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Traveling Scotland - distillery tips?

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Traveling Scotland - distillery tips?
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ERC
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 5:07 pm    Post subject: Traveling Scotland - distillery tips? Reply with quote
 
Next July my wife and I will be traveling to Scotland, and we hope to work in a few distillery visits. I would be most grateful if those of you who have done this would provide me with a few tips: Which distilleries give the best tours (for someone with my kind of contacts - none), who to contact, dining & lodging near the distilleries, etc. Anything at all would help. FYI: I will not be traveling to Islay, and expect to spend a week or two in the Highlands, maybe getting out to Skye (Talisker) or to the Orkneys (Highland Park). Thanks in advance. Ed

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2011 2:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
 
We haven't been to Scotland since 2005 and a lot has changed, so I'm not going to offer any specific distillery advice.

However, we've had amazing times scheduling our trips to coincide with local Highland Games, preferably within walking distance from your hotel / B&B bed. These events are an amazing glimpse into the local scene and are unlike anything else you'll experience in Scotland. Hang around the pipers competing in the Games and either ask where they'll be drinking that night or troll through the local bars - you'll find them. Nothing like a series of bagpipe solos late at night indoors while drinking single malt off the bar. Totally surreal.

Best towns for this in our experience is

1) Pitlochry, which has Blair Athol and Edradour nearby. Best HF for late night bagpipe riffing.

2) Grantown-on-Spey which has less bars and a bit more rural flavor. More drinking too from my one visit.

There are highland games everywhere though through most of the summer and early fall. Go hungry, bring a flask of malt whisky to share with new friends and make an afternoon/evening out of it. For midway games, try your hand at "Bat the Rat" and other strange ancient games, often with scotch whisky as the top prize.

Have a great time and bring back some single malt you can't get here!


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2011 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
 
When we were there in 2009, we found that a lot of Distilleries were closed on weekends. I'd also point out that it will take longer to get from place to place than in the States as the roads there are generally much smaller (and windier) than in the states.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2011 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
 
A lot of distilliries do good tours these days. Most have special tours which includes some kind of extra tastings

I would do some research in advance. If you decide to go to Talisker, they might not have hteir special tour on every day, so a visit to Skye should be planned carefully

I always aim to stay near a good pub. It is nice to be able to go out for a real ale in the evening or a nice whisky

In Speyside there's Highlander Inn in Craigellachie and the Mashtun in Aberlour. Aberlour, the distillery does great tours for the whisky entusiast. So does Balvenie.

But sometimes it is also interesting to visit a distillery because it is somewhat different or give you the chance to bottle your own

Here are some other favourites in the Highlands:
Pulteney : great fill your own bottling possibility
Deanston : a different distillery
Glen Grant : Nice garden
Pitlochry : As Dr. Entropy said, a very nice village. Moulin Inn is the place to visit as well as distilleries
Glengoyne : the range of different tours will suit any wishes and walletsize

End of the day I tend to like most distilleries. Some distilleries can be very tourist, like Strathisla. End of the day I would plan my trip for other things and then visit nearby distilleries as they happen to be, maybe excluded a couple of distilleries you feel is a must for you to see. A good example here is Orkney. The Island is VERY worthy a visit, but don't go for the distilleries. Scapa is closed and HP did a VERY mediocre tour when I was there. But sights like Rings of Brodgar and Maes Howe are spectacular, if you are into things like that

End of the day you never know how good your visit will be. I had awful tours at same distilleries that gave me splendid tours. Sometimes you just have to be lucky

I made a google map of my favourite restaurants and pubs : http://g.co/maps/qcdvg

It need to be updated I think and it doesn't include everything out there, as it only has places I have visited

If you have a wish for a specific distillery, that doesnt have open, try phone them and ask for the possibility for a visit. Chances are they say yes, if its not Diageo, Chivas or Edrington group Smile

We have done some excellent tours at Benriach, Daftmill, Glencadam, Fettercairn this way and even Glenburgie.

Other distilleries I liked : Glen Ord, Glenfarclas, Cragganmore, Glenglassaugh, Glenmorangie, Balblair.... well the list is long Smile

Steffen


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