A Celebration of Scotch Whisky - 7 Tours That Visit Distilleries

Whether you spell it whisky or whiskey (or, indeed, know the difference between the two!), there's no denying the power of a great golden dram. We might be a little biased here in bonnie Scotland, but this is something worth celebrating. If you love pouring yourself a glass of the good stuff as much as we do, you might be interested in the following tours – all of which include a tour of a Scottish distillery. And yes, of course you'll get to sample a glass or two of Scotch as you go!

1) Lord of the Glens - Highlands & Islands | Multiple departures | From £1,185pp

If you book a place on this scenic Scottish tour, you'll spend the afternoon touring the charming Oban Distillery – one of the country's smallest. Oban prides itself on using one of the few traditional mash tuns left in Scotland and is also just "208 steps from the sea", making it a worthy destination to visit. Interestingly, Oban employs seven people – its artisans – to produce its amazing whisky. During our visit here, we will be able to indulge in a glass that exudes "warm honeyed spices of the Highlands and the subtle smoke and salt of the harbor air".

Other highlights of this magical 6-day adventure include a cruise that spans the length of Loch Ness, the chance to negotiate Neptune's Staircase and the rest of the Caledonian canal, time to enjoy the delights of Tobermory, and a train ride across the legendary Glenfinnan Viaduct. Our ship, the MV Lord of the Glens, has 27 beautifully appointed and well-equipped state cabins, all with windows and en-suite facilities.

Click here to view the full itinerary now.

2) Whisky Tasting in the North of Scotland | 9th October | From £1,195pp

This is a holiday for the real whisky lovers among us. From the Scapa Flow in Orkney to the heart of Speyside, visit a grand total of 7 distilleries and enjoy tastings at each. We have carefully selected each venue for its diversity and appeal, so that you can savour peaty notes and honeyed tones in abundance. 

First up is the Scapa Distillery, where a tour will treat us to 3 tastings along with a dram drawn straight from a cask. We then make our way to the Highland Park Distillery, which still uses the same traditional methods it employed 200 years ago. Our 'Viking Soul' tour here includes 2 tastings, which will be smokier and peatier than the last. Next, we stop by the distillery at Glen Ord for a tutored nosing and tasting of the 12, 15 and 18-year-old Singleton of Glen Ord. If this wasn't enough, we also visit the Cardhu Distillery, the magnificent Glenlivet at its remote Strath Avon location, Speyside Cooperage, Dalwhinnie Distillery, and Strathisla Distillery. 

Click here to view the full itinerary now.

3) Historic Houses of Scotland | 2nd June | From £675pp

If you're after something a little different where whisky is concerned, this short 4-day break includes a visit to Edradour Whisky Distillery, which is famed as the smallest in all of Scotland and was established in 1825. At this unique venue, we will enjoy a guided tour that showcases its carefully handcrafted whisky, and we will also watch a short film that reveals the history of Edradour as well as its whisky makers' art. Afterwards, we can take a tour of the distillery itself along with the cask warehouse, where we can witness its traditional methods – which remain virtually unchanged for around 150 years. 

Elsewhere on this holiday, you will visit a spectacular array of castles with stories to tell and go on the trail of monarchs both factual and fictional. Explore Loch Leven Castle, Braemar Castle, Balmoral Castle (built for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert), Blair Castle and also Menzies Castle. On the final day, you'll make a stop at Glamis Castle, the childhood home of the late Queen Elizabeth – the Queen Mother. 

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4) Islay & Jura | Multiple departures | From £995pp

On the evocative isle of Islay, an island of the Inner Hebrides, we will take you to the fabulous Bowmore Distillery. The first licensed distillery on this island and home to the oldest Scotch whisky maturation space in the world, Bowmore has stood on the same spot since 1779. Here, the Maltman will show us how this unique whisky is produced by hand and then matured in Spanish and American oak casks – a method that gives it its distinctive flavours. 

This tour will also delight bird lovers as a visit to the RSPB Nature Reserve at Loch Gruinart follows. Here, we have an introductory talk and can then wander around at our leisure, looking out for the many species that call this part of Scotland home. Keep an eye out for geese, birds of prey and a rare type of crow. Other visits include the gardens of Colonsay House, the stunning island of Jura and Loch Finlaggan. The accommodation for this tour's entirety will be the Port Askaig Hotel, just steps from the beach. 

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5) Arran - Scotland in Miniature | Multiple departures | From £675pp

In this glorious part of Scotland, you'll find the Isle of Arran Distillery, which is home to a Master Distiller with over 40 years experience of whisky making. During this tour, we'll pay a visit here and can see just what makes it so special. Known for being the only working distillery on Arran, its whiskys won a number of prizes at the World Whisky Awards this year and we can sample them on Day 2. Interestingly, Her Majesty The Queen opened the Visitor Centre in 1997 and two casks were presented to her for Prince William and Harry, which are still unopened in Warehouse 1. 

This tour also includes a talk by a local historian, who will share information about the mysterious case of the Goat Fell Murder of 1889, and a visit to the beautiful gardens of Brodick Castle. The hotel for this 5-day tour is the beachfront Best Western Kinlock Hotel, which is family owned and has been open for 60 years now. Equipped with a swimming pool, sauna, snooker room and en-suite bedrooms, this is the perfect base for exploring the local area. 

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6) Grand Tour of the Inner Hebrides | Multiple departures | From £1,545pp

On this all-encompassing 7-day tour of the Inner Hebrides, we'll take you to Bowmore Distillery, which also features on our Islay & Jura holiday. Here, distillers employ the finest quality oak casks and a long-standing traditional approach, which helps their 3-ingredient whisky (made from just barley, yeast and water) to taste so incredible. Bowmore minimises waste at its distillery by selling leftover grain to local farmers as winter cattle feed.

Other highlights on this tour include a visit to the unusual Fingal's Cave, a visit to Iona Abbey, and a wildlife cruise that features dolphins and basking sharks. Other wildlife you can anticipate seeing on this holiday ranges from shags and kittiwakes, to seal colonies. Additionally, there will be some free time available in the charming village of Craighouse, which is also home to Jura's distillery... So, if it's more whisky you're after, there's another chance to indulge your craving with a self-organised tour and tasting here!

Click here to view the full itinerary now. 

7) Undiscovered Orkney | Multiple departures | From £995pp

On the 4th day of this tour, we will take you to visit the fine Highland Park Distillery. Set among the remote landscape of Orkney, this distillery boasts Viking roots and has been using the same traditional methods of production for around 200 years now. At Highland Park, peat cut from Hobbister Moor – just 7 miles from the distillery – is used and its malt is still turned by hand, which is something only done now by a handful of distilleries. The picture on the right shows Highland Park's extensive malt room, which is turned by hand every 8 hours over a 6-day period.

Our Undiscovered Orkney tour will also delight lovers of archaeology, with visits to Maeshowe (the finest chambered tomb in western Europe), the site at Skara Brae and the ancient Standing Stones of Stenness. Accommodation throughout this tour will be at the Kirkwall Hotel in Orkney, which features stylish en-suite rooms and serves up a great freshly cooked breakfast in the mornings. 

Click here to view the full itinerary now.

If you'd rather book a place over the phone or have further questions, please give our friendly team in Cupar a call on 01334 766134.

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A Celebration of Scotch Whisky - 7 Tours That Visit Distilleries was published on 27 March 2019