Scotland’s Malt Whisky Trail
Whisky connoisseurs and the whisky curious make the pilgrimage to Scotland for the aqua vitae. The word whisky comes from the Gaelic uisge beatha, meaning ‘water of life’.
Whisky can only be called Scotch if it is distilled and matured in Scotland. That made in other countries may be whisky (or whiskey) but it’s not Scotch!
Visit an incredible 17 world class distilleries on our 14 day itinerary specially developed for our motorhome hire clients. In addition to the Malt Whisky Trail, our 14 day itinerary takes you along the the West Coast Whisky Trail, which blends incredible scenery and visitor attractions with some of the best single malt whisky in the world for an unforgettable holiday. For the West Coast leg of the trail, the ferry company Caledonian MacBrayne offers a West Coast Whisky Pass, which gives you a range of value added benefits, discounts and promotions when visiting the distilleries on the trail. We suggest that you book all distillery tours in advance to avoid disappointment.
Arrive in Edinburgh to pick up your campervan at Roseisle. Drive from Edinburgh to Forres
Days 2 – 3 Distillery tours
Invererne Rd, Forres, Morayshire IV36 3EB
Travel to the outskirts of the ancient market town of Forres in your motorhome hire, where Benromach Distillery has been turning out single malt scotch since 1898. The once defunct distillery has been extensively renovated in a way that embraces its original character. The finest Scottish barley, pure spring water from the surrounding hills and aging in oak casks combine to form the rich fruit, sweet chocolate and delicate spicy aromas of Benromach.
Dallas Dhu Historic Distillery
Mannchie Road, Forres, Morayshire, IV36 2RR
Dallas Dhu Historic Distillery has been called ‘A perfectly preserved time capsule of the distiller’s art,’ and is run by Historic Scotland. Visitors can see how whisky was made around the turn of the century, when the distillery supplied malt whisky for Wright and Greig’s ‘Roderick Dhu’Blend.’ Enjoy a free dram after the tour and stay for a picnic on the lovely grounds.
Knockando, Aberlour, Banffshire AB38 7RY
The only distillery started by a woman (along with her smuggler husband), Cardhu is the spiritual home of Johnnie Walker in Speyside – in addition to the Carhdu range of whiskies, it is used in Johnnie Walker blends. Start your whisky journey here with the light 12 year old, then move on to the 15 and 18 year offerings.
Dufftown, Banffshire AB55 4DH
The story of Glenfiddich started with William Grant, who after 20 years of learning the skills to produce high quality Scotch whisky at the Mortlach distillery in Dufftown, Scotland, dreamed of starting his own distillery. With a vision in place and the help of his seven sons and two daughters, Grant began building his own distillery by hand. History was made in 1887 when Grant’s Glenfiddich distillery was born and the first spirit flowed from the stills on Christmas day. After five generations the legacy lives on in the William Grant & Sons Ltd business, where the traditional production techniques for Glenfiddich – established by William Grant himself – remain in the hands of the family who founded it.
Elgin Rd, Rothes, Charlestown of Aberlour, Banffshire AB38 7BS
Glen Grant is a genuine Single Malt Scotch Established in 1840. The brand is currently the world’s number five selling Single Malt Scotch Whisky and is an Italian icon and market leader. Renowned for its clear colour and pure taste, deriving from the purifiers and tall slender stills designed by its inventor James Grant, Glen Grant also distinguishes itself for its quality, authenticity and versatility.
Banffshire, Ballindalloch AB37 9DB
The reputation of The Glenlivet, the world’s number two single malt, has been further enhanced by its recently upgraded distillery visitor centre being named Best Visitor Attraction by the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards, cementing its standing as a must-see Speyside tourist attraction. The centre, which has been in operation for 35 years and attracts over 40,000 tourists annually from around the world, includes three different daily tours that enhance the visitor experience and provide the opportunity to hand-fill and purchase your very own personalised bottle of The Glenlivet 18 Year Old single cask selection.
Days 4 – 7
Day 4 – Drive to the Moray and Speyside area in your motorhome hire for three nights and three outstanding whisky attractions, including Glen Moray, the Speyside Cooperage and Strathisla.
Bruceland Rd, Elgin, Morayshire IV30 1YE
Wine Enthusiast magazine named Glen Moray Classic one of its “Top 100 Spirits for 2015.” Distilled in the lush agricultural valley of Moray in Elgin, Scotland, Glen Moray Classic combines locally malted barley and the pristine waters of the nearby River Lossie to craft a delicate, well-balanced whisky. In addition to Glen Moray Classic and Glen Moray Classic Port Cask Finish Scotch Whisky, the distillery also carefully handcrafts six other award-winning whiskies including their 12 Year, 16 Year and 25 Year Port Cask Finish.
Craigellachie, Banffshire AB38 9RS
No visit to Speyside in a motorhome hire would be complete without a visit to the Speyside Cooperage, the only place in the UK that you can see a working cooperage. Using traditional methods and tools, the family owned cooperage produces casks from fine American oak wood. Watch the fascinating journey of a cask from its birth, and if you fancy, try it out yourself!
Seafield Ave, Keith, Banffshire AB55 5BS
Distilled at the oldest facility in the Scottish highlands, the quality of Strathisla 12 Year Old has been consistently recognised by the world’s most esteemed international spirits competitions.
Day 7 – Speyside to Fort William in your motorhome hire
Drive from Speyside to Fort William, the outdoor capital of Scotland, where the fine whisky is matched only by the spectacular Highland scenery. Tour Ben Nevis Distillery before heading down to Oban, The Gateway to the Isles, where you will spend the night in your campervan hire before catching the vehicle ferry to the Hebridean isle of Islay, famous for its smoky single malts. This wee island boasts eight distilleries, all of which run guided tours. You’ll spend three nights on Islay to give you time to tour as many of the distilleries as your heart desires, along with fine island hospitality and seafood.
Ben Nevis Distillery
Lochy Bridge, Fort William PH33 6TJ
The Ben Nevis Distillery is one of the oldest licensed distilleries in Scotland. Located in the Outdoor Capital of Scotland, the views here are among the best in the country, rivalled only by the whisky! The visitor centre was built in 1825, and offers tours on several levels, from an ‘Introduction to Ben Nevis’ to the ‘Executive.’
Spend the night in Oban and tour the Oban Distillery, as well as hit the bustling streets of this popular Victorian era bay town. Enjoy dinner here, after all, it is the ‘Seafood Capital of Scotland.’!
Stafford St, Oban PA34 5NH
The Oban Distillery – one of the oldest and smallest distilleries in Scotland – has been making fine Single malt whisky since 1794. Made by a small group of artisans, Oban Scotch whisky is distilled in tiny lantern-shaped copper pot stills, which are among the smallest in Scotland. In fact, the stills are so small they need to rest between each batch so the copper can recuperate. This results in a truly balanced, extremely smooth whisky. Situated on a little bay between the West Highlands and the Islands, a mild maritime climate with a background of heather and peat is perfectly echoed in the malt whisky produced at Oban.
Travel from Oban to Islay for 3 nights
Islay is the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides, and is also known as “The Queen of the Hebrides.” Its mild climate and rich peaty soil make it ideal for creating whisky, and despite having a population of not much more than 3,000, it’s home to no fewer than eight distilleries. You will drive down to Kennacraig, then take the ferry to Port Askaig on Islay, leaving the worries of the world behind you as you say goodbye to the mainland. It’s easy to drive your campervan hire onto the ferry, but we suggest you book ahead.
School St, Bowmore, Isle of Islay PA43
Founded in 1779, Bowmore is the oldest Distillery on Islay, where the malts are famous for their characteristic smokiness – and Bowmore is no exception; they carefully smoke their malt and use skills handed down from generation to generation to craft a perfectly balanced Single Malt. They are one of only a few distilleries anywhere which still produces its own floor malted barley, hand-turned by traditional wooden malt shovel and hand drawn machinery. They draw water from the Laggan River, with its rich peaty overtones, and it’s the Islay peat that fires the malt-drying kiln.
Port Ellen, Isle of Islay PA42 7DU
Laphroaig Single Malt Scotch Whisky, distributed by Maxxium UK, has been awarded the ‘Whisky Visitor Attraction of the Year’ in Whisky Magazine’s global Icons of Whisky 2014 competition. The Whisky Magazine editorial panel noted that the Laphroaig Distillery “offers a warm welcome to visitors from across the world. From a walk-through tour to owning your piece of Islay, Laphroaig has stamped its mark on the visitor [centre] experience.” The distillery also won the ‘Scottish Icons of Whisky’ last year and is the current holder of the Drammie Award for best distillery tour in the world, which it has won for two consecutive years.
Argyll, Port Ellen, Isle of Islay PA42 7EA
Ardbeg prides itself on being the “Ultimate Islay Malt Whisky”. Established in 1815, Ardbeg is revered by connoisseurs around the world as the peatiest, smokiest and most complex of all the Islay malts. Ardbeg Galileo is the limited edition 12 Year Old Single Malt Whisky, which is a special vatting of different styles of Ardbeg laid down in 1999. The spirit has been matured in ex-Marsala wine casks from Sicily that add fruity aromas to Ardbeg’s famed smooth and peaty house style.
Day 11- Distillery tours and exploring the countryside
Distillery Cottages, Lagavulin, Isle of Islay PA42 7DZ
Lagavulin 16 year old single malt Scotch whisky speaks of the smoked peat and mineral water of the wild terrain of Islay. The distillery, cut into the romantic and rugged bay of Lagavulin, has been producing whisky since 1816. Favoured for its intense smoked aroma; Lapsang Souchong on the nose is followed by peat on the palate and sea salt, with an elegant wood finish.
Kilchoman Distillery Co
Rockside Farm, Bruichladdich, Isle of Islay PA49 7UT
A relative newcomer to the whisky scene in Scotland, Kilchoman is one of the smallest distilleries in Scotland. Using traditional methods, they are the only distillery in the country to finish the entire malting process on site – from growing their own barley to floor malting to bottling. Enjoy the tranquil rural setting at the farm while you visit.
Tour distilleries in the Port Askaig area
Caol Ila Distillery
Port Askaig, Isle of Islay PA46 7RL
Built in 1846, the distillery sits locked away on a small hidden cove near Port Askaig on the eastern shore of Islay overlooking the fast-moving Straits of Islay and the Paps of Jura beyond. It uses its own supply of water from nearby Loch Nam Ban. Enjoy a picnic in your motorhome hire with a view that is sure to be memorable!
Port Askaig, Isle of Islay PA46 7RP
Bunnahabhain is the flagship malt Scotch whisky from Burn Stewart Distillers and is exported to over 30 countries globally. The superior quality of the whisky is widely recognized with the brand consistently winning awards in international competitions. Unlike its neighbouring distilleries on the Island, Bunnahabhain embodies “the gentle taste of Islay”, as it is not a typically heavily peated smoke filled Islay malt.
Distillery tour and outdoor activities such as wildlife watching or golf – Islay is well known for both!
Isle of Islay, Argyll and Bute PA49
Bruichladdich brands include Links and peated malts, Port Charlotte and Octomore – the world’s most heavily peated whisky.
Islay to Roseisle
Here are some whisky terms to get you started planning your whisky themed holiday of a lifetime:
A Whisky Glossary
Barley malt, which is allowed to germinate and then dried and processed, is the raw material for malt whisky. It is fermented with yeast and distilled in a pot still. Considered by some to be superior to common grain whisky found in blends; however there are many quality grain whiskies produced in Scotland.
This means the whisky was produced in one distillery and is not blended with others, though a bottle of single malt may contain whisky from several batches within a distillery.
A blend of single malts, said to produce a more consistent product that can be ‘tuned’ to bring out a particular character.
Contains blended malt and grain whiskies, commonly 60% grain to 40% malt.
Newly distilled malt whisky is usually 115-120 degrees proof when it comes from the still, but is generally watered down and bottled at 70 proof for the British market. So cask strength malt whiskies are much stronger, bottled at a range of generally 100-110 proof, (or 57-63% alcohol by volume). These are often enjoyed diluted with a splash of water.