Scotland is known for its beautiful highlands, friendly people and of course, whisky. For those looking for an unforgettable experience, we’ve already covered the Highland Whisky Trip for those who only have one day. But now, we’ve written the second part to the full whisky tour. If you missed the first part of this post, you can read our Highland Whisky Tour Starting at Tullibardine Distillery.
Here is the second part of our whisky tour guide from Edinburgh, so don your kilt (we’re joking here of course), grab a whisky glass and get ready to embark on the final part of your amazing whisky tour through the majestic Scottish Highlands!
Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery
There is always a peace and tranquillity when visiting this distillery. Maybe it’s the lack of road noise, the sound of the birds or the rush of the Pitilie Burn that flows past the distillery. This always seems like a place to stop.
Designed by the famous distillery architect Charles Doig, building started in 1896 with production starting in 1898 to provide more whisky for the Dewars blend, the distillery is now owned by Bacardi along with Craigellachie, Royal Brackla, Aultmore and The Deveron (MacDuff). All of their whiskies can be tried in the whisky lounge/café. The two highlights sampled on this visit where the Double Double 21 year old which was incredibly smooth and something for the non-whisky drinker to try and a 25 year old Aultmore that was sublime, a definite whisky for a summer’s day or even in winter to remind you of summer – sun, grass, herbal and clean on the palate.
Dewars is also a blend that reminds you of why blended whisky is so popular. If you are a fan of any of these whiskies, then this is a site of pilgrimage for you and any visit should include a tour which includes a visit to the Heritage Museum.
For the non -whisky drinker there is the nearby town of Aberfeldy to explore and for something more active there is paintballing, white water rafting on the Tay, and mountain bike hire. Certainly, enough to keep them occupied whilst you immerse yourself in your favourite passion. To book a tour you’ll need to go onto the Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery page. For accommodation and “things to do” you can find out more information at Visit Aberfeldy.
Situated in a wooded glen beside the river Turret just outside of Crieff, this is a very pleasantly situated distillery and has sufficient attractions on site to make it a destination for everyone.
Thought to have been built before 1763 the distillery is known as the oldest working distillery in Scotland. It has changed ownership a few times during those 250 odd years and closed between 1923 and 1957. In 1980 the distillery was amongst the first to open a visitor centre, welcoming the one millionth visitor in 1991. In 2019 a new chapter opened with the distillery being purchased by a joint venture led by the Lalique group, a French luxury lifestyle company.
Despite the modern draff trailer (draff is the spent grain used to feed cattle), and the fresh whitewash, there is a feel of history and tradition here. You can imagine it as an old farm distillery it likely was and feel yourself transported back to the eighteenth century. This history and tradition still play a large part in the production of whisky here, small batches, hand selected.
Previously, the distillery was famous for two things, as the home of The Famous Grouse Experience, and Towser the record breaking cat, who is reported to have caught around 29,000 mice according to the Guinness Book of Records no less, during a near 24 year reign as a top distillery mouser. The current two distillery cats, Glen and Turret may not be so famous, or be faced with such a vermin problem, but definitely look cute lounging around the distillery. Perhaps they symbolise the change in direction that is very evident at The Glenturret? This is definitely a place to stay, at least for a few hours. This is a destination that you need to visit. The changes made in the last three years under the new ownership are literally astounding.
The Glenturret distillery has something to please everyone. From the beautifully presented café to the Michelin starred restaurant. From the 2023 gold medal winning core range of whiskies to the expensive collector’s bottles (if you can get hold of them). And if you do spend a wee bit too much on the whisky and need to placate your better half, then pop in to the Lalique Boutique with its wide range of Lalique perfume, jewellery and crystal glassware amongst other Lalique items. To top it off is the superb bar offering over 93 expressions of Glenturret and over 250 whiskies from around Scotland along with some wonderful vintage port.
Tours start at half past the hour and can be booked on The Glenturret website. The Lalique restaurant offers both lunch and dinner and is open Wednesday to Saturday. Browse the dining options here at The Glenturret Restaurant.
This is a luxury destination with something for everyone, even the café seemed to be influenced by that Michelin Star, but still offering café pricing. Certainly, one of the most interesting and best Tuna Mayo sandwiches I’ve ever had. With the tourist town of Crieff on the doorstep, then this is a place you can stop off at, enjoy the welcome and hospitality at the distillery, before retiring to your B&B or even staying at the famous Crieff Hydro hotel. For accommodation you will just need to Google it, although I’m pretty certain the distillery staff will be happy to advise you.
Deanston is not an iconic Highland distillery, it’s an old cotton mill, a great monolith of a building, that closed in 1965 and was brought back to life as a distillery by Brodie Hepburn. The waters from the river Teith were considered soft enough to distil whisky and the mill used this water to power the looms. It definitely produces good whisky. Move forwards to the present day and Deanston still obtains all the electricity it requires to run the distillery from the river and exports the surplus back to the National Grid. A newish distillery ahead of its time?
Currently owned by Distell Group Ltd, who also own Bunnahabhain and Tobermory distilleries, Deanston produces unpeated whisky with the majority matured in ex-bourbon casks. There is something about their organic range of bottlings where you can taste the clean freshness, well worth trying.
The undoubted highlight of the experiences offered to visitors is the Warehouse 4 tasting. Here you can hand draw whisky from some of the best barrels and experience the flavours of Deanston whilst sat in the cool warehouse. A jumper may be a necessity, but the experience is well worth it. Finish with a visit to the distillery shop where samples from both Bunnahabhain and Tobermory may be available. The staff are always very friendly and seem very generous. Rather unusually even distillery exclusives are available from their website. A boon perhaps for Deanston enthusiasts who live in England.
For the non-whisky drinker, the café offers excellent food and a walk along the banks of the Teith, and exploration of the historic village will take time away. Both the distillery and village of Deanston are listed, with the buildings dating back to the Georgian era.
The current owners, Ian Macleod Distillers Ltd, acquired the distillery in 2003. They also own Tamdhu and are rebuilding Rosebank distillery. The catchphrase for Glengoyne is “unhurried since 1833” and certainly once you cross the distillery gates time seems to slow. It is one of a handful of distilleries that has seen continuous production since opening. It is also unusual in that the whisky is produced in the Highlands but matured in the Lowlands. This happens as the distillery sits on the Highland Line, the fault that splits the Highlands from the lowlands and the warehousing is on the lowland side of the fault.
The distillery is beautifully situated and very photogenic with the wooded glen rising up the slopes of Dumgoyne and many of the buildings being the “originals”.
It is difficult to pick a favourite bottle from Glengoyne. Perhaps the latest “Teapot dram” or 25 year old? All can be sampled in the shop, and purchasing a bottle means you can sample the slower pace of life when you get home.
There are a variety of tours on offer ranging from sampling a couple of whiskies to the 25 and 30 year old and even making your own blend. Perhaps the pick is the monthly walking tour, which lasts two hours, roughly the same time as it might take you to walk up Dumgoyne and experience views across Loch Lomond and Glasgow. For the less active non-whisky drinker maybe a slow amble up the wooded glen to the waterfall is very restful.
The Final Verdict on this Highland Whisky Trip From Edinburgh
This can be a whistle stop tour of eight contrasting distilleries with eight different core styles, or a leisurely trip. Each distillery offers something different or unique, which will be your favourite? Each of these distilleries deserves your time to explore more fully with the obvious places to stay overnight being Pitlochry, Crieff and Aberfeldy.
However you make the trip, some planning is essential. Even as a leisurely trip, sampling several cask strength whiskies each day is not good for your liver, so you need to decide which distilleries you’re going to spend time at. The three best to indulge your senses in are probably, The Glenturret, Aberfeldy and Deanston which also have suitable activities for the non-whisky enthusiast either within the distillery or within easy walking distance. If the driver happens to be a whisky enthusiast, whilst they may not be overly happy at not being able to indulge at the time, they will be able to enjoy any samples once home.
When planning, remember to save some budget to buy a few bottles and expect to overspend. You will find it impossible to only buy a couple of bottles and likely will buy from each distillery visited. Interestingly on this trip, whilst purchases were made at each distillery visited, the undoubted winner was The Glenturret with the best value bottle tasted, the 7 year old peat smoked at £53 and the most desirable whisky, the stunning 33 year old Trinity Provenance at £9,800. You can also enquire about the second in the Trinity series, the 33 year old The Trinity Prowess at £11,800. Ah well, roll on that lottery win…
What is obvious to us though, is that taking part in this whisky tour (whether it’s only a day, or a few), you will get to enjoy the tranquil beauty of the Scottish Highlands, from the warm hospitality of the locals and the unforgettable experience that this trip has to offer. We certainly recommend this trip to anyone who is looking for a unique way to experience Scotland and its whisky.