Scottish Whisky Distilleries

Our personal views on distilleries we have visited – in alphabetical order. You may not agree, but, och well, they are ours!

We will add many more, new and old,with our prefer most of these are accessible through our various whisky tours.

ABERFELDY

was known as Dewar’s world of whisky until recently. Another local distillery to Paul, I like this one a lot, superb staff, Big Ross and George (both good curlers).  There’s an interesting museum on the tour. The extra long tours are excellent. Lovely setting and very scenic, we have lots of tours here and also whisky schools.  You may be pleasantly surprised by the Aberfeldy blend and the single cask releases which are relatively new.

Aberfeldy Distillery in Perthshire, used to be called Dewars World of whisky

ABERLOUR

Another favourite, nicely located and only a couple of tours per day, but they last, they are good and great drams afterwards! Small shop but good things inside. For people looking for something to do before or after this tour, try the church over the road, a piece of history, extensive graveyard and the river at the bottom of the hill. New for 2016 they are introducing new tours.

A bottle of Abunach from Aberlour Distillery, Speyside

ADELPHI ARDNAMURCHAN DISTILLERY

We took the Malt Whisky Association of Finland here, just before it was officially opened.  Great drams as they are also an independent bottler, so we had lots of whisky.  It was a great tour, even if not completed, a great time had by all and, we will be there again, no worries.

The stills inside the Adelphi Ardnamurchan distillery

ARDBEG

Anothervery tidy distillery, spick and span, very clean and sharp, good shop and restaurant. Good tour and I love the produce from here. I would say one of the more remote of the Islay distilleries, along the road to Kildalton Kirk. On a nice summers day it’s spectacular. We took Ingvar Ronde here with friends.  Favourite dram – Ardbeg Dark Cove.

Taken during Ingvar Ronde's tour with us at Ardbeg Distillery

ARRAN

Nice compact distillery ideal for tourists but serious whisky lovers  may need the VIP. John took us aboot and he was good, a still man with enthusiasm. Well worth a visit if over there. Here again in ‘16 with Ingvar Ronde, a great tour and superb taste had by all – they even looked after me (driver) with drams.

Second tour with the Malt Whisky Association of Finland in August; raining heavily, we went into the new room for tasting, very comfy and enjoyed at lea List 4 really great drams, with sandwiches, followed by a tour, superb! Liz loves the Madeira finish.

The wee driver's dram at Arran Distilllery, Scotland

AUCHENTOSHAN

the closest distillery to Glasgow, on the Dumbarton road, a nice tour to be had here, my favourite dram is the 18 year old, or 3 woods. Good shop, relaxing and tours. One of only 2 Scottish distilleries to triple distil, go and see why they do it is my suggestion.

A lovely dram in a glass of Auchentoshan whisky

BALLINDALLOCH

For me, whilst tidy and clean it’s a bit pretentious –  a small distillery with an attitude AND over priced!

Ballindalloch Distillery in Speyside, small, clean and neat

BALVENIE

A great half day private tour just the two of us, Christmas 2015. I urge all whisky fans to do this one, you won’t be disappointed. Own malting floors, watch the peat fires, great, it has it all! Has to be Liz’s favourite.   Liz loves the Caribbean Cask whist Paul will drink anything from here.  Our guests have also had the pleasure of this tour recently, all emerged overjoyed and full of whisky, full of smiles and holding purchases.  This is one of the great distillery tours to do and we can arrange it!

A photo outside Balvenie Distillery near Dufftown, Speyside

BEN NEVIS

Have been here a few times with tourists mainly, though a few experts along the way have been with us. Set on the side of the mountain of the same name, big hairy cows to pat before taking the tour. Again, the longer more in depth is the better tour here. A good stop when touring along the great glen. They do not have much choice, it’s a Japanese owned distillery, that in our view needs money put into the visitor experience. They have some excellent aged drams if you can get them!  Paul enjoyed a cuppa here with Colin.

Sample drams at Ben Nevis Distillery

BEN RIACH

One of my favourites on Speyside, a ‘warts an all distillery’, doesn’t pull punches and not designed for happy tourists on a whisky sightsee. Stewart was the manager and a friend, as a Mull person he is special, we have an understanding us two, both Mull people. Anyhow, a closed to the public distillery which I love, we do take tours in here and it’s well worth it. The warehouse drams are superb. April 2016 this and it’s sister distilleries (Glendronach and Glenglassaugh) bought by Jack Daniels owners.

 

A bottle of Benriach whisky outside a castle in Perthshire

BENROMACH

A really nice tour here, not the biggest or most well known but a lovely wee place and a great tour to be had, I like this one a lot, good shop too, friendly staff and an all round good visit. Not far from Elgin and on the way to Speyside, I do encourage you all to try this one. Located in Forres, this is a distillery owned and run by Gordon & MacPhail, a different approach to marketing, bottle design etc, I do like so many of their drams!  Again, try for the more expensive tour, it is worth it!

The lovely Benromach Distillery showing a bench outside

BLAIR ATHOLL

One of Diageo’s distilleries, also known as Bells. Located in the lovely Victorian town of Pitlochry, easy to find and park.  It’s a decent tour but we always try for the special tours, as we have more dedicated whisky lovers here than tourists.  It has a good shop, museum of sorts and on the level mainly, which helps some old fogies like myself! As with other Diageo locations, there are many bottles/brands to enjoy and purchase.  The Blair Atholl single malt is good.

Bells, Blair Atholl Distillery, a winter scene

BOWMORE

Another clean and tidy place, I do like this one.  It has a superb tasting room looking over the water, great staff and a good taste at the end.  They hand turn the barley on the malting floor, one of the few. Liz and myself stayed here and loved it, to wake up to the smells wafting in through the windows is outstanding! Malt Whisky Association of Finland were here in August with us, a fantastic 2 hour tour with 4 great drams to end it with, well done Bowmore yet again.

The washbacks at the Bowmore Distillery, Islay

BRORA DISTILLERY

Brora Distillery, many thanks. A very scenic location up there in Brora.  It’s on the same site as Clynlish (currently closed).

Brora Distillery one of many whisky distileries on the east of Scotland

BRUICHLADDICH

The water comes from the hills behind the distillery – the Bruichladdich and Port Charlotte bottles are all excellent. I did like the place, it’s a small distillery that’s why I like it. The staff are brilliant, great shop – grand T shirts and the whisky is excellent. My only downer – they release too many whiskies each year, too many bottles to choose from. Liz can only remember the whisky she likes by the colour of the bottle! Paul took Ingvar Ronde here in April 2016 as a part of his Islay tour, and he was even given great driver drams to take away. Malt Whisky Association of Finland were back here with us in August 2016, fantastic drams – many, many purchases made.

Ingvar Ronde's Malt whisky yearbook on tour with us at Bruichladdich Distillery

BUNNAHABHAIN

“Mouth of the river” in Gaelic, or as Liz likes to say – bunny heaven. On a cold, wet day here we strayed into this distillery, we both said at the same time “it looks like a prison”, well with the courtyard high walls with bars on them, it did remind us of prison – now there’s a story waiting to get out! Liz’s favourite distillery and dram from Islay.  It’s not too peaty at all, very drinkable for the person not wanting heavy peat. Recently returned with a group tour (Malt Whisky Association of Finland), boy were we treated well! Great seafood and deserts, drams and wine, on that rainy day visit I gave it 10/10. Then again with Ingvar RondeMalt Whisky Association of Finland were back here with us in August 2016, fantastic tour and really excellent drams – many, many purchases made.

A bottle sitting inside Bunnahabhain Distillery, Islay

CAOL ILA

Whisky is good, another Diageo. Visited and had a good tour, large as you would expect, nice staff. Far end of the isle near the ferry at Port Askaig, now there’s a strange place if ever there was one.  Step back in time, we were looking for Dr Who when there. As expected a good shop, on a nice day it’s good to sit outside with a hip flask and a sandwich! Great views to Jura.

a bottle o Caol Ila whisky sitting outside Caol ila distillery

CARDHU

Whisky is good, another Diageo but they do things a little differently. Lovely location and a nice tour. However, the best thing is the hairy coos behind the distillery, they totally love digestive biscuits, honestly! (Liz). have been on tour here (Paul) more times than I can recall. A good selection of drams available and you can add drams to your tour at the shop when you do the tasting. Gold Reserve is good, as is the 18 year old, save some for us!

Love these little ladies, the Cardhu Distillery coos!

CLYNELISH

April 2016 – it’s currently closed to the public as as they are undergoing a huge upgrade.  It’s on the same site as Brora Distillery.  Before it closed I had a really good tour with Claire.  The older whiskies are the better here.  Do go to Brora if you are here.

The outside of Clynelish Distillery, which sits next to Brora Distillery

CRAGGANMORE

In Ballindalloch, owned by Diageo.  This is strange but nice distillery,  spread out, up a wee road and through the village.  The Single Malt is the most complex of the Speyside Malts. It is in limited supply as it is one of Speyside’s smaller distilleries It’s unique flat topped spirit stills and traditional wooden worm-tubs, shows off Cragganmore’s complexity. A really nice wee lass named Claire took us around, her family are all whisky workers going back to her great grand dad. At Christmas 2015 they opened up especially for us,  well done Diageo, we appreciated this, a great dram room by the way.

Looking through the iron gates at Diageo's Craggenmore Distillery

DAFT MILL

Housed in restored stone farm buildings and has been traditionally designed. The distillery uses home grown barley of the highest quality, nothing is wasted in the process as spent grains, “draff”, is fed to cattle on the farm, effluent produced is used as a fertiliser and hot water is pumped into the farm’s duck pond, which ensures that the surface does not freeze over during the winter. I love this place, its’ wee and Francis does a superb tour. We cannee wait until he offers a bottle for sale … they should be at least 12 years old, come on Francis, I want one!

casks maturing inside Daftmill Distillery

DALLAS DHU

The distillery closed in 1983 and today is owned and run as a visitor whisky museum by Historic Scotland. A state owned distillery! Aye it’s a museum and in my view, worth a visit, no whisky is produced, it’s now closed for that but a good trip and a shop. There are rumours this will open again as a distillery, if you like to find out more on the whisky process and enjoy a great shop,pay a visit. It’s no far from Elgin.

Dallas Dhu Distillery cum musuem in Speyside

DALMORE

Visited often, always have a great time. Shelly took me on a private tour, my eye popping experience started as we reached the still room. Every still is a different shape and size, some quite unique! And aye, the still man who sits in mission control is hilarious, had a great time chatting with him, came away with a wee set of test tube samples, superb! Liz’s favourite – King Alexander, the girl has expensive tastes, Paul likes the Cigar Malt. Though – we do think they are all are overpriced!

A whisky tour brochure sitting on a table inside Dalmore Distillery

DALMUNACH

What can I say? It was mind blowing, from the front door, to the space age still room, unique features everywhere, green aware, wood taken from the old Imperial wash backs for the entranc.  We were so lucky to get a tour before it was officially opened. We happened to be outside the door taking photos, wearing our whisky tour jackets, a man came out, we had a chat, we went in! Star Wars meets whisky distillery, the whole plant is superb, including all the outbuildings and bio plant etc. We are told everything will go to blend.

Dalmunach distillery

DALWHINNIE

The highest above sea level in Scotland, at the end of the Loch Laggan road where it meets the A9 going to Inverness. A Diageo one again, so you do tend to get the same patter and jokes from the guides as many others in their stable, a shame.  Try the taster drams platters – great if you are short on time. We like the idea of tasting drams with chocolates without doing the full tour, something different from Diageo.

A view of the outside of Dalwhinnie Distillery

DEANSTON

We like this one, no computers, nice friendly staff, good tour.  It’s in  a lovely location, nice building too, once a cotton mill, owned by Burn Stewart, now new owners. It’s near Doune Castle, where Monty Python filmed, so you would expect lots of tourists.  Not really, I would say it’s a hidden gem. Nice cafe there too, once again, try and take a more in depth tour here with some good drams to match, a nice tasting room, or for the more wealthy of you, an even better room upstairs!

The Glenturret Distillery, also known as The Famous Grouse

DRIMNIN

Scotland’s ‘first’ 100% organic single malt Scotch whisky distillery has opened on a remote farm estate in the Highlands. Ncn’ean Distillery (pronounced Nook-knee-anne), aim to produce a ‘young, light and fruity spirit, with maturation in ex-Bourbon and red wine casks A great all round the shop tour, fantastic to be there on our own with nae time limit. Can I thank Riona for her time and chat, grand stuff. Also, I would suggest not arriving by car, rather, do it by boat – we will be offering a whisky tour by boat next year!

the view to Mull from the Drimnin still room

DUFFTOWN

Aye, been in here too, a huge place run by two guys. Diageo of course and closed to the public. Tim (Russia) and myself had a tour here one evening, it’s not in the slightest bit neat and tidy, it’s a working distillery not meant to be taken on a tour, but we did. It was really interesting, we had a great tour many thanks to the lads there! Another blend distillery, it would be nice to see a Dufftown Special one day!

Dufftown Distillery, Speyside

DUNCAN TAYLOR – SHOP

Not a distillery obviously. Have been here so many times now, I never get tired of doing so, a superb shop with everything you need for a good whisky, bottles from around the world.  Fill your own from the cask, presents and gifts all catered for.  They have superb staff who know everything they have and happy to give suggestions and info on any bottle, miniature or full size, great! We do know Euan and Andrew here more than anyone else.  Liz and Paul shared a dram or two a few years ago in his house.

a bottle of Duncan Taylor's most expensive whisky

EDEN MILL

Near St Andrews. They started life as a craft brewery, now produce some fantastic gins (Love, Oak) before their amber nectar will be ready to taste in 2018. If the new make is anything to go by, it will be great. A quirky place with the most passionate people on the planet. AND Liz’s daughter works there. This is getting better all the time.

Guys rolling barrels outside Eden Mill (distillery and brewery) near St Andews

EDRADOUR

The sign says “the smallest distillery in Scotland”, well, sorry Andrew (in the picture, the owner) not any more. It is a very scenic distillery up in the hills above Pitlochry, good 40 minute tour, lots of different whiskies in the good shop. The staff are good, I have my own favourites of course FAIRY FLAG, IT IS FAB. Andrew has plans and there are lots of things happening here, new warehouse, his own bottling plant, it’ a good one to see. Read interview with Andrew Symmington.  We have been here often in 2016 and it has never disappointed us, we do get special attention from Andrew and he does grab us aside to share a dram, great guy so he is!

Liz and Andrew owner AT EDRADOUR DISTILLERY

GLEN ELGIN

 

A large distillery producing some good single malts and most going to blends, closed to the public.  It’s rather like a huge chemical plant. I must say when I went around this one, it was with a group at Speyside whisky fest. As they do not normally have visitors, it is a boring place to wander around, but the Belfast lass that took us was enthusiastic and passionate, we had a taste of the 12 year old.

 

Sampling a dram of Glen Elgin 12 year old at Glen Elgin Distillery

GLENFARCLAS

We love coming here, great tour, very friendly staff and a superb location. Good shop and even better tasting room, some of their drams are on the 9/10 level – what more can I say? Go see it. older the dram here, the better, try the 105 range. Almost got stuck in snow here in December, hmmm… We take tours here every year both groups and private tours. Paul’s favourite; 25 year old.

Some lovely Glenfarclas Distillery drams one Christmas

GLENDRONACH

A wee bit out of the way but well worth the trip. It has a good range of tours available, decent shop and a great tasting at the end. It is known for its’ sherry finish and has many releases. Recently sold to JD. We were hired by owners at the time to look after 20 Russian distributers for a few days, they all stayed on site in the cottages, Paul loves a sherry finish, so this is fine for him!

Sampling drams straight from the cask at Glendronach Distillery

GLENFIDDICH

Their general tours are good but a wee bit show reel stuff.  It’s a very clean and tidy distillery and a weird point – the ladies toilets are amazing! We normally do the special tours and they are brilliant. The full day tour of Glenfiddich and Balvenie is just stunning. Another grand man was Bert (no longer there), the head guide, he did a great tour. A good shop and easy to park. You will see many tourists and indeed, special tour people coming for the longer, more intense tours. Definitely a good lunch stop too. Another good point, they have stopped taking coach tours of tourists! The more expensive the tour the better.

A winter's day outside The Glenfiddich Distillery

GLEN GARIOCH

Pronounced Glen Gare – ree, a different one to visit, the staff are superb and friendly (I got a nice cup of tea while my group went round – the drivers share – a chat and many smiles). Still with many features other distilleries have lost, it’s a hands on tour, not at all touristy, which is one reason why I like it. It is far out though, near Old Meldrum near Aberdeen. Liz loves the wee smoke house. Paul will be here again in June ‘16, he can’t wait.

It looks like ghostly goings on. Liz surrounded by smoke inside Glengarioch Distillery

GLENGLASSAUGH

A one off privately owned distillery, Stuart and Ronnie have shown me around here, it’s a grand distillery, on the up regarding the whisky and very progressive. Casks for sale, small but good shop and tours are very good and informative, love it!

The stills inside Glenglassaugh Distillery

GLEN GRANT

I like this one, a huge still outside, great shop, nice layout.  Big stills inside, warehouse is good, a great tour we had especially to see the bottling plant. Tim and myself were there in December 2010, in heavy snow we were the only two people mad enough to be there, apart from the two workers, one of whom showed us around, an extra special tour we really appreciated. Liz and Paul did the whole tour privately, gardens, waterfall, hidden cask – well worth everyone doing this. dram enjoyed most here; Five Decades.

Liz sampling a Glen Grant dram

GLENKINCHIE

Pentcaitland, in East Lothian, a Lowland distillery again a Diageo one. South of Edinburgh, it does tend to get more tourist visitors than experts but it’s always good to see the lowlands. A good tour and visitor centre, friendly helpful staff.

A lovely bottle from Glenkinchie Distillery

GLENLIVET

What can I say about this one; been here so often, and now it’s been enlarged to one of the largest in Scotland. Good for tourists and whisky lovers. Some good displays here, great shop, good food and drinks. I am a Guardian and have my key for upstairs. I also took a 3 day whisky course that was excellent and I learned a lot. Ok bit touristy but it’s worth a tour here. We were guests here at the 2015 Speyside whisky festival, drivers and brand ambassadors looking after us, lunch with Charlie (Maclean, our whisky club patron), private drinks with Ian Logan, masterclasses with Charlie and Allan Winchester. Favourite dram has to be the 50 year old Ian gave us!

Liz and Paul with Ian Logan, Global Ambassador at Glenlivet Distillery

GLEN LOSSIE

Closed to the pubic but we went around in April 2016.  We did like our tour here, top guys are passionate about what they do, in fact two of them have over 30 years there.  The stills are to change in summer of ’16, in five weeks the old ones are out, new in! Considering they do not do tours, nice space to donder around, loved it! losed to the pubic but we went around in April 2016.  We did like our tour here, top guys are passionate about what they do, in fact two of them have over 60 years there.  The stills are to change in summer of ’16, in five weeks the old ones are out, new in! Considering they do not do tours, nice space to donder around, loved it!

Drams lined up to be consumed at Glenlossie Distillery, Speyside

GLENMORANGIE

Far north but worth the trip, it’s a nice tour and a good taste, with options for extra tastings. Decent distillery tour and a nice location, good views here in the land of the Picts. Been here many times as it’s a well known dram and the tourists (how I make my living) like to see it. Easy to get to from Inverness and there are many more distilleries on this route. Liz loves the Quanta Ruben, port finish. Paul will dram any of them.

Glenmorangie Distillery chose their logo based on this old pictish stone

GLEN MORAY

Pronounced Murray. Good shop, good food and refreshments, excellent tour. Arranged a tour here specially at 7am for a guest (Russia), extensive tour with the manager Graeme and many drams. I like this place, near Elgin and easy to get to once  you found your way round the houses. The product is not bad either and the drams are great prices, thanks as always to Iain, Visitor Centre Manager who really looks after us. We visit here so often I think we may get an invite to the xmas dinner? Paul was here with Ingvar Ronde in 2015, when the very first peated whisky was released, all 7 of us  got a signed bottle. Do consider their aged drams, excellent value.

 Iain at Glen Moray distillery takes Ingvar Ronde and us on a tasting journey.

GLENROTHES

Another December visit in heavy snow. Again we were the only mad fools to be there but we had a good nosey around the place, it’s big! Very scenic in the summer. Rothes has a few other distilleries, we went to see where Cappaerdonich used to be, just a pile of rubble when we were there, a shame. Returned with Ingvar Ronde, great tour, stills, cooperage and tasting.

Coopers working on site at The Glenrothes Distillery

GLEN SCOTIA

Malt Whisky Association of Finland were here with us in August 2016 and even despite the rain we had a grand tour and great taste, although a small distillery, it has a lot to offer, I for one will be going back as soon as I can. See Paul’s interview here; http://whiskytours.scot/interview-ian-mcalister-glenscotia-distillery

GLENTURRET

Also known as Famous Grouse. A good tourist tour. Very nice restaurant, good bar and fun shop. We do take tours here but no so much the hard core whisky lovers as general tourists. I would say this is a distillery with maybe more photos taken of the big bird than any other although they are moving away from the bird for marketing? Paul’s favourite dram? Hard one that, their single malt is good, I also like the Smoky Black.

Glenturret Distillery, also known as the Famous Grouse

HIGHLAND PARK

One of only a few distilleries where they turn the malt by hand. 20% of their malt comes from Orkney. It’s a great wee place, a very good visit, nice shop and staff, I do like to tour this one, no matter how often I go, mainly with tour groups and not so many whisky experts on tour. I like the drams, I have the latest St Magnus – it’s stunning. We had Martin Markvardsen (Highland Park and The Macallan Senior Brand Ambassador) on our coach as guides around Orkney, how good is that? He also brought with him a good few drams to taste on our day out, a whisky tasting on the peat bog was brilliant! Jani, one of guests from Finland handed over his hand made guitar, lovingly made from a Highland Park cask.

Jani, from Finland hands over his hand made guitar. Lovingly made from a Highland Park cask.

JURA

The stills are very tall and it is a much lighter alcohol which goes over the top creating a lighter whisky, a long way to go to get there and a most expensive wee ferry – £18 return trip for our car! Something needs to be done about that. However I do like all their drams and a decent distillery. Just a shame about the ferry, all the people of Jura are nice, wonder what they think? Willie gave a superb tasting session. We were there again many times and in September (2016) by boat! That will be good, by boat after a visit to Bunny Heaven by boat too.

Jura Distillery actually has palm trees outside it! Here is the proof!

KINGSBARNS

Kingsbarns Distillery is based near St Andrews in Fife.  They use Fife grown barley and water from 100m below the distillery, fill just 24 casks a week.  We have taken a tour here and know people at the company.   We feel it’s a bit of a “show” distillery, more about the concept rather than the product and aimed at selling their other products, we can’t see it being a large player.  Their new gin area is a real wow experience however!

Liz in reception of Kingbarns Distillery, Fife

KNOCKDHU

The knock hill is known to locals as anCnoc, this comes from the Gaelic black hill. Transformed by the weather, the heathers and other vegetation appear black due to the natural shadows on the hill. A traditional cast iron mash tun is used in the mashing process although not as efficient as its modern counterparts it is similar to what was first used. I had a really superb tour here with the distillery manager, Gordon, my guest had 6 drams, myself; driving could only sniff! Took Liz here but Gordon was away so we have a wee man full of the “Doric” taking us around, what fun, Liz whispered to me after 20 minutes “I don’t understand a word he is saying”, I did my best on translation – good man, great fun!

Knockdu Distillery is also known by local Scots as An noc distillery

LAGAVULIN

Near Port Ellen on Islay, peaty heaven if this is what you like – I do! David is a guide there and good fun, I was there in April (2016 with Ingvar Ronde) the tour was excellent, the drams too – many of them! Lagavulin is one of the three Kildalton distilleries in the south of Islay and sits between Ardbeg and Laphroaig at the “Hollow by the Mill”, translated from the Gaelic lag a’mhuilin, pronounced as La-ga-voolin. Records show illicit distillation on the site as far back as 1742. Malt Whisky Association of Finland were back here with us in August 2016 purchases, tour, sample tasting and great craic, what could be better?

Lagavulin Distillery on the island of Islay, west coast of Scotland

LAPHROAIG

Another clean and tidy place, love the entrance the first thing you see is comfy couches! A good museum/guide…. to wander around, a great distillery tour and dram ,with great staff – what more could you want? Down in the south near Ardbeg this one. I did like it, the tours, the drinks, the staff and the place. I do like a peaty dram and this supplies just that!  Not for Liz’s lips!  See an interview with a bottle of Laphroig SelectMalt Whisky Association of Finland were back here with us in August 2016 I would say one of the best distillery tours in this trip, they each came away with a complimentary bottle, filled by themselves.

The whisky casks outside Laphroig Distillery, Islay

LINDORES ABBEY

The distillery is being created by converting an old abbey farm steading, the glass-fronted still room looks directly out over the abbey grounds. The water comes from a borehole near the distillery, the same supply used in 1494.  So, how was our visit? Well, slightly disappointing to be honest. The wee girl showing us around knew the history and patter but stumbled on a few whisky questions.  We both felt it will be more of a tourist attraction, than a whisky distillery.  It has been done very well, but am thinking, our usual whisky geeks will be left like we were, something missing.

exterior view of the still room at Lindores Abbey Distillery

LINKWOOD

April 2016, closed to the public but we were taken around by the manager, it was rushed, we felt like we were interrupting his day. Could have been so much better, it had all the promise but did not deliver, we were happy to leave, poor show Diageo. Too modern but a 1960’2 style for me, we tried the 12 year old, pretty bland to be honest.  This could have been so much better, but och well, it is a closed to the public place.

LOCH LOMOND

A closed to the public distillery, when I took a tour here I was flabergasted, a malt distillery with grain right next door, under the same roof! Gavin Durnin (Sales Director) took us around, the stills use towers/columns for 4 stills and is really unusual.  The SWA call them Lomond towers but we were assured they are not. A great tour everywhere, distillery, cooperage, warehouse etc. Our good friend Don has recently joined LL company and that means we took our tour group here in August 2016 – the Malt Whisky Association of Finland. We spent two hours here, split into 2 groups, tasting and distillery tour, then swapped around, it was exceptional, thanks to all there.

A selection of whisky bottles from Loch Lomond Distillery

MACALLAN

Near Craigellachie. Big, big place with new warehousing recently come online. A good tour here, small shop, no food/drinks but the staff are really good with us. My suggestion is  the 6 Pillars Tour.  Due to come online next year is a huge new distillery, with its “town” of warehouses, a vastly new designed distillery, much of it underground, this will be something to behold!  Everyone knows how good their drams are, but it’s a wee bit of a concern now the “no age statements” are coming more to the fore.  Liz likes the Sienna.

The new Folio 1 whisky from Macallan Distillery, Speyside

MANNOCHMORE

A closed to the public distillery but we visited April 2016.  It’s in the centre of the Glenlossie plant, very similar but more modern, again lots of room to move, still room is good. Spent a good hour here, learned a lot. They have a unique feature, the bottom of the stills are made from STAINLESS STEEL.

A bottle of 12 year old at Mannochmore distillery

OBAN

My home town so can I really slam it? Well no, it’s a Diageo distillery it’s good, interesting, but I do feel you get a similar tour at many Diageo distilleries – but Liz really enjoyed it. However, I love the drink, it is on my top ten list of single malts. It is situated within spitting distance of the bay, looking to another favourite of mine, Mull. Now there’s a different distillery!  Oban Little Bay my favourite; A dense mouth feel sugary and minty, warming, richly fruited malt loaf.  Available to buy at our Distillery Shop if I haven’t bought them all.

Oban Distillery, owned by Diageo, west coast of Scotland

OLD PULTENEY

In February Deborah took me on a personally guided tour, gave me all the info and low downs, even a cup of tea! I think she felt sorry for me, I was soaking wet and it was snowing outside with real high winds. I even got a lift back to my hotel, fantastic girls here, going back soon. We took the Malt Whisky Association of Finland (28 of them) here, good tour, fab drams, our pal Ian Horne has everything they have bottled over the recent year, we have the 40 year old also! For sale if you wish?

A pipe band playing with Old Pulteney being advertised on the side of a drum

ROYAL LOCHNAGAR

Another Diageo, this is one I like a lot. It’s near the German Queen’s place I know but well, if you can sidetrack that castle and just go to the distillery, great! It’s got a good tour, a nice shop, a very good tasting room and the tour is different from other Diageo’s.  It’s not computer run, that’s the thing I like and that’s what makes it different and likable to me. Diageo take a lot of their staff here on training days, it’s a good old fashioned distillery.

the sign for Royal Lochnagar Distillery

SCAPA DISTILLERY

The visitor centre opened in 2015 so we paid a visit to Scapa Distillery in July 2015 with the Malt Whisky Association of Finland, all 28 of them! It was a really good tour, a great location and we had a superb tasting and “buying” end to the visit. The special release 20 year old was amazing.  We can’t wait to return to Orkney again.

Scapa Distillery owned by Chivas, on Orkney

SPEYSIDE DISTILLERY

We were taken on a private tour here by Sandy the manager.  With years of experience elsewhere in the whisky industry, there was nothing he couldnee answer us. He even  gave us both a book. A really nice small distillery with a great wee still room.  It is set in a fantastic location, the most southern in Speyside, hence it’s name. After a really good tour including all outbuildings, we were taken in to endure a few drams.  We left with wee bottle samples and a hankering to return. Since our visit we have become great friends with the distillery, directors, staff and marketing – thanks to Paul Dempsey, we’ve met met many times. We learned all about Taiwan sales and Michael Own as Ambassador. We have several bottles at home and give samples away when on tour, we will return here in June.

Liz sipping a dram in Speyside Distillery

SPRINGBANK

A great tour had here, excellent staff, very interesting tour and boy what a tasting session afterwards at Cadenhead! As we left the distillery happy we arrived into the tasting room and had an even better time with some good shopping time well spent.  Back here again in August with the Malt Whisky Assocation of Finland who enjoyed a totally outstanding tasting session in the warehouse, before almost taking everything from the shop – much money changed hands at Cadenhead.

 

A selection of samples at Springbank Distillery

STRATHISLA

A Chivas distillery – one which we have been to many times.  Used to be our favourite but some of the basic tour guides haven’t “got it”.   We suggest an upmarket tour here.  It is stunning,  possibly the most scenic distillery in Scotland.  The library really is a great place to sample a few drams, it’s more like a five star hotel than a distillery.

With short, small copper stills and natural spring water, Strathisla produces a full-bodied single malt Scotch whisky. It is the heart of all the Chivas Regal blends. Terrible website!

Strathisla Distillery, Keith, Speyside

STRATHEARN

Probably the best micro distillery and here in Perthshire too.  Tony is doing a great job with his craft gins (Heather Rose being Liz’s favourite).  Another year or so before we taste his whisky but we feel sure it will be delicious, distilled in tiny wee copper stills from Portugal  Good luck Strathearn.

Tony, the owner of Strathearn Distillery with his wee stills

TOBERMORY

On the Isle of Mull. Maybe a bit biased here being a McLean, it’s my island after all! Taken this tour several times, always good.  Small one this but nevertheless a good one. I find the 10 year old Tob quite ordinary really, love the 15 year old though and I do like the Ledaig (lee chig). Apart from that, it’s a grand location and right next to a great pub, owned by Neil, go in for some grub and a dram! I keep saying it’s great and they have great shop, but I never get a polo shirt handed to me, typical Maclean’s! The 21 year old Tob is a a really good dram, we have a few of the 18 year old bottles from the Clan Maclean Gathering if anyone is interested?

Ledaig cask at Tobermory Distillery on Mull

TOMATIN

A highland distillery not far south from Inverness. A very different one to visit, great shop, friendly staff and a very good tour. Have been here a few times and each time I see something different.  It was the largest in Scotland at one time, a huge town of warehouses still here, just recently (2016) re branded and re packaged everything – I do like what they have done – see recent blog on Tomatin Distillery.

Tomatin Distilllery south of Inverness

TOMINTOUL

On the Glenlivet estate, a rare find and a great tour we had by the Distillery Manager, Tom. Unusual as the stills are, exact copies of each other, I cannee mind another distillery like this. A rare old dram they produce, well a few actually. Owned by Angus Dundee Distillers, this was a pleasure to see.   Our tour was in the close down time, there were wee lids here and there, maintenance going on but this just made it  better. Not only that it was very educational, we soaked it in. The drams were perfect, especially the Ballantruan. We shared a dram with the owner last week so even though it’s closed to the public, we can get you in!

The road sign for Tomintoul Distillery, often hidden by snow in winter

TULLIBARDINE

Another private distillery now new owners, excellent drams and they try hard to produce many options and expressions. Good for a tour, even better for the longer more in depth tours. Not far from where I live, maybe the closest, 20 minutes away. Good shop and sells more than drams. They are rapidly expanding – maybe ten times the size they were, we will be back there soon for an update for you.

A drum made from staves inside Tullibardine Distillery

WOLFBURN

Visited in February, a brand new distillery, on a small scale. It sits in Thurso and is now the most northern distillery on the Scottish mainland. Shane showed me around and we had a good chat – Paul’s trip. All credit to the owners and staff for bringing this distillery alive, it’s not got a visitor centre, but I was told we could bring wee tours in, excellent! We were there again in 2015 with 28 Fins, they all got a taste of various new makes, the new whisky is now out, get one if you can!

Wolfburn Distillery, the most northern distillery on the Scottish mainland

ST MAGDALENE, LITTLEMILL & ROSEBANK

We have strayed to all of these closed or “gone” distilleries with my friend Tim, from Moscow. He is a whisky fiend and likes to see where distilleries “were”, so we drove around car parks, housing complexes and canals looking and taking pictures. A real whisky man!

We also have a list of Irish Distilleries too >

An Irish whiskey pot still, ,Midletion Distillery, Ireland

How to taste Whisky

Shauna Jennens, Distillery Ambassador at The Dalmore Distillery visited WorldWhisky.se and guided us through the core range of Dalmore.

The art of maturation in whisky