded for its single malt whisky, and if you’re looking for Islay distilleries, there are as many as nine different distilleries producing high-quality products across the island! Islay whisky has a characteristically peaty, smoky flavor, and no other Islay whisky enshrines this more than Laphroaig. 

The Laphroaig Distillery is one of the best whisky distilleries in Scotland (not just on Islay!), and we know you’re going to love exploring their visitors center and learning about the history and production process. 

Scotland Distilleries to try: Laphroaig Distillery

The distillery was founded in 1815 by members of Clan Donald, and they made use of the abundance of peat on Islay to smoke the barley before distillation. This is where that unique peaty aroma comes from, and the tradition continues today, with much of the peat and barley being locally sourced from Islay and smoked on-site. 

The most popular Laphroaig is aged for at least 10 years, but there are many much older bottles available too. Make your way to Islay, and you can take a tour of the distillery, learning the process from the master distillers before trying the impressive range of peaty whiskies in an expert-led tasting session. If you only have time for one Islay distillery tour, this is the one!

6. Auchentoshan Distillery

Must Visit Distilleries in Scotland: Auchentoshan Distillery

You’ll find the Auchentoshan Distillery in the Glaswegian suburbs, next to the banks of the River Clyde in the Kilpatricks Hills to the west of the city. It’s a beautiful yet convenient location for a distillery, and it’s perfect for anyone who only has fleeting time to explore Scotland!

But convenience isn’t the only reason to visit because the Auchentoshan Distillery has whisky to rival any highland single malt or peaty barrel of island brew. Auchentoshan is very different from its rivals, too, given that this whisky is known for its sweeter aromas and flavors rather than the peaty, boggy, smoky whiskies found elsewhere.

The Auchentoshan Distillery is historic, too, being founded back in 1823. They’ve always had a unique approach to whisky distillation, and the unusual overtones are in part the result of a triple distillation process that few other whisky producers employ. Take a tour, enjoy a few tastings, and see what the Auchentoshan fuss is all about during your trip to Glasgow!

7. The Clydeside Distillery

Unique Distilleries in Scotland: Clydeside Distillery

It’s the Highland and island distilleries that take all the glory and fame when it comes to scotch, but did you know that some of the best whisky in Scotland is produced in Glasgow ?

This unique Scottish distillery overlooks the old Queens Docks in Clydeside, Glasgow, where whisky from Scotland was once exported around the globe. The distillery is located within the former Pump House Building, which supplied the necessary power to operate the docks during the Victorian era.

Best Distilleries in Scotland: Clydeside Distillery

The Clydeside Distillery , though, is relatively new to the whisky game. They only opened in 2017, but rest assured, the owners and distillers draw upon generations of whisky distillation experience. The owners previously owned Auchentoshan Distillery, Bowmore, and Glen Garioch Distilleries and they were inspired to create a dedicated single malt distillery (The Clydeside Distillery) that could return Glasgow to its former whisky-distilling glory. 

The owners’ family were former whisky brokers, and they worked here at Clydeside in days past, forging a whisky trading empire. Now, their descendants are forging a new single malt empire in Scotland’s most innovative and exciting city. You can learn more about the unique story and regeneration project on a tour of The Clydeside Distillery, which obviously includes plenty of tastings. 

8. Ben Nevis Distillery

What Distilleries to try in Scotland: Ben Nevis Distillery

Travel to Fort William, the gateway to the Scottish Highlands, and you can hike to the summit of the tallest mountain in Britain. Looming over the town is Ben Nevis, which rises to a height of 1,345 meters.

On your way down the mountain, you can stop off at the Ben Nevis Distillery , which sits in the shadow of this iconic natural attraction. Alternatively, if you’re not in the mood for a long hike to the summit, why not spend the day tasting the excellent whisky instead of climbing a mountain?

This is one of Scotland’s oldest distilleries, with a distinguished history dating back to 1825 when it was founded by “Long John” McDonald, a descendent of rulers of the old Highland clans. The whisky was prepared using fresh water from the mountains, a tradition that continues to this day. 

The Ben Nevis Distillery produces a single malt whisky that typically is aged for 10 years. You can learn more at the distillery’s visitors center, where of course, you can also try their best whisky. 

9. Jura Distillery

Scotland Distilleries to try: Jura Distillery

The Inner Hebrides is home to many distilleries, but one of the most famous is the Jura Distillery . You’ll find the distillery on the island of Jura, which for most of the year, has a permanent population of less than 200, although numbers swell in the summer when the tourists arrive from the mainland. 

This isolation has always given Jura whisky a certain allure, and it’s an allure that’s matched by the whisky’s unique island-inspired flavors. Jura whiskies can be peaty, non-peaty, smoky, and even spicy, and there are a number of different varieties that you’ll need to try when you visit the distillery.

Actually reaching the Jura Distillery is all part of the experience, with the island being notoriously difficult to travel to, even when the waves are calm and the summer ferries are running. In the summer, you’ll first need to travel to Tayvallich, from where you can catch the community ferry. If that ferry isn’t running, you’ll need to travel to the island of Islay, then onto Jura. 

It’s well worth it to experience one of Scotland’s best and oldest whiskies, with the Jura Distillery having a long history dating back to 1810. 

10. Talisker Distillery

Cool Distilleries in Scotland: Talisker Distillery

The Isle of Skye is one of Scotland’s most popular destinations. It’s an almost mythical island where you can hike to spectacular, natural chimney stacks and swim in Fairy Pools. But as beautiful as the island is, the real reason you’re here is for the Isle of Skye whisky at Talisker. 

The fabled Talisker Distillery is the Isle of Skye’s oldest distillery, with a history that can be traced back to the 1830s. The distinctive Talisker whisky with its peaty flavors is produced using much the same process as the founders, Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill, used almost 200 years ago. The stills are replicas of the originals, and although the distillery was destroyed by a fire in 1960, it was restored as faithfully as possible. 

Fun Distilleries in Scotland: Talisker Distillery

The Talisker Distillery produces a number of different malts, with the classic 10-year-aged being the most popular (and it’s won awards). If you visit the distillery, you’ll be able to tour through the old production areas and see the impressive vaults, where much older barrels (some aged 35 years) are kept in the cool.  

11. Cardhu Distillery

Best Distilleries in Scotland: Cardhu Distillery

If you love a dram of whisky with a side of history, then you have to visit the Cardhu Distillery in Moray. This is one of Scotland’s most fascinating whisky stories, and unlike many other distilleries, this narrative is dominated by women. 

The Cardhu Distillery was founded by whisky smuggling duo Helen and John Cumming in 1824. As the story goes, Helen would produce whisky, run the distillery, and sell the bottles from their farmhouse – all while avoiding the police. Their daughter, Elizabeth, took over the family business (by now, it was a legitimate whisky producer) and greatly expanded their production levels. 

Cool Distilleries in Scotland: Cardhu Distillery

In 1893, they were bought out by Johnnie Walker, who continues to own the distillery today. Cardhu Whisky remains a distinct product, although you may recognize the aromas if you’re a Johnnie Walker fan because Cardhu is one of the whiskies used in classic Johnnie Walker blends! 

You can learn about this fascinating past on a distillery tour before sampling a few wee drams of the Cardhu Distillery’s excellent Speyside single malt whiskies, which are aged from 12 to 18 years. 

12. Glenmorangie Distillery

Must Visit Distilleries in Scotland: Glenmorangie Distillery

Up north in Ross-shire, they know how to make an excellent whisky, and nowhere else is quite so famous as the Glenmorangie Distillery . 

This is highland distillation at its finest. The Glenmorangie Distillery believes that their whisky has been produced using a similar recipe since as early as the 1730s, when the first recorded distillery was established on the Morangie Farm. They still use the same Tarlogie Spring, located up in the hills, as a source of freshwater for the distillation process today. 

Fun Distilleries in Scotland: Glenmorangie Distillery

Glenmorangie is classified as a single malt whisky, and uniquely, the copper stills where the whisky is produced are the tallest such stills to be found anywhere in Scotland. The distillery recently constructed a 20-meter-high, glass-covered still named the “Lighthouse,” as it aims to be at the forefront of distillation for many years to come.  

The Glenmorangie Distillery is an impressive sight indeed, where modern architecture blends with 18th-century stone walls. You can see it all in person when you take a tour of the distillery, finished off with, of course, a tasting that includes a few wee drams of their signature 18- and 25-year whiskies. 

13. Old Pulteney Distillery

The small, coastal town of Wick lies just 15 miles to the south of John O’Groats, the most northerly point in mainland Britain. That makes the Old Pulteney Distillery one of the most northerly (and windswept) in Scotland, and we know you’re going to love venturing here in search of their famous “maritime malt.”

Old Pulteney Whisky has been shaped by the sea salt and sea spray from the rough North Seas that whips through Wick, and for much of its long history, this was one of the most inaccessible places on the mainland. You don’t need to arrive here by boat as you did when the distillery was first founded in 1826, but you will feel the keen sense of isolation that lingers throughout the town as you head for a tasting. 

Old Pulteney whiskies are characterized by their salty, almost briny aromas, and the taste of this malt really is unique. The classic 12 years aged whisky is a beautiful whisky, but you can step it up with a dram of the 15 years, 18 years, and much rarer 25-year-aged barrels. 

14. Wolfburn Distillery

Scotland Distilleries to try: Wolfburn Distillery

If you’d love to visit the most northerly distillery on the mainland (not counting the Orkney Islands further to the north!), then you need to take a trip to the Wolfburn Distillery in Thurso. 

The Wolfburn Distillery first opened in 1821 and soon became known for its smooth blends distilled at the end of Britain. But the distillery was forced to close in the 1860s, and for over a century and a half, Wolfburn Whisky was all but forgotten. 

Must Visit Distilleries in Scotland: Wolfburn Distillery

But in 2013, the distillery was resurrected, and the name and brand were brought back to life in Thurso. The distillers at Old Pulteney weren’t too happy, though, as they could no longer claim to be the most northerly distillery on the mainland!

Wolfburn Whisky has more to its name than its location, though. True to their, at one point, lost heritage, the distillery takes a slow, methodical approach to distillation. Everything here is done by hand, including the bottling, and you’ll appreciate every sip when you see how much work and expertise goes into the process during your distillery tour.

15. The Isle of Harris Distillery

Best Distilleries in Scotland: Isle of Harris Distillery

The Isle of Harris Distillery is the most unusual addition to our list of the best distilleries to visit in Scotland because their most famous product isn’t whisky, but gin. Yes, gin is distilled in Scotland, too (not just whisky!), and if you make your way to Tarbert on the remote Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides, you can see how it’s done!

The Isle of Harris Distillery only opened in 2015, but its products draw on centuries of community, culture, and history on the island. The distillery was founded not just as a way to produce a delectable bottle of gin but to save the local islander community, which was slowly declining as the younger generations left due to a lack of work in the isolated region. 

Unique Distilleries in Scotland: Isle of Harris Distillery

The distillery now provides many locals with an opportunity to stay and also provides visitors with a fascinating tour through the gin distillation process. 

Isle of Harris gin is prepared using local seaweed, as well as other (more traditional) gin botanicals, including junipers and coriander. Every bottle is labeled by hand and quality checked by the master gin makers, so you can rest assured that this unique gin is of the finest quality. 

If you are more of a whisky drinker, though, then don’t worry because the Isle of Harris Distillery also has you covered. While gin is their most famous product, they do also distill a single malt whisky named The Hearach .

There you have it! The 15 best Scottish distilleries to visit in Scotland. What’s your favorite distillery in Scotland?

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The Best Distilleries in Scotland

Richard is an award-winning travel writer based in Southwest England who’s addicted to traveling off the beaten track. He’s traveled to 75 countries and counting in search of intriguing stories, unusual destinations, and cultural curiosities. Richard loves traveling the long way round over land and sea, and you’ll find him visiting quirky micronations and breakaway territories as often as he’s found lounging on a beach (which is a lot). When he’s not writing for BBC Travel, National Geographic, or Lonely Planet, you can find Richard writing for the Wandering Wheatleys or updating his off-beat travel blog, Travel Tramp.

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Whisky Distilleries in Scotland

There are nearly 150 active whisky distilleries spread across Scotland, which are split into five whisky-producing regions: Campbeltown, Highland, Islay, Lowland and Speyside. Where a whisky is made can have a huge bearing on its flavour, everything from the source of the water to the presence of peat in the local area. Browse the listings in our Scotland's Whisky Distillery Map below to learn more or find a behind-the-scenes whisky tour near you.

best distillery tour in scotland

Whisky samples at the Clydeside Distillery.

© Digital Tourism Scotland / Matt Davis

Map of Whisky Distilleries in Scotland

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Whisky Distillery Regions in Scotland

Scotland is home to many whisky distilleries and experiences, as well as dedicated whisky regions; the Highlands, the Lowlands, Isle of Islay, Campbeltown, and Speyside. Each boast their own unique flavours in their whiskies, all of which reflect the landscapes and surroundings in that region. Have a dram of them all to see which is your favourite!

best distillery tour in scotland

Lagavulin Distillery, Islay

Regarded by many as 'whisky island', Islay lies in the Inner Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland. It might be just 25 miles long and 15 miles wide, but Islay punches well above its weight for producing single malt Scotch whisky. There are ten whisky distilleries on the island, including the most recently opened Port Ellen . 

Most of Islay's original distilleries - some long since lost to history - started as farm distilleries and retreated to secluded glens and caves during the 17th century when the excise man came calling. You'll find distillery staff much more welcoming these days and it's well worth taking a tour around all of Islay's whisky distilleries.

Number of distilleries: 10 Oldest distillery: Bowmore (1779) Most popular distillery: Ardbeg Flavour profile: powerful, peaty, smoky, sweet, salty

best distillery tour in scotland

Whisky barrels at the Springbank Distillery, Campbeltown


Although Campbeltown is Scotland's smallest whisky-producing region, consisting of just three distilleries (in its heyday there were more than 30), its single malts boast unique characteristics that are considered by serious malt lovers to represent a distinct region in its own right. The distilleries that survive today produce some of the finest malts you're likely to find.

Springbank malts are robust and smoky with hints of their maritime roots. Glen Scotia malts are lighter with grassy notes. Glengyle's Kilkerran malts are lighter and sweeter, but with the distinctive oily and salty notes you'd expect from a Campbeltown whisky. 

Number of distilleries: 3 Oldest distillery: Springbank (1828) Most popular distillery: Springbank Flavour profile: fruity, peaty, sweet, smoky

best distillery tour in scotland

Glenfiddich Distillery

Speyside is whisky heaven! This breathtaking area sits in a fertile valley of rivers and secluded glens and accounts for half of Scotland's whisky production. 

Speyside is arguably the driest and warmest part of Scotland and the fertile farmlands in and around the region are ideal for growing barley, which when combined with soft local water tumbling down off the mountains, produces some of Scotland's best-loved malt whiskies.

Sample the remarkable flavours of Speyside's fine malts as you explore the region, and follow the world-famous Malt Whisky Trail™ - the world's ultimate Scotch whisky experience - comprising of nine 'must-visit' sites including seven working distilleries, Dallas Dhu historic distillery and the Speyside Cooperage - the only working cooperage in the UK.

Number of distilleries: 52 Oldest distillery: Strathisla (1786) Most popular distillery: Glenfiddich Flavour profile: fruity, sweet, spicy, vanilla

best distillery tour in scotland

Glenkinchie Distillery & Visitor Experience

The distilleries of the Lowland region can be found picturesquely set amongst the lush, rolling countryside of southern Scotland. Reflecting the gentle, rolling hillscapes and fertile farmlands, Lowland Scotch whiskies offer the perfect introduction to single malts if you have never tried this tipple before, due to their lighter, sweet and floral tones. As a result, malts from this region have earned themselves the collective nickname of the 'Lowland Ladies'.

The area has long, historic associations with whisky, with Friar John Cor producing whisky here in 1494 for King James IV. Although you'll find fewer distilleries here than regions further north, this is an area growing in whisky production. For example, whisky production returned to Glasgow in 2017 with the opening of the Clydeside Distillery and Glasgow Distillery Company . 

Number of distilleries: 22 (+6 grain distilleries) Oldest distillery: Bladnoch (1817) Most popular distillery: Glenkinchie Flavour profile: light, unpeated, floral, citrusy, sweet

best distillery tour in scotland

Isle of Raasay Distillery

The largest of Scotland’s whisky regions, the Highlands do not disappoint. With a vast range of changing landscapes, the whiskies you can find in this area of Scotland feature many aromas, both strong and gentle, fragrant notes, and tantalising tones.

There are many ways to experience the unique elements of the Highlands, from age old distilleries, educational tours, tastings and more, you’ve got plenty to get stuck into.

Explore the Highland whisky region

Scottish Whisky Distillery Tours

best distillery tour in scotland

The Strathisla Distillery

© VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins

Find a tour

There are many fantastic Scottish whisky tours to enjoy. Discover the art of constructing the barrel and find out how the master distillers craft the flavour to absolute perfection. Of course, you will get the chance to sample a dram or two! Each whisky is unique, so why not visit a few Scottish distilleries and see if you can find your favourite? 

What's new in the world of whisky?

For a traditional Scottish drink going back centuries, there's always something new to discover.

best distillery tour in scotland

Rosebank Distillery

Known as the 'King of the Lowlands', Rosebank Distillery will reopen its doors to visitors on 7 June 2024.

Stirling Distillery

Stirling Distillery have filled their first whisky cask - the first time whisky has been made in the city for 171 years!

best distillery tour in scotland

The Hearach

Sample the long-awaited release of single malt whisky from the Isle of Harris Distillery.

best distillery tour in scotland

New Whisky Tasting Events at Dewar's

Tours of this traditional distillery take place throughout the day, and include options for whisky aficionados.

best distillery tour in scotland

Blackness Bay Distillery

Located next to the Lobster Pot restaurant, book a tour at the Blackness Bay Distillery who distil whisky and craft a unique variety of rum styles.

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5 of the Best Whisky Distillery Tours in Scotland

Immerse yourself in some of the best whisky distillery tours in Scotland , on your pilgrimage to our spirtual lands. Scotland has over 130 malt whisky distilleries and many of them offer fantastic guided tours. We have listed some of the best tours below where each distillery offers a unique experience or special tastings for the real whisky connoisseurs.

best distillery tour in scotland

A Treasure Trove of the Top Scotland Whisky Tour Experiences

When you think of Scotland, what images come flooding into your mind? It may be our bonnie hairy heilan’ coos, or the rolling hills. Perhaps your mind drifts off to the magnificent mountains and lochs, Scots pipe bands or the history laden castles and rugged coastlines. I’d bet my centuries old sporran though, that our golden nectar, our famous national drink, Whisky comes near, if not top, of that list of images and associations of Scotland.

So whether you like a wee dram of a good malt, or just curious as to how it is distilled and produced, we have selected for you, what is arguably the best whisky tours available in Scotland, created for you by a true Scot, who also enjoys the occasional wee nip o’ the guid stuff. Pour yerself a wee dram, sit back, and let us take you on a virtual tour of these braw distilleries.

Auchentoshan Whisky Distillery, Lowlands

best distillery tour in scotland

Auchentoshan Distillery Tour

Auchentoshan is considered one of the best lowland whisky distillery tours in the west of Scotland. The distillery, on the outskirts of Clydebank, is known as “Glasgow’s Malt Whisky” due to its close proximity to Glasgow.

You can discover the Unique Auchentoshan Triple Distilling Process on a whisky tour out of Glasgow. This local malt, has often been described as the “the breakfast whisky” due to it’s sweet, smooth and delicate flavours.

The Auchentoshan Ultimate Experience tour is £55 per person, taking you on a journey to parts of the distillery, not normally accessible to the general public. During the 2-hour ultimate distillery experience, you will sample whisky straight from the cask, and taste a variety of exclusive Auchentoshan whiskies.

As an added bonus, you also have the opportunity to sample the amazing Auchentoshan Whisky Cocktail. It’s a real imaginative twist, with a local Glasgow theme combining whisky and ale. Ask for a ‘hauf an’ a hauf’ in any Glasgow licensed premises and you will be served a whisky with an ale chaser. Find out more about the Auchentoshan cocktails and other Auchentoshan whisky recipes here. 

Alternative Auchentoshan Origin Tours are available, including the Classic Tour (60 mins with one whisky sample at £18 pp), and the Auchentoshan Essence Tour (90 mins with 4 whiskies to taste at £45 pp).

For an additional £90 you can fill your own bottle of Single Malt Whisky straight from the cask, making this an ultimate souvenir or perfect gift to take home from your memorable Auchentoshan whisky distillery tour.

Ballindalloch Whisky Distillery, Speyside

best distillery tour in scotland

Ballindalloch Single Malt Whisky Distillery Tour

The Ballindalloch Single Malt Distillery in the Speyside whiskey region, offers far more than most distillery tours. True whisky connoisseurs can indulge themselves in a real ‘hands on’ whisky experience, allowing them to be involved in the art of distilling whisky for the entire day. This amazing, not to be missed 5-Star experience, must be pre-booked well in advance. This whisky tour is for a maximum of 2 people and the price is £195 per person for the full day.

Alternatively, the Ballindalloch Distillery, offers another superb shorter tour, lasting approximately 3 hours. This option is available at £35 per person. This top rated distillery tour takes place in the renovated farm steading next to the golf course, on the Macpherson-Grant ancestral family estate.

Balvenie Whisky Distillery, Speyside

best distillery tour in scotland

Balvenie Whisky Distillery Tour

Immerse yourself in the old worldly charm of the Balvenie Whisky Distillery in Dufftown, Speyside. The Balvenie whisky distillery tour offers visitors a completely unique experience. It is the only traditional distillery in the Scottish Highlands, which still has their own working floor maltings and active cooperage onsite.

There are only 3 whisky distillery tours each day, which are limited to a maximum of 8 people. It is a truly intimate small group experience, which pays attention to fine detail on an exceptional whisky distilling master class.  

This in depth whisky distillery tour, lasts approximately 3 hours, lasting longer than most other distillery tours. The cost is £50 per person, and pre-booking is advisable to avoid disappointment.

You can take advantage of bottling your own Balvenie direct from the whisky cask in Warehouse 24. This exclusive part of the Balvenie Distillery Tour, costs an additional £30 per person.

The Balvenie offers whisky connoisseurs from all around the world one of the most informative, and arguably one of the best whisky distillery tour experiences available in Scotland. For more information on booking a Balvenie Whisky Distillery Tour click here .

Bowmore Whisky Distillery, Isle of Islay

best distillery tour in scotland

Bowmore Whisky Distillery Tour

The Bowmore Craftsman’s Tour on the magical ‘whisky’ Island of Islay is an absolute must visit for the peaty whisky lover. 

The Craftsman’s tour is a fabulous fun, memory making experience. This tour offers you the opportunity of participating in turning and raking the barley, shovelling peat into the kiln and of course, tasting the best of the Bowmore

Unlock Bowmore’s whisky secrets , in the hidden depths of the world’s oldest stone maturation warehouses, aptly named the No. 1 Vaults.

Discover the fascinating onsite kiln, where peat fuels the furnace, enhancing the smoky flavours of the Bowmore whisky.  

Extract your own dram of whisky straight from the cask, using a special device known as a ‘whisky thief’. You can then bottle and name your own unique bottle of Bowmore.

Founded in 1779, Bowmore is the oldest distillery on Islay. It’s Gaelic motto, ‘Fioghinn agus Soir Bhuanaghadh’ means ‘full and excellent quality’, just like its engaging whisky distillery tour.

You may even wish to further expand on this amazing distillery experience, and book yourself into one of their onsite,19th century authentic self-catering Bowmore cottages.

Dating from the 1840s, these unique cottages are luxurious and highly sought after. Therefore, pre booking is highly recommended. The accommodation ranges from the Distillery House, once home to the Distillery Cooper, to the old Maltman’s Cottage, thus offering you a glimpse at the lives of the Bowmore distillery workers and their families.

The Craftsman tour costs £55 per person and lasts approximately 3 hours.

Springbank Whisky Distillery, Campbelltown

best distillery tour in scotland

Springbank Whisky Distillery Tour

The Springbank Distillery in Campbelltown, offers a quintessential whisky experience aptly named the “Wee Toon Walking & Warehouse Tour”.

This fantastic whisky tour incorporates a walk through the town, visiting both the Springbank and Glengyle whisky distilleries.

Discover fascinating stories with your whisky tour guide,as you learn how Campbeltown was considered the Whisky Capital of the World,and the origins of the famous Scottish song ‘ Campbeltown Loch’. 

This unique experience includes a delicious Scottish Platter Lunch in the tasting room, whisky tastings direct from the cask, a complimentary glass and a miniature whisky bottle to take home from each distillery. This spiritual tour costs £85 per person, requires a minimum of 4 people, and must be booked in advance.

Alternative Springbank Whisky Tours are also available. You can find more information here. 

The distillery also offers a unique opportunity to experience whisky distilling first hand in their Springbank Whisky School. Over 5 fascinating days, you can participate in all aspects of crafting whisky from floor maltings, distilling, filling casks and bottling single malt whisky. This is arguably one of the finest whisky experiences available to lovers of the finest amber liquid, available in Scotland.

Visit Scotland’s Best Whisky Distilleries

We hope you have enjoyed your wee virtual jaunt around Scotland’s most famous and popular whisky distilleries.We welcome your thoughts on our article, and be happy to include suggestions of other distilleries which offer whisky tours that go above and beyond the norm.

We would also be delighted to offer you our services, and take your group on a whisky tour to your favourite distilleries from Glasgow or Edinburgh.

You may also be interested in our Speyside whisky distillery itineraries . These tours can be tailor made for you and your group to maximise your whole whisky tour experience. These could be from a one day event, or multi day, incorporating the islands and off the beaten path locations. A wee bonus, you will have your very own kilted piper as your guide and chauffeur.

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Scottish Routes


Small group whisky tours in scotland, our most popular tours.

  • Map Marker Islay
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Four-Day Islay Whisky Tour

This tour takes you to a Scottish island paradise. Islay is home to stunning scenery, ancient history, traditional culture and nine of Scotland’s finest whisky distilleries.

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Five-Day Islay Whisky Tour

The ultimate Islay tour is for those who want to experience as much of Islay as possible. We visit every distillery on the island, taste a range of drams and explore its secret spots.


Heart We love what we do : We all love being able to show our guests around the incredible country we call home.

We take you off the beaten track : If you want to meet, eat and drink with the locals, a Scottish Routes tour is for you.

Star Outline Local knowledge and expertise : We are a small Scottish family-owned company with over 25 years’ experience, and we can’t wait to share it with you.

Users Our guides : We believe our local guides are second to none. Our team is always ready to go the extra mile to ensure you have the trip of a lifetime.

Checkmark All tours and tastings are included : We’ve designed extra special and unique experiences at each of the distilleries we visit and it’s all included in the cost of your tour.

Wine It’s all taken care of : We’ve organized everything to be as low stress as possible. You can relax, enjoy the whisky and let us do the driving.


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9 of the Best Whisky Distillery Tours in Scotland

With over 120 active distilleries, Scotland is a whisky lover’s paradise. Discover, taste and enjoy Scotland’s national drink with a distillery tour on your next trip to Scotland.

One of Scotland’s largest exports, the never-ending passion for single malt whisky is evident as many whisky fans from around the world make the pilgrimage to Scotland to uncover what goes into making their favourite golden dram. Take a distillery tour and discover everything about the whisky making process, from mashing and fermenting to distilling and maturation. And don’t forget tasting! No visit would be complete without experiencing Scotland’s most popular produce .

1. The Macallan, Aberlour

Founded in 1824, The Macallan is not only one of the most iconic whiskies in the world, but it is also now famed for its spectacular distillery visitor centre. Thanks to a £140m revamp in 2018, the building is a stunning piece of architecture celebrated with many design awards. Cut into the slope of the land, the distillery’s grass topped roof and futuristic curves merge into the Scottish landscape. Visitors can learn about the history of the brand and the production journey. After that, don’t forget to visit the Macallan Bar and browse over 950 of the rarest Macallan.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Cameron Ross Ewen (@thescotchcam)

2. Glengoyne Distillery, Glasgow

Situated only 40 minutes from Glasgow, the Glengoyne distillery feels worlds away from the bustling city . Established in 1833, the picturesque distillery sits at the foot of Dumgoyne hill on the edge of the Campsie Fells and is surrounded by beautiful Scottish countryside. Glengoyne offers several types of tours to suit any level of knowledge, as well as masterclasses and one-off events.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Jamie Mercer (@jamie_m_75)

3. Glenmorangie, Tain

Located about one-hours’ drive north of Inverness , Glenmorangie is a popular distillery to visit in the Highlands of Scotland. Established in 1843, the distillery features some of the tallest stills in Scotland. With a wide range of tours, discover everything there is to know about this popular brand, before enjoying a tasting of the award-winning liquid.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Joella Doobrow (@rovingjo)

4. Auchentoshan, Glasgow

Situated just 20 minutes from Glasgow, Auchentoshan is easy to reach by car or public transport. One of the few lowland malts left in the region, this distillery produces some of the lightest whisky in Scotland and is known for its smooth and delicate taste. A wide range of tour packages are available, the most popular being a 60-minute tour and tasting. In addition, the distillery also offers special tours where you can go behind the scenes, have private access, or bottle your very own whisky.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by OngewoonLekker (@ongewoonlekker)

5. Laphroig, Isle of Islay

Islay is a beautiful Scottish island famed for its whisky production and currently home to nine working distilleries. Established in 1825, Laphroig is one of the most famous Islay scotches. A must-visit for anyone who loves peated whisky. With various tour packages available, one of the most popular is a four-and-a-half-hour adventure that takes you through the distillery, out to the peat bogs and over to the distillery’s water source. In addition, the visitor centre also has a lounge bar where you can relax and unwind with your favourite dram or cocktail.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Islay Drone Photography (@islaydronephotography)

6. Highland Park, Orkney Mainland

Set in the remote isle of Orkney, Highland Park was founded in 1798 and is the most northerly large whisky distillery in Scotland. An insightful trip for any whisky die-hards, the distillery still retains a lot of its traditional processes, including 100-year-old kilns and a traditional malting floor, one of the few distilleries still to do this on site. The brand places a firm emphasis on its Nordic Viking roots, clearly seen in its product names, packaging and daily tours.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Myles Campbell 🇬🇧 (@smiilesm)

7. Old Pulteney, Wick

Founded in 1826, the Pulteney Distillery is located in the town of Wick and is one of the most northerly distilleries on the British mainland. Situated near Scotland’s popular North Coast 500 route , Wick is a popular stopping point due to the ancient ruins, historic castles and stunning scenery and wildlife in the area. Make a stop at the distillery to discover more about this ‘maritime malt’, which is said to take inspiration and flavours from the coast. A wide range of tours are available, covering the distillery’s history and buildings, and also include an enticing complimentary sample.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Old Pulteney Whisky (@oldpulteneymalt)

8. Talisker, Isle of Skye

The oldest working distillery on the breath-taking Isle of Skye , Talisker is set on the shores of Loch Harport in the village of Carbost. Founded in 1830, the distillery is set amongst the most extreme Scottish landscape with the rugged Black Cuillin mountain range visible in the distance. The Isle of Skye and the distillery can get very busy with tourists in summer months, so it is advised to book a tour in advance.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by l u c y c o l l i n s (@lucyeacollins)

9. Jura, Isle of Jura

A small remote island found off the West Coast of Scotland is home to the Jura Distillery. Only 60 miles from the mainland, the island feels otherworldly. Once described by George Orwell as ‘the most un-get-atable place’, it was on Jura where he completed his famous novel ‘1984’. Founded in 1810, the distillery endured various periods of misuse, until it was relaunched in 1963. With daily distillery tours, tasting packages and an annual summer whisky festival, you won’t regret making the journey to this unique island.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Timur Valiev (@zloitimur)

Discover the best of Scotland’s whisky for yourself:

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10 Best Scotch Whisky Distilleries You Can’t Miss in 2024

10 Best Scotch Whisky Distilleries in Scotland You Can’t Miss On Your Next Trip

Top Scotch Distilleries to Visit in 2024

Scotland is a land of enchantment. Few countries give off an aura of awe the way that Scotland does. Walk atop the footsteps of old through wild stories of intrigue, pristine wilderness, and challenging history. What better way to take it all in than with a few wee drams of Scotch? Here, it’s possible to sip on a breathtaking distilled spirit, not far from where ancient battles once took place.

Scotland Travel Logistics

Best Scotch Distilleries to Visit Around Scotland | Winetraveler.com

Navigating the countryside of the United Kingdom by car can be both an invigorating and relaxing experience. We highly recommend driving, or hiring private transportation so you have the flexibility to travel at your own pace. If you’re arriving in Scotland by plane, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports are the largest and offer direct flights from several major US hubs. If you’re already in Europe, flights are also available into Aberdeen, Glasgow Prestwick, and Inverness.  You can check current flight deals into any of these airports here .

Once you’ve decided what region(s) in Scotland you’d like to visit, consider renting a car and compare prices on Kayak to get around. Browse other rental company options here. If you’re driving, be sure not to over-indulge and stay within the legal limit of alcohol consumption.

Alternatively, consider booking a day or multi-day guided tour or private driver around Scotland. We include several highly-rated tours and experiences you can book throughout this guide. 

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In this guide, we recommend 10 scotch whisky distilleries spread across Scotland that offer unique experiences. In the future, we'll cover some of the best scotch distilleries specific to each of the 5 scotch whisky regions. Subscribe to our blog for more recommendations and inspiration. It's free!

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What is Scotch Whisky?

When you begin traveling around Scotland and drinking whisky, one of the first things you’re going to learn is that there isn’t just one type. In fact, there are 5 different classifications of Scotch Whisky . These include single malt Scotch , blended malt Scotch , single grain Scotch , blended grain Scotch and blended Scotch . Each version is produced using different ingredients and techniques, but we’ll leave those details to the distilleries themselves as not to spoil anything.

READ MORE: Learn All About Scotch Whisky: The Complete Guide from Grain to Glass

Scotch Whisky Regions and District Map

Top 10 Scotch Whisky Distilleries To Visit in Scotland

As mentioned earlier, there are 5 different Scotch-producing regions around Scotland. These include the Highlands , the Lowlands , Speyside , Campbeltown and Islay . Each region offers visitors a different travel experience along with different styles and flavors of whisky to try. The distilleries mentioned below provide high-quality visitation options in each area. There is no right or wrong way to go about exploring Scotland, but perhaps the locations we mention below will give you a starting point.

1. Glenmorangie House – Taste & Stay

  • Region / District: Northern Highlands
  • Founded: 1843
  • Popular Among Guests: Service, Remoteness, Scenery, Accommodation

Our first recommendation on the list combines the opportunity to try a variety of Scotch whiskies and the ability to stay on the property of a famous producer — Glenmorangie. If you’re into Scotch, you’ve probably seen the brand name around the top shelves of your favorite bars and local liquor stores. 

There are quite literally, very few distilleries that offer accommodation in Scotland. The Glenmorangie House is a boutique accommodation near the distillery situated within the Highlands region, in north-central Scotland just north of Inverness. Far removed from the hustle and bustle of a busy city, you’ll have a chance to experience a true taste of Scottish hospitality in an intimate and historic setting. Aside from whisky tastings and tours, you’ll be able to enjoy rounds of golf, exquisite cuisine, service, stargazing opportunities, and much more.

2. Isle of Raasay Distillery – Taste & Stay

  • Region / District: Western Highlands
  • Founded: 2014
  • Popular Among Guests: Decor, Great Tours, Cocktails, Chocolate Pairings, Scenery, Luxury, Proximity to Isle of Skye

Also located within the Highlands region of Scotland is Raasay Distillery and Hotel . This gorgeous property is actually the only location in the entire country where guests can stay in a building that also produces whisky. While Raasay is within the boundaries of the Highlands region, it’s on the west coast of Scotland, just north of the Isle of Skye, a popular and beautiful destination for international travelers. 

From the distillery tour to the service offered by the staff, everything at Raasay speaks to a bespoke experience. The views are incredible and the whisky is better. Be sure to schedule a quick 25-minute ferry ride to the Isle of Skye during your visit.

3. Laphroaig Distillery

  • Region / District: Islay
  • Founded: 1815
  • Popular Among Guests: Whisky Quality, Service, History, Friendly, Informative Tours

Laphroaig fans and newcomers alike will be thrilled to know that the company has once again opened its doors to visitors. This producer is well-known in the whisky world as producing one of the smokiest styles out there. 

Located in Scotland’s smallest whisky-producing region, you’ll ig in the Southwest corner of the country within the district of Islay. Customers frequently rave about not only the quality of spirit being made here, but also the warmth of the staff on site. If you’re looking to visit a distillery on Islay, Laphroaig should not be missed to discover one of the truest expressions of malt whiskey.

NOTE: Social distancing and safety precautions are being observed at most distilleries. Be sure to reserve your tasting or tour experiences ahead of time.

4. Glenkinchie Distillery

  • Region / District: Lowlands
  • Founded: 1837
  • Popular Among Guests: Beautiful Grounds, Nice Bar Setting, Great Whiskies, Tour Variety, Museum

If you’re staying in Edinburgh, Glenkinchie provides an accessible opportunity to visit a very high-quality Lowlands producer. In fact, it’s one of only 6 producers residing in the Lowlands district. Guests frequently rave about the beautiful grounds, and the property is also home to a malt whisky museum. They offer several experiences designed to tickle all 5 of your senses that go above and beyond your typical Scotch tour, immersing you in the experience. Glenkinchie is a must-visit for a day trip outside of Edinburgh for Scotch enthusiasts.

You can access the property via shuttle bus from the Edinburgh city center, rent a car or choose a day tour that includes Glenkinchie as part of the route. 

5. Glen Scotia Distillery

  • Region / District: Campbeltown
  • Founded: 1832
  • Popular Among Guests: Unique, Historic, Great Whiskies, Honey

For the ambitious and curious spirits traveler, Glen Scotia is the last of just 3 distilleries still open within the whisky-producing district of Campbeltown. Though production volume has grown since its humble founding in 1832, Glen Scotia prides itself on crafting whisky with a sense of place. The facility itself has not changed much over the past couple of centuries, and its curators put forth every effort to maintain its historic buildings and maritime essence. They also create more than just whisky these days, with two beehives out in the courtyard another form of liquid gold flows on this property.

6. Glenfarclas Distillery

  • Region / District: Speyside
  • Founded: 1836
  • Popular Among Guests: Family Owned, Beautiful Setting, Great Tours, Friendly Staff, Free Tours

For a boutique visitation and tasting experience, consider visiting Glenfarclas in Speyside. They are one of the few family-run operations still active in the district. Recently re-opened for visitation in July, 2021, Glenfarclas runs rampant with hospitality and prides itself on being one of the first Scotch distilleries to open its doors to visitors back in 1973. 

Glenfarclas is ideal for guests who are passionate about learning about the history of whisky production through one family’s eyes. Note that the facility is rather old, and a complete tour involves climbing a few sets of stairs. Currently, their classic tour is available to visitors at no cost, but reservations should be made by contacting [email protected] .

7. Highland Park

  • Region / District: North Highlands (Orkney)
  • Founded: 1798
  • Popular Among Guests: Historic, Beautiful Setting, Landscape, Great Service, Friendly Staff, Great Whiskies, Unique

If you’re a history buff, especially if you’re into Viking history, then Highland Park is worth a visit. Said to have been conquered by the Vikings as early as 800AD, the Isle of Orkey where Highland Park resides has been under the influence of the Norse for centuries. There’s a good chance that the folks you encounter on the property are of Viking descent, but we’ll let the staff get into more detail on that.

This distillery is worth a visit simply for the excuse to visit the far North of Scotland. There is a profound sense of beauty emitted by the ruggedness of the landscape. A vibe that we’ve found to be incomparable to other locations around the country. No other Scotch distillery can be found North of Highland Park, and should you choose to take the journey, it’s also worth stopping by Old Pulteney Distillery on your way up. Another producer that prides itself on being intimately connected with a maritime influence.

8. Blair Athol

  • Region / District: Eastern Highlands
  • Popular Among Guests: Beautiful Grounds, Unique, Great Service, Tour Quality, Tour Variety

Blair Athol is one of those distilleries that people visit just for the ambiance. From the friendliness of the staff to the beautiful aesthetics of the grounds, you don’t need to be a whisky lover to have a great time here. Located at “The Gateway to the Scottish Highlands,” in the beautiful and historic town of Pitlochry, guests can choose from a range of tour offerings. Whether you’re new to whisky or consider yourself to be an aficionado, get your palate wet with their signature tour, or step your game up with the Manager’s Tasting to try some of their older, more rare whiskies, in some cases straight from the cask.

9. Dewar’s Aberfeldy

  • Region / District:  Highlands
  • Founded: 1896

While quality whisky production is important to us, one aspect we like to highlight when we recommend a place to visit on Winetraveler is the setting. Dewar’s Aberfeldy hits the mark on both fronts. It’s also not too far from the aforementioned Blair Athol. Located in the countryside on the outskirts of Aberfeldy — one of our favorite picturesque towns in all of Scotland — you can find Dewar’s quaintly propped up against the Pitilie Burn river.

A variety of tours are offered here, ranging from the more high-level Aberfeldy Tour, the Cask Tasting Tour to the Connoisseur Tour, depending how ambitious you’re feeling on any given day. Whichever you choose, be sure to leave some time during your day to explore the countryside of Perthshire, which offerings scenery that is nothing short of magical.

10. The McCallan Estate

  • Founded: 1824
  • Popular Among Guests: Architecture, Luxury, Iconic

Any discerning whisky enthusiast is familiar with McCallan. It’s perhaps the most iconic Scotch whisky you can try, and the property itself is just as impressive. Even those who aren’t whisky fans visit the McCallan property just to marvel at its architecture. Inside and out, the scale and attention to detail put into this recently refurbished estate is mind-boggling. This is no longer the quaint distillery it once was 70 years ago. 

Visiting McCallan offers a more upscale, corporate experience. The Elchies Brasserie is available to book a luxurious Scottish dining experience in Speyside. Alternatively, you can spend time at the estate bar, which offers opportunities to taste some of their rarest bottles dating back 70 years. The interior is beautifully designed and its circular structure provides unmatched views of the surrounding Speyside region at elevation. Tours of the distillery, the estate, and even fishing experiences are also available to visitors depending on availability.

NOTE: McCallan is not open year-round. You can find visitation dates below. It is highly recommended that you book your visit in advance as they cannot guarantee walk-in space.

  • 2nd July – 29th August 2021  – Friday, Saturday and Sunday only
  • 4th September – 12th December 2021  – Saturday and Sunday only
  • 15th January-11th December 2022  – Saturday and Sunday only

Scotch Whisky Tours & Day Trips

If you’d prefer to explore Scotland in a guided fashion, or simply would prefer to hire a driver, Winetraveler recommends a number of highly-rated companies that are oftentimes willing to tailor an experience, day trip or complete itinerary to according to your preferences. Here are some of our top choices below:

Our favorite way to explore Scotland and have flexibility is to simply hire a local Scot and be driven around. Work with Chauffeur Cars Scotland to tailor a trip to your preference for whatever duration of time you choose to stay in country. Or, take a one-day guided trip with Highland Private Tours .

If you’re planning on staying in Edinburgh and using it as a home base and you’d like to experience Islay, definitely consider booking a 4-day trip with Scottish Routes Limited . This is the perfect option for those who don’t want to handle the logistics of planning a trip to Scotland themselves. Plus, it’s one of the most highly-rated companies in the business. Distillery stops include but aren’t limited to Lagavulin, Laphroaig, and Ardbeg. A three-night hotel stay is included either at the Bowmore House or Freewinds on Islay, plus breakfast each morning. You’ll be guided by a local, and drinks are included. Note the tour/transportation portion of this trip is not private. You’ll be traveling with a small group.

Take a day trip off the beaten path with Highland Premium Travel and explore the nooks and crannies of Northern Scotland. This is a small (in some cases private), guided experience led by a local that leaves from Inverness and includes all transport. Visit locations including Loch Fleet Nature Reserve and Dornoch. You’ll end your day trip exploring Glenmorangie Distillery.

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Loyd & Townsend Rose


The magic of distilleries has never ceased to capture the imagination of the world over and over; and invoke a sense of the mystical and the unknown, even though the process remains largely the same today as it was over a thousand years ago.

Scotch whiskey is one of Scotland’s most famous products and there are over 120 whiskey distilleries in Scotland.  Most of our visitors to Scotland and Ireland make time for a distillery visit during their stay here and whether they are bottling, blending or creating their own labels, each and every one shares the same delight in one of the Scot’s most traditional of practices.  The main whiskey regions of Scotland are The Highlands, The Lowlands, Islay and Campbeltown.

There are two main types of Scotch whiskey, single malt and single grain.  Malt whiskey is produced from 100% malted barley and blended whiskies are made from a mixture of malt and grain whiskey.

Most importantly, enjoying and sampling some of the best whisky that Scotland produces is a lot of fun and educational too.  These are some of my favorite distilleries, and best distilleries to visit in Scotland, in no particular order, they also offer the best whiskey tours in scotland :


Found underneath the Cuillin hills of Skye, this distillery boasts a very peaty and full-bodied malt from their copper stills.  The dramatic coastal scenery and wildlife are part  of  Talisker’s  charm and they offer a decent tour too.  Even better, it’s close by to the Kinloch Lodge and wonderful Three Chimneys, a particular favorite of mine.


Possibly the smallest distillery in Scotland.  Edradour is famous for it’s Highland single malt whiskey.  Found in 1825 and tucked away in the heart of Pitlochry, it also has a delightful shop and visitor experience and remains a bit of a hidden gem for me.  If you’re staying at  Kinross House , this is an ideal distillery to visit.


This is well worth the trip.  Orkney may be almost 310 miles from Edinburgh and  Highland Park  is certainly the most northerly distillery in Scotland but it really does produce the most fabulous whiskey.  Their 12 year old with a touch of peat and smokey tones is divine and the tasting makes visiting this distillery a real delight.  It is also a stone’s throw from the fabulous Balfour Castle on Shapinsay.  We can organize some fabulous Orkney whiskey tours.


Steeped in rich history,  Lindores Abbey  is known as the “Spriritual home of Scotch Whiskey” – believed to be the first recorded distillery to produce what is known today as whiskey.  The Abbey has housed Kings, Princes – even William Wallace, and in September 2017, they throw open their doors to the public for the very first time, bringing whiskey home.  This is the brainchild of dear friends of mine, Helen and Drew MacKenzie Smith and at LTR we wish them all the best.  Guests of Birkhill Castle will be able to easily make a trip to Lindores Abbey.


On the southern bank of the Moray Firth comes the golden nectar that has been crafted by the men of Tain for centuries.  The Glenmorangie Distillery tour is a gentle amble through time and shows off the distillery and warehouses with rare access.  If you overindulge, don’t worry because Glenmorangie House, next door, offers a very comfortable stay.


In common with the rest of the famous Islay family of distilleries,  Ardbeg  stands out, for me, as one of the greatest distilleries on earth.  As good on its own or splashed over oysters, Ardbeg whiskey evokes an unsurpassed flavor and the stillery offers a fascinating insight into their secret world.


This special Speyside distillery not only offers visitors behind-the-scenes insight but also a vast range of tastings crafted from in-house floor maltings and locally hand-cut peat.   Balvenie  is a true delight and a fun trip to make if you’re staying at Gordon Castle which is just 1/2 hours drive away.


I have very fond memories of visiting this  distillery  with a client some years ago for a very personal tour conducted by the owner.  We arrived by helicopter, blended, bottled and labelled our own whiskey and, after an excellent lobster lunch, we were very sorry to leave.  My client had ordered a cask which is still sitting there and he visits from time to time to check that the Angel’s share has not completely evaporated.  A really magic place.


Nestled deep in the wild and beautiful Speyside valley,  Glenlivet Distillery is home to the production of its namesake and has grown to become one of the biggest single malt distilleries in order to keep up with global demand.  Their single malt whisky is the biggest selling in US and their distillery doesn’t disappoint.  The intimate tours are both educational and inspiring.  Kincardine Castle is next door and offers first class exclusive accommodation to the weary reveler.


This is a great little distillery, just south of Edinburgh, offering the best of lowland malts.  An exceptional visitor experience kicking off with an exhibition on the Malting Floors, a tour of the distillery production areas and finishing with more tasting.  The stunning, Adam-designed  Gilmerton House  is a 10 minute drive and well worth a stay either before or after a visit to  Glenkinchie .


As Knockando say themselves, they do whiskey “a little differently”.  Their award winning anCnoc (meaning “the hill”) is a refreshingly modern take on the traditional production methods and the result is a lighter-tasting single malt. Despite being a small distillery, Knockando is forward-thinking and the perfect embodiment of a modern establishment.  Kids get down there now.


Laphroaig , for me, offers one of the best distillery tours in Scotland.  Expertly run, the staff at Laphroaig are informative and passionate about their craft.  Check out the gift shop and make sure you grab your national flag and map, set out onto the bogs and claim your very own plot in a fun twist to the day.  Modern and up-scale, Laphroaig ticks all the boxes for the present day whiskey lover.


Possibly one of my favorite distilleries.  The sheer name conjures up such wonderful images of the world-famous whiskey and the distillery more than lives up to its reputation.  Rich, smoky and full bodied,  Lagavulin  is hard to beat.  The Queen of the Hebrides, as Islay is often referred to, doesn’t disappoint with this gem as it is set fairly and squarely at the heart of it.


One of the highest distilleries in Scotland, the fabulously remote  Dalwhinnie  does whisky with a twist – combining their 15 year old single malt with … handmade chocolates!  If you don’t have time for a tour of the distillery, make sure you have time for a dram and a chocolate before you leave.  A distillery with real charm and a great pit-stop of your’re on your way north.


The Macallan is the last distillery on my list of Scottish distilleries, but by no means the least.  Its reputation proceeds it and, for most of my clients outside of the UK, is the most well-known.  Set in the heart of Speyside, the  Macallan  use uniquely shaped copper stills in order to have maximum contact with the whiskey.  This, alongside many other Macallan secrets learnt on their exclusive tour, combines to make the world-famous flavor that we all know so well.  It is very well worth taking a Macallan distillery tour if you’re staying nearby.

As you can see we are passionate about the whiskey produced in this wonderful country.  We get great pleasure and satisfaction from planning wonderful vacations round Scotland for our clients and including visits to some of the best distilleries in Scotland.  Please get in touch with us by email at  [email protected]  or phone  + 44 (0) 1835 824642  to see how we can help plan a really fabulous trip for you and your family or friends so that you can visit some of the best whiskey distilleries in Scotland.

best distillery tour in scotland

Annabel started out her working life in the youth development and adventure travel industry.  She planned and organised for many groups of school children to take part in expeditions to developing countries around the world.  In 2008, she started working for Loyd & Townsend Rose and is now responsible for the smooth running and development of the website and other marketing aspects of the company.

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Whisky is almost synonymous with Scotland.  It is the national drink and the country’s biggest export.  A distillery tour is a great way to get to know this evocative spirit.  Many of the distilleries across Scotland’s five whisky producing areas are located in stunning locations, adding to the enjoyment of the experience.

Make a pilgrimage to one of these beautiful spots and take a distillery tour for the very best way to enjoy Scotch Whisky.


Tain, Ross-shire IV19 1PZ.    01862 892043.   https://www.glenmorangie.com/en/

Speyside is the biggest whisky region in terms of production; half of all Scottish distilleries can be found here.  Glenmorangie is a classic example of a Speyside malt.   This multi-national brand is still produced in a picturesque distillery on the banks of the Dornoch Firth.  There are three tours to choose from, ranging from £7 to £120.  You will be guided around the distillery – which holds the tallest stills in Scotland – and the warehouses to learn about all stages of the whisky making process from mashing and fermenting to distilling and maturation.  Call in advance to book a tour, especially in low season.

A post shared by Highland Tours Inverness (@highlandtoursinverness) on Aug 12, 2015 at 8:40pm PDT

Dalwhinnie, PH19 1AA.  01540 672 219.   https://www.discovering-distilleries.com/ dalwhinnie

Dalwhinnie is a light heathery whisky – not typically representative of the Highland malts (of which it is one).  The distillery is owned by Diageo (and is one of the global drink brand’s highland single malts range).  Don’t let that put you off though – a more atmospheric distillery tour you’d be hard pressed to find.  The Dalwhinnie distillery is the highest-elevation working distillery in Scotland, nestled in the Cairngorn National Park.  Tours are £10 per person and include chocolate as well as whisky tasting.  Call in advance to check the distillery is open, especially in winter months when the weather can be severe.  It was lightly snowing when we visited in late autumn which leant an extra beauty to the approach and an extra warmth to the whisky we tasted upon the tour’s conclusion.

A post shared by Sara (@blackiris_sara) on Aug 13, 2017 at 7:33am PDT

Dumgoyne, Near Killearn, Glasgow, G63 9LB.  01360 550 254.   https://www.glengoyne.com/

Glengoyne is another unrepresentative Highland malt; it is the only Highland single malt not to use peat during the drying process.  As a result, its whisky doesn’t have the smoky, peaty flavours of a typical Highland single malt.  This isn’t the only stand-out reason for taking a tour here; the distillery is located just 40 miles north of Glasgow, at the start of the West Highland way and in a beautiful location.  If you are undertaking the long-distance walk, this is a welcome stop on day one.  Glengoyne operates with a firm commitment to environmental responsibility; with 100% of its power from renewables, beehives on its grounds and wetlands planted to filter the spent lees from distilling process so the water can run out to the nearby burn which feeds the distillery and into Loch Lomond.  Tours range from £9 to a £150 whisky masterclass, or you can book private dining experiences at the Distillery with food by chef Justin Maule served with whisky pairings.

A post shared by Veronica Meewes (@wellfedlife) on Aug 16, 2017 at 4:03pm PDT

Lochranza, Isle of Arran KA27 8HJ.  01770 830264.   https://www.arranwhisky.com/

Arran is the seventh largest Scottish island.  Located in the Firth of Clyde, Arran enjoys a warm micro-climate, warmed by the gulf stream.  There is now just one working distillery on the island, which was once home to many of the illicit stills on the west coast of Scotland.  The Arran distillery opened in 1995, when the new distillery was built in Lochranza, at the north end of the island.  Having come of age in June 2016, a very special 21 st Anniversary limited edition release is planned for November 2016 to mark the occasion.  Although the buildings might lack the heritage of some brands, it is certainly in a beautiful spot and the Visitor Centre was awarded Scottish Field Magazine’s Visitor Experience of the Year in 2014 and 2015.  Tours range from £7.50 for the Distillery or Warehouse, or £15 for a tasting tour.  Although ongoing work at the distillery building to fit two new additional stills means that the distillery tours don’t start again until January 2017, tasting tours can still be booked.  You’ll need to take one of the two ferries to get to Arran: either the ferry from Ardrossan to Brodick, which takes 55 minutes, or from Claonaig in Kintyre to Lochranza, which takes 30 minutes.

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Carbost, Isle of Skye IV47 8SR.  01478 614308.   https://www.malts.com/en-gb/our-whisky-collection/talisker/

Another of Diageo’s classic malts, Talisker whiskies all have a peated, smoky flavour thanks to the peat burned during the malting process.  It is Skye’s only whisky distillery and enjoys a picturesque waterfront setting on this beautiful rugged island.  Set on the shores of Loch Harport it has dramatic views of the Cuillins, Skye’s rocky mountain range.  Tours of the Talisker distillery range from £8 to £35, but should be booked in advance.  You can reach Skye over the Skye bridge and by ferry from Mallaig to Armadale or, in summer, Glenelg to Kylerea.

A post shared by Peter de Groot (@whiscovery) on Aug 15, 2017 at 2:38am PDT

Port Ellen, Isle of Islay, Argyll, PA42 7DU.  01496 302 418.   https://www.laphroaig.com/home.aspx

Boasting a 200-year-old heritage, Laphroaig is one of eight working whisky distilleries on Islay.  Most of the Islay malts are seriously peaty and Laphroaig claims to be “the most richly flavoured of all Scotch whiskies”.  Since 1994 Laphroaig has been the only whisky to carry the Royal Warrant of HRH, Prince Charles of Wales (the 15-year-old is reportedly his favourite scotch whisky), which was awarded in person during a visit to the distillery.

Located in a beautiful spot on the south side of the island, the Laphroaig distillery is a handy half an hour stroll from the picturesque seaside village of Port Ellen.  Tours range from £6 to a four-and-a-half-hour “Water to Whisky” experience costing £90.  Get to Islay by ferry from Kennacraig on West Loch Tarbert to Port Ellen or Port Askaig.

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Port Ellen, Isle of Islay PA42 7EA.  01496 302244.  https://www.ardbeg.com/

If you’re making the trip to Islay, it would be a shame to stop at just one of its distilleries.  If you thought Laphroaig was peaty, then Ardbeg takes it up another step; distilling one of the peatiest whiskies on the island.  Another of the three Kildalton Distilleries (Lagavulin being the third), like Laphroaig Ardbeg enjoys a seaside location a short distance from Port Ellen.  Indeed, it is likely you’ll see both distilleries on the shoreline as you approach the island by ferry.  

Ardbeg has an official history dating back to 1815.  However, it ceased production between 1981 and 1997, during which time many of its buildings fell into disrepair.  It was rescued and put back into production in 1997 by Glenmorangie plc and is now one of the fastest growing Islay Single Malt Whiskies.  Tours range from £5 to £20 – or stay in its Seaview Cottage, the former home of the Distillery Manager located in the Distillery grounds, for £220 a night.

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The 12 Best Distillery Visits in Scotland

By Mike Gerrard

best distillery tour in scotland

Scotland is world famous for both its golf courses and for its whisky distilleries. But where do you begin? Well, just as a golfer will prefer to play a beautiful and renowned course like Carnoustie or St. Andrew’s, so too the whisky lover should seek out the distilleries that blend solid tours, great whisky, a dose of history and scenic settings into one memorable visit.

Here are twelve of the best, in strictly alphabetical order:

In the heart of whisky country, Speyside, is Cardhu. The name comes from the Scottish Gaelic for ‘Black Rock’, and this small distillery was founded by a reformed whisky smuggler but mainly run by his wife – the only woman to pioneer a malt distillery. Cardhu was later sold to Johnnie Walker and, as well as providing them with whisky for their blends, they have their own highly-rated single malt.

best distillery tour in scotland

Visitors to Dalwhinnie get an unusual opportunity to do tastings not only of the distillery’s own single malt but of other whiskies that are paired with chocolate from the Scottish Highlands. Being in the Highlands it’s one of the highest distilleries in Scotland, though the water comes from a branch of the River Spey: the whisky river.

Based in Perthshire, Edradour only produces twelve casks a week and is the smallest traditional distillery in Scotland. For that reason its tours (from April to October) are unique and very personal. It opened in 1825 as a farm distillery and still operates on that basis.

Glenfarclas Distillery


In the Speyside village of Ballindalloch, where distilleries abound, is the fiercely independent family-run Glenfarclas. Established in 1805 it was bought in 1865 by the great-great-grandfather of the present owner, John L.S. Grant. It was one of the first Scottish distilleries to open a visitor center back in 1973.

Glenmorangie Distillery

Glenmorangie Still House


In the royal burg of Tain, overlooking the Dornoch Firth in the Scottish Highlands, Glenmorangie has a distinguished history and a scenic setting. It also has the tallest stills in Scotland – as tall as the average giraffe – and a range of tours including the chance to visit the water source at nearby Tarlogie Springs.

The Glenlivet

Also in Ballindalloch on Speyside, the Glenlivet has been distilling legally since 1824, but was unofficially in business long before that. As well as distillery tours visitors can also enjoy three self-guided smuggler’s hiking trails in the Glenlivet Valley.

Highland Park Distillery

Highland Park Casks

Highland Park

On the island of Orkney, this is the most northerly distillery in Scotland. It also has some of the best tours, which range from a regular tour with a single tasting to more expensive options with tastings of up to seven whiskies.

Isle of Arran Mash Tun

Isle of Arran Bung in Barrel

best distillery tour in scotland

Isle of Arran

This island in the Firth of Clyde is easily reached from Glasgow, and is noted for its fine food and drink – not just whisky. The distillery has several different tours and is in a picturesque setting in the tiny village of Lochranza.

One of several distilleries on the island of Islay, Lagavulin dates back legally to 1816 and illegally till… well, who knows? It’s distinguished by its unusual pear-shaped stills, its slow distillation process and the lengthy time their whiskies spend in the barrels.

Also on Islay and a year older than its rival and near-neighbor, Lagavulin, Laphroaig is the only whisky to carry the Royal Warrant of Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, who favors their 15-year-old.

Macallan Distillery Casks

Macallan Distillery

One of the world’s best-selling whiskies comes from the little village of Craigellachie, where the River Fiddich (of Glenfiddich fame) meets the River Spey. It has one of the most modern and hi-tech visitor centers, and its tours are limited to ten people at a time.

Founded in 1830 this is the only remaining distillery on the Isle of Skye. Its tours range from 45 minutes to two hours, and it’s in a peaceful spot overlooking Loch Harport, the perfect place to enjoy a wee dram.

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  • 9 Whisky Distilleries You Must...

Whisky Distilleries You Must Visit in Scotland

With so many distilleries to see, be sure to visit one of Scotlands best whisky-making wonders at Talisker

Shortbread, tartan, kilts, bagpipes – ask anyone what springs to mind when you mention Scotland and it’ll likely be one of those. Or, of course, whisky. There are six distinct whisky-producing regions and 125 distilleries in Scotland – many of which offer visitors a glimpse at their creative process with tours and tastings. Here’s our guide to some of the best to visit here. Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips , compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips .

Highland park.

Highland Park Distillery

Situated on the islands of Orkney, this is the most northern whisky distillery in Scotland, offering a variety of tours at different price points. One tour – the Magnus Eunson – allows the visitor to taste seven different whiskies. There is even the option of a specialist tour, which allows the keen visitor to work a day at the distillery. Highland Park still has a traditional malting floor – where the grain is turned by hand – something that is rare in most modernised distilleries. Making whisky since 1798, Highland Park has won the award for Best Spirit in the World three times.

Old Pulteney

Old Pulteney Distillery

Cross the turbulent waters of the Pentland Firth on your way south from a visit to Orkney and the Old Pulteney distillery in Wick is just a short drive away. Known as the ‘maritime malt’, Old Pulteney was founded in 1826 – at a time when Wick was known as the herring capital of the world. Disaster struck the distillery when – in 1922 – the town was declared an alcohol-free area. Fortunately for the whisky, prohibition was lifted 25 years later – and in recent years, the whisky has gone from strength to strength. There are two tours a day so booking is advised.

Isle of Harris Distillery

Isle of Harris Distillery

The Isle of Harris Distillery is not easily missed as you approach either by land or by sea, proudly overlooking the bay of Tarbert. Opened in 2015, it is by comparison to its counterparts a very young distillery – but no less excellent in terms of the quality of its product. Its single malt whisky – dubbed ‘the Hearach’ – is infused with sugar kelp to give a sweet and representative flavour of the island’s maritime character. This is also the key botanical of its gin, which the distillery has already gained a lot of attention for. The distillery is normally open to the public Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm – and there is a canteen that serves hearty soups and bread in the winter months and cheese boards and seafood to pair with your tipple during the summer months.

Blair Athol

Blair Athol whisky distillery in Pitlochry, Perthshire, Scotland

Situated in Pitlochry – the Perthshire town at the gateway to the Highlands – this distillery produces malt whisky that is added to the famous Bell’s blend, as well as a small selection of single malt bottles. The tour is engaging and well thought out, with expert guides capable of answering even the most complex of questions. If you like your whisky without a trace of peaty, smoky nose and flavour, this is the tour for you.


Glenkinchie distillery Scotland established in 1837

The ‘Edinburgh Malt’, this distillery is within an easy distance of the Scottish capital – and is well worth a visit. There is an excellent model of the distillery in the visitor centre and there is a selection of tours to choose from. With a handy shuttle bus from Edinburgh possible, you do not need to worry about designating a driver.

Stunning view of Lagavulin Distillery

The tours available at this Islay distillery are varied – with options including a warehouse demonstration, matched whisky and food treats, or premium tasting, as well as the standard tour. If you are a fan of peaty whisky, Lagavulin is a must-visit – the whisky is sometimes described as the aristocrat of Islay whiskies.

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Copper pot stills, Laphroaig Whisky Distillery, Islay, Argyll and Bute, Scotland, United Kingdom, Europe

A single year older than Lagavulin, the Laphroaig name is the most famous of the Islay whiskies and consistently sells the most worldwide. The name itself means ‘the beautiful hollow by the broad bay’. This distillery also offers a selection of different experiences – ranging from tastings to a four-and-a-half-hour ‘water to whisky’ experience. As a part of the standard tour, the option to take away your wee dram as a miniature if you are driving is a good touch.

Talisker Distillery at Carbost on the Isle of Skye in Scotland.

Moving north to the Isle of Skye , Talisker is now the only distillery to visit on this famous island and the dramatic views of the Cuillin mountains are to be savoured. In summer, this distillery can get very busy, so it is wise to book a tour in advance. The whisky is not as peaty as those from Islay but is still heavier than those from Speyside – or other Island whiskies. The standard tour is also available with a ‘bolt on’ whisky flight, for those who cannot spare the time for the full tasting.

Isle of Arran

One of two stills for distilling Scotch Whisky at the Isle of Arran Distillery.

A relatively young distillery , this is currently the only one on the Isle of Arran. It features an excellent visitor experience – as well as tours and tastings, there is also an on-site café and the distillery won Scottish Field Magazine’s Distillery Visitor Experience of the Year for two years in a row. An interesting piece of trivia relates to the two eagles on the logo – during the building of the distillery, a pair of golden eagles nested on cliffs nearby and work had to pause until the young had fledged.

The Glenlivet

The Glenlivet whisky Distillery near the Cairngorms in the Highlands of Scotland.

Another award-winning visitor experience, this Speyside distillery is situated in a remote Cairngorm glen full of history and exciting stories. A favourite whisky of Charles Dickens – around half of the single malt produced by the Glenlivet distillery is sold to America. As well as a selection of tours and tastings, the distillery provides details of different local walks in the area, tied in with the smugglers’ history of the whisky.

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Guided Whisky Tours in Scotland by Mclean Scotland

Mclean Scotland Whisky Tours

Guided whisky tours in scotland.

With over thirty years-experience and our extensive contacts in the whisky industry, we ensure you enjoy the best of Scottish hospitality, from the moment you arrive until your final dram. We believe the wonders of Scotland should be experienced by all, which is why we carefully design tours to meet all budgets.

Please do not compare us to the big tour companies. We have the competitively priced customised tours at good prices that create lasting impressions.

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Scottish Whisky Tour Ideas

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Scottish Distilleries

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Mclean Scotland

Scottish whisky tours tailored to your taste, experience the very best of scottish whisky.

We take you to distilleries, arranging tours from beginners and connoisseurs. All transport and accommodation is prearranged, from lovely local guest houses, to hotels – booked by us, with care. There are nearly 150 active whisky distilleries in Scotland and growing, split into five regions:

  • Campbeltown


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Customer testimonials.

Thank you McLean Scotland for creating and delivering the Tour of a Lifetime!!

I HIGHLY and STRONGLY recommend this company for your Scotch tour!! 

This comment might seem strange, but to be honest, we didn’t really believe the quote we got for Liz and Paul. It was around 5-6k. We actually replied, 5k per person, right? We were surprised to find that was the total. The going rate for a week(ish) tour with big box (non-bespoke) companies in 2021 were 3-4k per person. If the price seems too low, it might raise red flags. It did with us, which is why we asked Liz and Paul to video chat to make sure it was real! I’m not suggesting that you jack up prices, but maybe address your pricing philosophy face up?

“We believe the wonders of Scotland should be experienced by all, which is why we carefully design tours to meet every budget. Please don’t compare us to the big tour companies. We have the flexibility to offer very competitively priced customized tours at reasonable prices that will create lasting memories."

Hi Paul. Back in Sweden and delighted to find my wonderful lab still recognises me (as does my wife). I think we had a brilliant tour, in fact the best ever, and as always it's a pleasure being on the roads with you. Apart from being a great companion, you share so much about Scottish history and culture which you know I'm always keen to learn more about.

I liked in particular the scenery going from Ballachulish to Tyndrum in Glencoe – a road I'd never travelled before. The best views I've ever had in Scotland. I think we have a solid plan for next year so let´s keep in touch about that.

First time we used MCLEANSCOTLAND.  They were honest about what we would be able to see. It truly was a vacation of a lifetime. It was everything we dreamed about! And we saw as much of Scotland that we could possibly fit in 10 days. Forward five years – we decided to do a whisky tour with them.

They did all the driving, so many distilleries, so many laughs, drank so much whisky and had the time of our lives. Our whole trip was truly magical!  There are not enough stars to give them rating they deserve.

MCLEANSCOTLAND are an absolute joy to communicate with. Professional, knowledgeable, courteous, friendly, and awesome with communication. The way they communicate is vastly different from the other 7 companies that I contacted for the tour. The tour schedule was WOW!! So detailed, well planned, organised and thought out.

You guys truly listened and tried your hardest to schedule events tailored to our wants and it definitely showed! Once again, totally different from the 7 other companies I contacted. The price was great! You scheduled an incredible tour to the budget that I gave.

Your long experience was evident and we very much enjoyed stories about Scotland such as details about the clans and other information he provided along the way. One hotel you chose was fantastic for us. Quirky and fun, the host seemed very energetic. The dining room and bar were surprisingly busy for mid-week and the food was excellent. It was nice to take a bit of a rest in such a peaceful place and we stood in a field looking at stars for a good hour. Breakfast was excellent. We loved every bit of Islay.  Our walk on the beach was wonderful. We were happy to catch the standing stones on the mainland, definitely worth the stop at least for us. After switching drivers we were able to make a detour to the Glen Coe area and stopped at a pull-in to take some pictures...a highlight of the trip for us...it was quite impressive.  Overall, we had an absolutely incredible time and made a ton of new memories. I would write more about it how wonderful it was, but I have to be off to work now!!! Thanks again, and we really are excited about our next trip...which would have to include the Isle of Skye.

Contact Mclean Whisky Tours

If you're looking for local, Scottish Whisky experts who also share a love for Scottish whisky then look no further than Mclean Scotland Whisky Tours.

For more information please email: [email protected]


~ The Rabbie's Blog ~


The 10 Best Scottish Whisky Distilleries to Visit All Year Round

best distillery tour in scotland

What would a visit to the birthplace of Scotch be without sampling a wee dram or two? But how do you navigate the vast array of Scottish whisky distilleries this country is proud to house? Look no further. We have categorised the best whisky distilleries you can visit in Scotland all year round, allowing you to focus on what's really important: deciding which bottle you want to take home with you from a tour. Within this article:

Scottish Whisky Distilleries - 10 Of the Best to Visit on a Tour

Where is the best whisky area in scotland, cardhu distillery, lindores abbey distillery, glen moray distillery, dalwhinnie distillery, glengoyne distillery, clydeside distillery, tomatin distillery, deanston distillery, dewar’s aberfeldy distillery, speyside cooperage.

Joining a Scottish whisky tour can be the best way to experience the liquid gold, lovingly crafted for centuries in Scotland. With over 140 malt and grain distilleries calling Scotland their home, your options are not limited. However it's always best to remember that out of season (November - April) some of the best distilleries may be closed or have restricted times. Our guide highlights our top 10 Scotch distilleries that we personally visit on our range of Scotland tours all year round. Which one will you decide to visit with us first?

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Region : Speyside Founded : 1824 Featured Rabbie’s Tour : Speyside Whisky Trail 1 Day Tour From Aberdeen Successfully run by two generations of pioneering women, Cardhu Distillery in the Speyside region was one of the first legal whisky distilleries in this area. Now known internationally as a world leading single malt provider, the distillery's history actually starts with it being previously named ‘Cardow’. It wasn’t until 1981 that the distillery was renamed to match its product. Uncover more about the history of this legendary producer when on a small-group tour . The small details are what matter most to us, so we’re sure to quench your thirst for knowledge.

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Region : Lowlands Founded : 1494 Featured Rabbie’s Tour : Whisky & Castles 2 Day Tour From Edinburgh An abbey, religious monks, and historic monarchs. Not your typical back story to a present day Scottish whisky distillery, but it’s true. Dating back as early as 1494, Lindores Abbey Distillery has links to the earliest written reference of Scotch whisky, once known as ‘Aqua Vitae’. Combining tradition with more modern methods, and attention to their sustainability practices, is how we know and love the distiller today. Sip and appreciate each element within this unique blend, with friends, family, or on a solo travel tour . It's with careful consideration to the holistic whisky distillery practice that allows each flavour to be appreciated in every sip.

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Region : Speyside Founded : 1897 Featured Rabbie’s Tour : A Whisky Journey: Drams & Distilleries 1 Day Tour From Inverness Small and authentic, the Glen Moray Distillery enchants its guests who are touring the Speyside whisky region. Taking you in detail through the six steps of their craft, you could leave with a new sense of skill and appreciation for the art of distilling whisky. What makes this particular Speyside distiller one of the best in Scotland is their authentic methods and passion for what they do. Because when you love what you do, it shines through to your guests and that affection hums within the group, leaving them wanting more.

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Region : Highlands Founded : 1897 Featured Rabbie’s Tour : Speyside Whisky Trail 3 Day Tour From Edinburgh Located in the heart of the Highlands, Dalwhinnie Distillery is a remote producer, providing what they like to call ‘the gentle spirit’. Although, from the extreme weather conditions they battle, the process of formulating the liquid gold is anything but gentle. Sourcing the water from a loch at 2,000 feet, to being made in the highest and coldest distillery in Scotland, doing things by half measures are not found in this vicinity. You might consider touring during autumn or maybe exploring while on your winter travels ? It’s always best to check opening times or weather restrictions due to the remote, but accessible location.

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Region : Highlands Founded : 1833 Featured Rabbie’s Tour : Discover Malt Whisky 1 Day Tour From Edinburgh Proudly standing on Glasgow's doorstep, Glengoyne Distillery is a family-owned producer, who distils their malt whisky slower than others. Taking the time to appreciate the complex structure and flavours, the team nurses the whisky into what we can taste today. And why not try it for yourself? Join the family when you depart on a tour from Edinburgh and let your taste buds do the talking. This is one family reunion you don’t want to miss.

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Region : Lowlands Founded : 2017 Featured Rabbie’s Tour : Whisky & Loch Lomond 1 Day Tour From Glasgow Celebrating Glasgow’s dockside heritage and the roots of Scotch whisky, Clydeside Distillery produces a delicate Lowland style spirit. Touring from the centre of Glasgow , you can tick this best Scottish distillery off your list, while finding a new appreciation of the region. As a fairly new contender compared to the rest of our list, it’s no less worthy of having a space in the top 10. Infact, Clydeside is proud to be producing Glasgow’s first single malt whisky in over a century. Uncover more history behind this producer and learn of their full circle moments when booking a whisky tour.

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Region : Highlands Founded : 1897 Featured Rabbie’s Tour : Cairngorms National Park & Whisky 1 Day Tour from Inverness Just 16 miles south of Inverness lies our next best whisky distillery in Scotland, Tomatin Distillery . Located within the beautiful Scottish Highlands , Tomatin dates back generations and makes a toast to the very landscape which surrounds it. Proudly producing high-quality single malt and blended Scotch whisky, their traditional methods date back to the 1500s. But that's not where the history lesson finishes, discover the depths of this whisky by participating on a tour from Inverness .

Region : Highlands Founded : 1965 Featured Rabbie’s Tour : Discover Malt Whisky 1 Day Tour From Edinburgh Honouring its success to the powerful River Teith, Deanston Distillery is not your average whisky producer. What makes it one of the best in Scotland is the strong sense of community, locally sourced ingredients, and its ethical upbringing. So much so, once powering its whole whisky distillery, offices, coffee bothy, and visitor centre, they have 75% of their electricity (river-powered turbines) to sell back to the National Grid. Join us for a Scottish one day tour from Edinburgh and be a part of the action yourself.

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Region : Highlands Founded : 1896 Featured Rabbie’s Tour : Highland Lochs, Glens & Whisky 1 Day Tour From Edinburgh Nestled in the foot of the Scottish Highlands is another strong contender for the best whisky distillery in Scotland. Continuing with their heritage, Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery uses the same practices once established by the founding family, but now they mature the spirit elsewhere in Scotland. The secret to this whisky’s smoothness? Double ageing, with a secondary resting in oak barrels. Walk through the process and gain a feel for what it's like to be a whisky distiller when touring the vicinity.

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Region : Speyside Founded : 1947 Featured Rabbie’s Tour : Speyside Whisky Trail 3 Day Tour From Edinburgh While not strictly a whisky distillery, Speyside Cooperage is an interesting whisky barrel manufacturer that any fan of the spirit can enjoy. Joining a Scottish three day tour from Edinburgh , guests can experience the expertise needed to hone this craft, while learning the importance of the relationship between the cask and its contents. It’s also fascinating to watch first hand how the coopers’s attention to detail is poured over every stage of the process.

Speyside is often considered the best whisky area of Scotland, and a factor to that may be due to its size. As the largest of the five whisky regions, the area of Speyside houses nearly half of all Scotland’s whisky distilleries. Fans of the liquid gold will find themselves right at home in this region. Scotland is proud to provide five top whisky regions:

  • Campbeltown

Enjoy a Wee Dram With Rabbie’s Tours

With the best whisky distilleries in Scotland found, all that's left to do is find your seat on one of our comfortable mini-coaches . Having one of our expert driver-guides behind the wheel, you can sit back and enjoy the flavours on offer with no arguments as to who is driving home. So whether you’re a beginner connoisseur looking to expand their palette, or a seasoned whisky enthusiast, a tour within Scotland’s five whisky regions can be the best experience for all.

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My 6 Favorite Whisky Distilleries To Visit In Scotland

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If there’s one place in the world you need to go to experience the best whisky distilleries, it’s Scotland, and if there’s one thing you need to do while you’re in Scotland , it’s visit some whisky distilleries. It’s hard to separate Scotland and whisky sometimes because they are so intertwined, but why would you want to? Whisky is as Scottish as lochs and mountains, Nessie and haggis , but it’s also a global drink that millions of people enjoy far away from this rugged landscape. When you’re visiting Scotland, whisky is a must-do experience, and that includes tasting it and finding out how and where it’s made. There are more than 130 whisky distilleries in Scotland and no matter where you stay while you’re in the country, there’s one near you. I’ve picked out my favorites so far!

A bottle of Balvenie Doublewood 12 Years Old Scotch Whisky and a glass with ice on a dark wooden background.

1. The Balvenie Distillery, Dufftown

Nestled in the picturesque surroundings of Dufftown, Speyside, The Balvenie has been handcrafting whisky for more than 125 years. The distillery grows its own barley, malts its own traditional floor maltings, and still employs a team of coopers to tend to the casks alongside a coppersmith to maintain the stills. Today, The Balvenie is still run by direct descendants of William Grant who founded the distillery in 1892. Visitors to the distillery can meet the experts whose dedication to their respective crafts shape each of The Balvenie’s expressions. 

With Balvenie Mains, where the barley is grown, and Conval Hills, the source of the spring water for the malting process, visible from the distillery, The Balvenie’s Speyside location is more than just a picturesque landscape. Each element plays an important role in producing The Balvenie’s rich character and creating a unique sense of home at the distillery. Tucked away in the trees of the idyllic Speyside countryside, The Balvenie has a unique tranquility about it where time passes more slowly. Welcomed by the family of ducks that reside at the pond and the sweet smell of the mash, there’s a feeling of homeliness and a connection with traditions of the past. With such a rich character and history, visitors to the distillery get an insight into the ultimate craftsmanship behind the process of making each bottle of single malt — from the growth of the barley in the fields that surround the distillery to the long-awaited on-site maturation of the spirit.

You might even feel the presence of a different type of spirit at the distillery. Legend has it that The Balvenie is haunted by the “Green Lady” who haunts the distillery’s craftsmen as they tend to the malt. If you like a good ghost story, they have an eerie little tale here.

Bowmore Distillery in Islay, Scotland.

2. Bowmore Distillery, Islay

For over 240 years, the Bowmore Distillery has been operating from the shores of its remote island home, Islay. Bowmore was the first licensed distillery on Islay and has stood on the shores of Lochindaal, a sea loch opening out into the wild Atlantic Ocean, since 1779. The distillery still operates in traditional ways, honoring the original whisky-making techniques, meaning that Bowmore is one of the few distilleries to have its own malt barn and still operate floor malting. The grain is turned by hand every 4 hours for 6–7 days during the floor malting process. The care and attention to detail during the distillation process creates whiskies known for their complex balance of smoke, maritime minerality, and fresh stone fruits. 

Bowmore whisky at Bowmore Distillery, Islay, Scotland.

Bowmore is also home to one of the world’s oldest Scotch maturation warehouses, the No. 1 Vaults. Bowmore Distillery’s proximity to the sea brings a hint of sea air to the character of the whisky. The Bowmore No. 1 Vaults is where most of the whiskies spend their long lives resting quietly in the cool, dark, damp cellars below sea level, with the waves thrashing the vault’s sea-facing wall. Matured in oak casks, previously used for bourbon, sherry, or claret, time develops rich and mellow flavors. Time is marked on each and every bottle of Bowmore, proudly and boldly as a marker of where and when each one’s journey began. Although the distillery doesn’t run tours as such, it does have a tasting room and a shop.

This is very much a working distillery. Even a visit to the shop requires a booking. It only opens Tuesday–Saturday and you’ll need to make an appointment to visit before you go. Bowmore is focussed on the production of great whisky and the exclusivity of a visit makes it all the more charming.

3. Knockdhu Distillery, Aberdeenshire

AnCnoc whisky is produced at Knockdhu Distillery , which sits in the shadow of the “Black Hill,” or Knockdhu in Gaelic, near Huntly in Aberdeenshire. It was established in 1894 by the pioneering John Morrison after he spotted an abundance of the natural resources needed to make fine malt whisky in the area: pure spring water and plentiful supplies of peat and barley. 

Today, Knockdhu is known as one of the smallest and most enchanting distilleries in the Scottish Highlands , producing a refreshingly modern single malt whisky with the most traditional skills and processes. The Black Hill continues to supply pure water for the whisky-making process. The distillery’s two copper pot stills replicate the original 1894 design, their bulbous bases giving anCnoc its light, fresh, fruity flavor. Old fashioned worm tubs are used to condense the vaporized alcohol. And distillery manager Gordon Bruce and his team make up one of the smallest workforces in any distillery, even though they include many dogs! Visitors can currently book tastings at the distillery and tour bookings are set to resume from May onwards.

The Glen Moray Whisky Distillery Experience.

4. Glen Moray, Elgin

Glen Moray is one of Scotland’s best-loved single malt whiskies. It has been crafted since 1897 in the ancient town of Elgin, the capital of the Speyside whisky region, on what was once the Elgin West Brewery site on the banks of the River Lossie. Pure waters from the river, locally-malted barley, distillation in traditional copper stills, and maturation in American ex-bourbon casks combine to give the whisky its smooth, well-balanced, classic Speyside character. Records dating back to the early days show spirits maturing in a wide variety of different casks, which was a highly unusual practice at the time. A passion for experimentation and a deep knowledge of wood have been passed down through generations of Glen Moray distillers. 

Glen Moray runs traditional daily tours, showing you around the distillery and guiding you through the process of whisky production. You can add in whisky tastings and there’s an on-site visitor café. You can even get the chance to bottle your own Glen Moray to take home.

Benriach Distillery, Elgin, Scotland.

5. Benriach, Elgin

In 1898, founder John Duff built his distillery, Benriach , in Scotland’s whisky region, Speyside. Benriach stands on the site of the old Riach farm in northern Speyside and draws water from a mineral-rich aquifer deep beneath the distillery. 

Currently, tours of the production facilities are not possible under COVID restrictions, however, the following experiences are available:

Benriach tasting room, Benriach Distillery, Elgin, Scotland.

Sense Of Flavor

This tasting experience guides you through the whisky-making process and highlights the flavors found in the range of Benriach single malts. You’ll try the original and smoky 10- and 12-year-old single malts, plus Benriach’s twist on a classic whisky cocktail.

Barrels, Butts And Barriques: An Exploration Of Cask Maturation

In this experience, you’ll learn about the art of maturation, and you can sample five single-cask whiskies. You’ll find out about the different oak woods and their influence on the spirit while creating Benriach single malt. Your tasting will include a demonstration of how four cask types are layered together to create the depth of flavor in Benriach’s whisky.

front exterior of Glenmorangie Distillery in the Scottish Highlands.

6. Glenmorangie, Tain

Glenmorangie is one of the most recognizable whiskies on the shelves. If you’re a whisky lover, you’ve most likely already tried it. If you’re just starting out on your whisky journey, this is a great place to start. They’ve been producing whisky for 175 years, so they’ve had plenty of time to become so popular. The distillery sits in stunning surroundings and enjoys a beautiful position near to the coast. With the sea breeze in the air, Glenmorangie uses five key ingredients — wood, water, barley, yeast, and time — to dream up delicious single malt whiskies. 

You can visit the distillery from Monday to Friday — they are closed at weekends — and they are resuming their tours in April 2022. You can take the Classic Tasting or the Innovator Tasting which includes four Glenmorangie expressions. The team at the distillery creates a delicate and fruity spirit in stills as tall as an adult giraffe to allow for more taste and aroma. Led by director of whisky creation Dr. Bill Lumsden, this crew is always on a mission to bring new flavors and possibilities to the world of single malt.

This is a lovely location and you can stay the night in Glenmorangie House, a boutique hotel in a 17 th -century building. Enjoy a tour and tasting in the distillery and then head to the house for dinner and a tipple in the bar.

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Travel writer, author, and playwright, Samantha loves historic buildings, quirky hotels, woodland walks and literary trails, specializing in food and drink, luxury travel, retreats, spas, and anything arts based. Samantha is based in Yorkshire, the UK, where she lives with her artist partner. Learn more on her website .

best distillery tour in scotland

The 21 best things to do in Edinburgh

E dinburgh has become synonymous with the annual Fringe Festival, which sees thousands of attendees flock to the city every August. But there are plenty of other amazing sights and attractions that pull in visitors all year round. From whisky tastings, to exploring Japanese gardens and 300-year-old underground passages, this is how you can get to know the Scottish capital.

Read on for all our expert tips, plus here's what you can do for  free in the Scottish capital . We can also help you plan a  weekend in Edinburgh , alongside our dedicated guides covering the best  hotels ,  restaurants ,  bars & pubs ,  nightlife  and  independent shops . 

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  • Out of town

Immerse yourself in the world's biggest arts festival

More than 60 years ago the International Festival’s founders set out to bring art, culture, colour and prosperity to a gritty and grey post-war Edinburgh. Now there are seven festivals in August, including the Fringe, Book and Comedy Festivals. Every year Edinburghers fall in love with it all over again as Auld Reekie becomes, quite literally, the city that never sleeps. 

Insider's tip:  It’s worth planning well ahead as hotels and restaurants book up early and headline shows sell out, but if you haven’t, don’t despair; there’s somehow always a room, tent or even a sofa somewhere, and always another free show.

Contact:   eif.co.uk  

Price:  £-£££

Visit the city's goriest museum

You’ll need a strong stomach and a morbid sense of humour to enjoy the fascinating Surgeons' Hall Museums. There are life-sized tableaux, tools of the surgical and dental trade that will make your toes curl (there’s probably a device for that), gruesome photographs, and pickled and preserved body parts. The unnervingly extensive collections include pathology and histories of surgery and dentistry.

Insider's tip: One of the more disturbing objects on display is a notebook bound in the skin of William Burke – one of the well-known Edinburgh bodysnatchers. It's possibly not the most family-friendly destination, unless your last name is Addams.

Contact:   museum.rcsed.ac.uk

Price:  £

Take your taste buds for a stroll around town

An Eat, Walk Edinburgh tour will provide you with an excellent gourmet introduction to the city. You’ll try 'starter-sized' taster dishes and samples of whisky, wine and beer along the way, but don't expect all the food to be Scottish – this is about all the variety Edinburgh has to offer.

Insider's tip: Plan this activity for day one, as you finish the tour with lots of useful information and a discount card for participating bars and restaurants. You'll also benefit from a lovely glow from the exercise (and the nips of malt whisky along the way).

Contact:  eatwalkedinburgh.co.uk

Explore the Queen's Scottish home

A tour of the Palace of Holyroodhouse – Queen Elizabeth II's official gaff in Scotland –  will show you more tapestries, portraits, and plasterwork than you can shake a sceptre at. You'll also be able to see Mary, Queen of Scots' chambers, where her courtier Rizzio was stabbed 56 times and then thrown down the stairs by her jealous husband. There are free audio tours, a gift shop and a smart courtyard café.

Insider's tip: In summer, take a guided tour of the hauntingly beautiful ruins of the nearby abbey, but keep in mind that the star attraction is the Queen’s Gallery with its fabulous exhibitions of the best art from the Royal Collections.

Contact:  royalcollection.org.uk

Price:  ££

See Scotland’s Stone of Destiny

Edinburgh Castle, the city’s most famous landmark, broods over Edinburgh – an elephantine presence on its dramatic volcanic rock. Home to the oldest crown jewels in Britain, Mons Meg and the Stone of Destiny, not to mention the  military tattoo, it’s more than a monument – it’s part of the city’s every day life. In fact, locals have been setting their watches by the one o’clock gun since 1861.

Insider's tip: There are complimentary guided tours to help you make sense of it all, or you can pay for an audio guide. Give the crowds a miss by purchasing tickets and downloading audio guides in advance online and visiting early in the day.

Contact:  edinburghcastle.gov.uk

Book tickets

Take part in a literary-themed pub crawl

As the first Unesco City of Literature, Edinburgh has a long – and sometimes dishonourable – literary history. It's cleverly brought to life on the Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour by two professional actors who focus on writers from the past. Tours start at 7.30pm in the Grassmarket and tickets can be bought online, at the meeting point, or from the Visit Scotland Information Centre in the Waverley Mall.

Insider's tip: The tour makes stops in several pubs where you can have a drink while you enjoy the guides' performance, or if you’re more of a misanthrope there’s a self-guided tour app on the website (but it’s more fun with the live guides).

Contact:   edinburghliterarypubtour.co.uk

Take a whisky masterclass

You may not be sure about the plastic barrel ride at the start, but there are worse ways to learn how whisky is made. The tour leaders at The Scotch Whisky Experience are brilliant and the Gold Tour upgrade is a revelation. Aficionados should opt for the Morning Masterclass, and gourmands should consider the Taste of Scotland Whisky and Food Tour, which includes a three-course meal in the Amber Restaurant.

Insider's tip: After the tour, visit the bar to find 300 whiskies and great views. It also offers Scotland’s other national drink – Irn-Bru – for teetotallers. If you have a cold, ask for a restorative hot toddy.

Contact:  scotchwhiskyexperience.co.uk

Go ghost hunting

You can’t throw a haggis on the Royal Mile without hitting a ghost tour, but if you’re looking for one grounded in history, The Real Mary King's Close is the tour for you. You’ll explore hidden 17th-century streets – long considered to be haunted by plague victims who were walled up alive. The odd murder and a healthy population of other ghosts adds further interest.

Insider's tip: Bear in mind there are 58 steps down and 38 up to be negotiated, so it’s not suitable for pushchairs, wheelchairs, the claustrophobic, or those with limited mobility. Children under five will not be admitted at all.

Contact:   realmarykingsclose.com

Price:  ££

Step into a world of optical illusions

Even in a high-tech world, a simple pin-hole camera that can project razor sharp moving images from distances that defeat modern cameras feels like magic. Children will love Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, and enjoy learning how to make do-it-yourself spyware using a cardboard box, tin foil and a blanket. There are optical illusions, games and a dizzying holographic exhibit that will delight visitors of all ages, too.

Insider's tip: It’s a great way to spend time on a wet day or revive tired children, and the 360-degree view from the roof is one of the best perspectives on the city – no matter what kind of camera you use.

Contact:   camera-obscura.co.uk

Experience life in 17th-century Edinburgh

Should you find yourself wandering down the Royal Mile, wondering what it was like to live in a towering tenement 300 hundred years ago, you can find out on a visit to Gladstone's Land. The National Trust has meticulously restored this wealthy Edinburgh merchant’s house to provide a fascinating recreation of the cramped conditions – even for the wealthy – in 17th-century Edinburgh. And there’s a good ice cream parlour, too. Try ‘The Butcher’: vanilla ice cream, candied bacon and whisky sauce.

Insider's tip:  You’ll see the kitchen and a pretty panelled parlour, but don’t miss the Painted Chamber. This bedroom contains what is considered the best original wall and ceiling decoration in Scotland.

Contact:  nts.org.uk

Price:  £

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

No one can fail to be stirred by this anachronistic but irresistible spectacle. Perhaps it’s the vibrating beat of hundreds of drums accompanying perfectly drilled marching bands, or the skirl of pipes (or twirl of kilts)? Or the sheer scale of it, under the towering walls of Edinburgh Castle, bursting fireworks overhead making the pulse beat faster. It certainly takes a heart of stone not to feel the pathos of the lone piper’s lament calling from high on the ramparts. Every festival-goer should go at least once (there’s a different theme each year). Just remember to take a handkerchief.

Contact:   edintattoo.co.uk

Tour the city in an open-top bus

You’ll find several sightseeing tours operating under the Edinburgh Bus Tours banner, but The City Sightseeing Tour offers a useful overview of the major attractions, operates all year round and is particularly good for children – the choice of audio commentaries includes a 'Horrible Histories' version for young ones.

Insider's tip:  A Royal Edinburgh ticket will give you 48 hours of access to all three of the available tours plus free entry to Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace and the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Contact:   edinburghtour.com

Dress up like 18th-century landed gentry

A visit to The Georgian House (a National Trust property) on the enduringly fashionable Charlotte Square is an absorbing way to get a sense of what life was like in a prosperous 18th-century household in the New Town – both for the family and those below stairs. The house was designed by Scottish neoclassical architect Robert Adam, and is a particularly fine example of Georgian architecture that's been beautifully and accurately furnished.

Insider's tip:  Do talk to the guides in each room who like to show off their detailed knowledge and if your children aren’t inspired by antiques, they can dress up in the period costumes available in the activity room.

Learn to cook Scottish fare

Gourmands can get to grip with local ingredients on a full-day cookery course. The well-regarded Edinburgh New Town Cookery School runs small one-day courses that are both professional and fun. Use the best Scottish ingredients in the Fish and Shellfish Workshop, or learn how to cook with game in a masterclass of meat. Those with a sweet tooth will enjoy mastering the indulgent creations in the patisserie workshop and at the end of the experience, you’ll get to try your hard work with a glass or two of wine in an elegant dining room with views all the way to the Firth of Forth.

Insider's tip: Book early as courses fill up quickly.

Contact:   entcs.co.uk

Visit Edinburgh's 'other castle'

Locals like to take visitors to this charming alternative to Edinburgh Castle. Craigmillar Castle is one of best examples of the medieval variety in Scotland and much of the structure is in remarkably good order. Explore from the top of the tower house to the gloomy basement where a skeleton was found walled up in the early 19th century. Mary, Queen of Scots stayed here twice – the area is still called Petit France.

Insider's tip:  Wood from ancient yew trees in the inner courtyard is said to have been used for making bows, which is an interesting fact for inspiring children’s imaginations in a place where they are positively encouraged to run wild.

Contact:   historicenvironment.scot

Tee up for outstanding city vistas

The Gentleman Golfers of Leith established the 'rules of golfing' on Leith Links in 1744, arguably making Edinburgh the home of golf. While you can no longer play in Leith, the 18-holes at the Edinburgh City Council-run Braid Hills Golf Course is a bargain. The layout itself is vertically challenging and is a Par 71 course. You can hire clubs and trolleys if you haven’t brought your own.

Insider's tip: It's worth a round even if you’re not a golfer, if only for the glorious views across the city to the Firth of Forth. Also be sure to look out for the gorse bushes – an unusually painful hazard.

Contact:   edinburghleisure.co.uk

Climb aboard a floating royal residence

The Royal Yacht Britannia was apparently frozen in time long before she was decommissioned. Look out for the various props found inside – there's everything from well-used board games in the sun lounge to toothbrushes in tumblers in the crew quarters. Together, the items bring Britannia, and the Queen’s fascinating frugality, to chintz-upholstered, brass-polished life. The comprehensive tour proceeds at a leisurely pace set by handheld recorded information delivered in suitably plummy tones.

Insider's tip:  Do plan to pause in the Royal Deck Tea Room for remarkably good simple lunches or a slap-up tea. Don’t miss the gift shop either, which is amusingly filled with stuffed corgis. 

Contact:  royalyachtbritannia.co.uk

Take in a unique distillery

There are any number of distilleries in Edinburgh, from micro to maxi, but the Port of Leith distillery is the first vertical distillery in Scotland, already a local landmark and just a hop from the Ocean Terminal tram stop. It’s a striking building and a fascinating tour; the guides lively, well-informed and engaging – although it’s worth going just for the views from the bar at the top. In fact, consider booking a table for a few cocktails and perhaps the steak pie or the Clava brie tartiflette. There’s a shop as well selling Port of Leith white port and Olorosa sherry as well as blended whisky.

Contact: leithdistillery.com

Out of Town

Discover the city on two wheels.

You can take a gentle three-hour guided ride around The Royal Mile, New Town, Holyrood Park and Portobello with Edinburgh Bike Tours, or hire by the day for your own tour on Edinburgh’s extensive system of cycle routes; tagalongs, trailers and bikes for children are available. You’ll need to be fit, but not Tour de France standard.

Insider's tip: Catch the sea breeze on a full-day tour along the coast, which takes in historic Cramond, Queensferry and the Forth Bridges. You’ll escape the city traffic and see fascinating areas other tours don’t touch.

Contact:   edinburghbiketours.co.uk

Explore underground coves

Many locals don’t know about Gilmerton Cove, and it is certainly one of the city's more obscure attractions. Even archaeologists can’t explain the 300-year-old underground passages and rock-furnished rooms, hand carved from sandstone and hidden underneath the streets of this quiet suburb; but there are plenty of theories, as the enthusiastic guides will tell you. Maybe it was a meeting place for the Hellfire Club, a hiding place for Covenanters, or a drinkers’ den? Make up your own mind when you visit.

Insider's tip: Tours must be pre-booked and are unsuitable for wheelchair users and children under five. Steep steps and rough (sometimes wet) floors require sturdy shoes. Remember to take a torch for solo exploring.

Contact:   gilmertoncove.org.uk

Amble through a Japanese garden

Lauriston Castle is a 16th-century tower house with Victorian extensions. The building overlooks the Firth and is surrounded by woodlands and a Japanese garden. Inside, it's home to an impressive collection of fine furniture and ceramics, as well as the personal belongings of its wealthy owners. Look for the newspaper in the sitting room reporting the sinking of the Titanic. 

Insider's tip: Take a pleasing 15-minute stroll to the Boardwalk Beach Club café. It sits right on shores of the Firth and has a huge outdoor seating area with blankets, great views and yummy soups, sandwiches and scones. Children and dogs are looked after, too.

Contact: edinburghmuseums.org.uk

Price: £; the grounds are free

How we choose

Every attraction and activity in this curated list has been tried and tested by our destination expert, to provide you with their insider perspective. We cover a range of budgets and styles, from world-class museums to family-friendly theme parks – to best suit every type of traveller. We update this list regularly to keep up with the latest openings and provide up to date recommendations.

Play The Telegraph’s brilliant range of Puzzles - and feel brighter every day. Train your brain and boost your mood with PlusWord, the Mini Crossword, the fearsome Killer Sudoku and even the classic Cryptic Crossword.

Explore the best things to do in Edinburgh - Getty


We visited Nikka Whisky, Japan's 2nd largest distillery making award-winning single malts for 90 years


Nikka Whisky is eyeing new products and markets as it celebrates its 90th anniversary.

Nikka’s whiskeys are among the most highly regarded in the global market for staying true to the bold, complex profile of traditional Scotch whisky. (Photo: Nikka Whisky)

This audio is generated by an AI tool.

best distillery tour in scotland

Yoichi’s air in early spring is crisp, fresh and bracing. The Hokkaido town’s proximity to the sea with surrounding mountains mirror that of Scotland’s mountainous Highlands and there is a faint briny scent as I breathed in deeply. 

Standing among the red-roofed stone structures of Nikka Whisky’s first distillery, I had a glimpse of why its founder Masataka Taketsuru, known as the father of Japanese whisky making, chose to start his craft here in 1934.

Nikka, which has been under the Asahi Group since 1954, is Japan’s second largest distillery after Suntory. As it celebrates its 90th anniversary this year with an eye on new overseas markets and products, Taketsuru’s pioneering and experimental legacy remains apparent.

The Yoichi distillery still uses direct coal-fired distillation, once a common practice among Scottish distillers but have since mostly flickered out. It takes great skill to control the high temperatures, so that the wash inside the pot stills creates a distinctly toasty and full-flavoured  single malt.

best distillery tour in scotland

While the environmental impact is debatable, Nikka’s Yoichi single malts are among the most highly regarded in the global market for staying true to the bold, complex profile of traditional Scotch whisky, clinching top accolades in blind tastings at international awards as early as 2001 and 2008.

Since then, Nikka has picked up several awards including the World’s Best Blended Malt for its Taketsuru Pure Malt at the World Whiskies Awards in 2023. Nikka also runs a second distillery in Miyagikyo, a region on the east coast of Japan’s Honshu island, which produces grain and malt whiskies.

Tours are opened all year round to visit the Yoichi distillery’s facilities, of which nine buildings are registered as Tangible Cultural Properties, including the kiln tower used to dry barley. Take a peek into Taketsuru and his Scottish wife Rita’s restored home, and have a pairing meal at Rita’s Kitchen, which features Hokkaido ingredients.

best distillery tour in scotland

At the Nikka Museum, which reopened in 2021 after a major renovation, there are exhibits –  complete with English descriptions –  on Taketsuru’s whisky making journey and Nikka’s history, as well as a paid tasting bar to sample different products before picking your favourites in the retail shop next door.

On a rare media visit to Nikka’s apple cidery in Hirosaki (the cidery has never been open to the public) we get an insight into the company’s export possibilities. Located in Aomori prefecture, Hirosaki is well known for its apples, the crop whose products propped up Taketsuru’s dreams as he waited for his first whiskies to mature.

Apple cider and apple wine are now the main products from the cidery but are currently only sold in Japan. Nikka’s global marketing general manager Emiko Kaji does not rule out the possibility of expanding volume to meet demand from overseas markets.

In a move to modernise and maximise the production at their facilities, Nikka had installed a hybrid pot and column still in the cidery last year. This allows flexible production of spirits such as apple brandy, apple wine and small batches of limited-edition spirits in the future.

best distillery tour in scotland

This makes me hopeful after sipping a super fun and aromatic Ringo cocktail that combined the Nikka Coffey Grain, Nikka Apple Wine and Nikka Hirosaki Cider Dry at a pairing dinner. The cider on its own is delightfully crisp and fruity, a perfect foil to cold dishes. The wine’s distinctly fresh fruitiness adds depth to cocktails or to chilled sodas on a sunny day.

Kaji said: “ Nikka is on the way to be a more global brand and we are cultivating new markets. Our aim is to have the most exciting distillates in the world. We want Nikka to be enjoyed in the traditional neat way but also in an innovative way in cocktails.”

She has observed whisky being increasingly used in cocktails. “When I visit the famous bars in Japan, I see global travellers, usually in their mid-20s to early 40s, they’re trying to visit all the 50 Best bars. They’re super knowledgeable and they want to know everything. ”

best distillery tour in scotland

For bartenders like Hisatsugu Saito from Bar Owl & Rooster in Sapporo, versatile spirits that leave plenty of room for creativity are essential. He shared that at his bar, it is a “50-50 split between customers ordering off the menu and asking for bespoke drinks”. First-time visitors would try the signature cocktails and leave their orders in his hands on subsequent visits.

The precise profiles in Nikka’s spirits allow for a tipple, Saito said: “The Coffey Gin has an intense unique flavour from ingredients like sansho pepper and Japanese citruses while the vodka’s sweetness and smooth mouthfeel are perfect for a Bloody Mary. I’d use the Coffey Grain for a spirit-forward Old-Fashioned and the Coffey Malt for a gentler, sour version.”

best distillery tour in scotland

Nikka has planted itself in the thick of mixology and dining action to position itself to be the go-to spirit on all occasions. It is an official partner with 50 Best Bars, and in 2010, started the Nikka Perfect Serve competition to emphasise the art of hospitality alongside bartending excellence. The Southeast Asia edition of the competition was launched last year in Singapore and Malaysia and expanded to include Thailand this year.

In the lead up to their 90th anniversary this year, Nikka launched limited edition products annually from 2021 under their Nikka Discovery Series. It included an unusual unpeated Yoichi Single Malt with fruity, spicy and herbaceous notes.  The flagship celebration release, Nikka Nine Decades, is a blend of 50 whiskies distilled over the course of Nikka’s history in its various distilleries, with the oldest drawn in the 1940s. According to La Maison du Whisky Asia-Pacific, who is Nikka’s Southeast Asia distributor,  there will only be 4,000 bottles available worldwide, with “a limited few” arriving in Singapore in the last quarter of 2024 at S$3,300 each.

La Maison du Whisky’s Asia-Pacific marketing director Diego Araud shared that the best-selling Nikka bottles in Singapore are From the Barrel and the Yoichi Single Malt. “The Barrel's versatility means that it’s super easy for anyone, from the newcomer to the connoisseur, to consume it, whether as a homemade highball or Old-Fashioned.”

best distillery tour in scotland

He added: “The consumption of spirits, including that of Japanese whiskies, has been impacted by Singapore’s economic downturn. Singapore's on-trade scene boasts high-quality cocktail bars seeking unique expressions for their creations. This is why Nikka's Coffey range, particularly the Coffey Malt –  a very rare malted barley offering distilled in a Coffey still that delivers fruity-spicy notes instead of the usual nutty toast profile –  is highly appreciated.”

Kaji emphasised: " Nikka’s products are not targeted at collectors. We don’t want you to buy our whiskies and then leave them on the shelf. We want our customers to celebrate the joys of life through our products, from entry models on a daily basis to special whiskies for special occasions .”

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  1. The 10 Best Whisky Distilleries in Scotland

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