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Buying Whisky in Scotland

Anyone have tips on buying whisky in Scotland (single malts)? We're planning on stopping by a few distilleries, but from what I've been reading on the boards, the bottles in the shop aren't priced well. Not sure if they will have unique distillations we couldn't find in any shop. We'll be on Skye, in Pitlochry and Edinburgh -- should we wait to buy bottles in one of those places?

Posted by
1834 posts

You won't save money by buying whisky in Scotland. Its taxed to high heaven. The only reason to do so is to get a bottle there that you can't get here. I did that until the TSA wouldn't let us carry on that much liquid. The Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre is on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, towards the upper end. Its a good place to go in and drool, have a bite in the cafe, and maybe a dram. There are private liquor stores in Scotland where you might save a few cents over the cost of a bottle at the distillery, but again you won't be saving much, if any, over U.S. prices. You should visit a few distilleries and have a dram there.

Posted by
5669 posts

Yes, Monte is right no deal on the pricing. But you can get whisky that you cannot easily get in the US. That's what you need to look for.

Posted by
392 posts

We were in Edinburgh and Pitlochry, and my husband, who is a spirits connoisseur, opted to buy at two places: Edradour distillery in Pitlochry and Cadenhead's shop on the Royal Mile. Both were things you can't get at home. Edradour doesn't export to the US as far as I can tell since they have a very small outputit's all single malt, none of it goes into blends. And Cadenhead's buys casks from distilleries that usually blend and makes them into single malts you can't get anywhere else. They also give you a lengthy spiel on what they do if you ask. Hope that helps!

Posted by
3428 posts

My favorite distillery (and one of my favorite single malts) is Dalwhinnie. I really enjoyed their tour and their Scotch is lovely. It is the highest distillery in Scotland and in late summer the heather blooms on the moors and the pollen gets into the whisky! Adds a nice, light flora note. I think we paid about 10 or 15 GBP for the tour and got to sample some of their 'brews'. My absolute favorite Scotch is Belvinie 12 year Double Wood. (http://us.thebalvenie.com/) We haven't toured their distillery (yet). It is a Speyside scotch (like Dalwhinnie). They tend to be lighter, have a slight (but not heavy) peat and smoke note, with strong hints of honey, heather, light fruits/berries, nuts and sometimes hints of things like sherry or port(the 12 year double wood is aged first in oak casks, then moved to old sherry casks). We also toured the Strathisla distillery. They do a limited single malt, as much of what they make goes into the blend for Chavis Regal. Their distillery is beautiful, and the tour good. You get a dram of Chavis at the end of the tour. After a barman did an educational tasting for us, I found I don't like the Islay, Orkney or other coastal whiskies as much. They tend to be heavily peated, and have over tones of salt, smoke, fish, and heavier fruits. If you can arrange or join a tasting where you get to sample several whiskies from different regions, you will probably find it helpful in determining what to buy. Any decent Scottish pubman or a really good clerk at a fine whisky shop can help arrange one for you. My husband's favorite blended whisky is known as Pinch in the US and Dimple in Scotland. I am not really a fan of blended Scotch.

Posted by
180 posts

For my partner, a single-maltophile, Cadenhead in Edinburgh was a high point. He wanted a bottle of whisky he couldn't get in the states. Angus at Cadenhead was fascinating, shared a lot of info and helped T narrow down what he wanted via talk and wee drams. After two hours, T had 2 bottles of whisky to bring home that made his heart sing...his mouth as well. Just a great experience! He did do tastings at other places, including whisky bars in Edinburgh, but nothing came close to Cadenhead. It's on the Royal Mile, down towards Holyrood and quite near Canongate Kirk, which is just amazing, and across from a great print shop. A little further down is Clarinda's Tea Shop where I did steer T after he bought the whisky, looking for some food to soak up some of those wee drams before we went on to Holyrood.

Posted by
392 posts

We went to Clarinda's the day we went to Holyrood and Cadenhead, too! It was delightful. All three are the perfect way to spend a half day.