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A satnav-friendly guide to Scotland’s Malt Whisky Trail

A magical region of the Scottish highlands is home to over half of whisky distilleries in the whole of the UK. This area is known as Speyside, and it really is the heart of the whisky industry.

We’ve picked nine top sites in this area, comprised of seven operational distilleries, a renovated distillery which has been made into a whisky museum and the UK’s only operational cooperage. For the whisky fanatic it doesn’t get any better, a perfect day out for those with a passion for the water of life.

Pic: Mathieu Noel at Flickr

All of the distilleries along the trail offer something special, and below you’ll find the opening times and entry costs; all offer at least a basic tour although most provide a full tour with nosing sessions. There are generally a few pricing tiers so you won’t find yourself paying full whack for members of your party who aren’t old enough to enjoy a wee dram.

The trail we suggest clocks less than 80 miles, but as you’re driving around Scotland’s rolling hills you’d be forgiven for making up a route as you go along.

It is advisable to book yourself into local accommodation to avoid too long of a day, although once in Speyside it’s easy to find your way around thanks to plentiful signposts and you could complete the entire trail in a single day if you’re working to a grander schedule. You’ll no doubt have to sacrifice a few of the tours, but that will help you remain sober enough to get home in one piece.

If you’re travelling during the peak tourist season you should try and tie in your visit with one of the many whisky festivals that take place such as the Spirit Speyside Festival. This is a 5 day event usually overlapping April & May. These festivals will add atmosphere to the trip, and you are likely to find offers and opportunities that are otherwise unavailable.

A suggested route starting near Forres could run like this:

A: Dallas Dhu (historic distillery)

Postcode: IV36 2RR
The historic distillery of Dallus Dhu is situated on the outskirts of Forres. This is a great starting place as it outlines the story of how whisky used to be made between 1899 and 1983. This tour takes 30 minutes and prices remain the same throughout the year. Adults £5.20 & Children £2.60

B: Benromach

Postcode: IV36 3EB
Next on the trail is the first distillery, just 2 miles north west. The tour here lasts an hour and costs £3.50 each. This includes a voucher which gives you £2.50 off a £25 spend in the shop. Benromach also offer a VIP tour at £17.50 per person.

C: Glen Moray

Postcode: IV30 1YE
12 miles east along the A96 bring you to the 3rd stop at Glen Moray, home of the single malt scotch whisky of the same name. This distillery is situated on the outskirts of Elgin, and will take around a hour and a half to compete the tour for £3 per person.

D: Strathisla

Postcode: AB55 5BS
Strathisla has been producing fine single malt whiskies since 1786, a further 18 miles east along the A96 in the historic town of Keith. The standard tour allows under 18’s free entry, and adults £5 are per person. Strathisla also operate two special adult tours over the weekend priced at £25 per person. Saturday is “The Ultimate Chivas Experience” and Sundays are “Straight From the Cask”.

E: Glen Grant

Postcode: AB38 7BS
The next distillery can be found by heading West to the edge of the river Spey. Glen Grant has been distilling single malt whisky for 170 years, and if the weather is nice there is a preserved Victorian garden to admire. Under 8’s cannot enter production areas but can still enjoy the visitor centre. Adults £3.50 & Under 18’s are free.

F: Speyside Cooperage

Postcode: AB38 9RS
Speyside Cooperage is 4 miles south along the river Spey, and this is the only operational cooperage in the UK. Here you can experience the cask-making art form which uses techniques and processes which have been passed down from generation to generation.
Adults are £3.30 and Children £2.50.

G: Glenfiddich

Postcode: AB55 4DH
Glenfiddich is the world most awarded single malt whisky in the world, and is a brand many people will be familiar with. The distillery features a free standard tour, or full the full experience you can pay £20 to take part in the Connoisseurs” tour. Great for anyone looking to sample their finest whiskies, but you’ll need to book in advance.

H: The Glenlivet

Postcode: AB37 9DB
The Glenlivet is around 14 miles from Glenfiddich, and as you’ll be nearing the end of the trail you’ll be pleased to know it offers a free a standard tour, although again you can opt for a more detailed tour and private tasting for £25.

I: Cardhu

Postcode: AB38 7RY
The last stop on the Scottish whisky tour is the Cardhu distillery. The distillery offers the  “Glassic Tour” which is excellent value for a full tour with tutored nosing sessions and a free glass. All of this is just £8 per person. Cardhu is a silky single malt, and a great way to finish.
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