My husband and I leave for Scotland in a few days. We will be staying 4 nights in Edinburgh (with a day trip to Glasgow), then driving to Inverness for 3 nights. I am interested in learning about Whiskey and doing a tasting. I’ve never been a big fan of whiskey, but I figure if there were ever a place to acquire the taste, it would be Scotland! I would appreciate any recommendations in Edinburgh, Glasgow, around Inverness or anyplace we could stop en route from Edinburgh to Inverness. Thanks in advance!
Here is something you can do in Edinburgh:
Think about letting someone else do the driving as the UK has very strict drink driving laws.
This might seem pedantic but it’s important to whisky fans: Scotch Whisky does not have an E. Irish whiskey does.
I had a fun tour and tasting at Balvenie in Dufftown. Informative tour that showed how whisky was made and we got to sample from 2 casks in the warehouse. Full strength at 61% ABV. Back in the tasting room we tried 6 different whiskies. I was surprised that the distillery seemed to offer good pricing on their offerings vs retail. Most wineries in the US that I’ve been to stick to list price.
The tour was small group of maybe 10 or so and must be arranged in advance. The shop is only open for sales to tour participants so no walk ins. Their nearby sister brand Glenfiddich may offer tours too.
I’m a whisky novice so take what I’m about to write with a big grain of salt. I believe that the whisky types vary by region. In Speyside the whisky tends to be more of the sweet fruity type and less of the heavy smoky, peaty variety. So it may not give you broad exposure to different types.
Enjoy your trip. The Cairngorms are beautifully scenic. Assuming you’ll be driving through there.
Edit to add link
You might consider a stop at the Speyside Cooperage in Craigellachie. It is a fascinating place.
We hit four distilleries, and I pretty much disliked the whisky at them all (just dont like it), but it was great fun because our traveling companions are really into it. We did Dalwhinnie, which is in your stated area, as well as Cardhu.
We also hit Highland Park and Talisker, though those are nowhere near your area. Talisker was my favourite of the four, though that may have been because they had us sip it with our mouths coated in melting chocolate truffle.
The Whiski Rooms in Edinburgh has group tastings that you can join, and I enjoyed it. No pressure to buy or eat there but you might have to email them ahead of time. If you want something more personal then contact The Pot Still in Glasgow. They ask for a weeks notice but could maybe set something up for you. I got a personal tasting based on what I told them I do like (I’m not a whisky drinker) and the guy spent over an hour with me talking whisky. It was great and he found a couple that I liked! Or if you can’t do the tasting, pop in for a drink. If they aren’t too busy they may be able to pick something out for you to try.
FYI, i just booked a private tour to Stirling, distillery, etc., for the end of July. MANY tour operators appear booked. You're forewarned.
I was traveling with a college friend from Kentucky who is a bourbon expert and she really enjoyed the Glenkinchie Distillery tour we did with Black Cab Tours in April. Glenkinchie is Johnny Walker. Beautiful Distillery and setting with an excellent tour, especially the historical aspects. Great tasting experience at the end. You can book the tour directly and do not have to be part of an organized company like Black Cab Tours (although I highly recommend that tour company).
Golden Girl, thanks for the lesson. Love little facts like that. The only tip I know is sit in a low chair while tasting.