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Explore the unforgettable scotch whisky trail in Scotland | Travel


If it is Scotch, it has to be from Scotland, the land known for whisky. Annually, over 1.6 billion bottles of Scotch Whisky are shipped from Scotland to around 180 markets around the world. Laid end to end those bottles would stretch about 467,000 kms – that’s more than 11 times around the Earth.

There are nearly 150 active whisky distilleries spread across Scotland, which are split into five whisky-producing regions: Campbeltown, Highland, Islay, Lowland and Speyside.(Scotch Whisky Association)
There are nearly 150 active whisky distilleries spread across Scotland, which are split into five whisky-producing regions: Campbeltown, Highland, Islay, Lowland and Speyside.(Scotch Whisky Association)

Drop the e when you talk of Scotch. For, whisky in Scotland is never spelt whiskey. Malt whisky is the ‘original’ whisky of Scotland and made only from malted barley, in two (occasionally, three) copper pot stills, by a batch process. Currently, there are 148 operating Scotch Whisky distilleries across the country and some 22 million casks lie maturing in warehouses waiting to be discovered – that is around 12 billion 70cL (centilitre) bottles. (Also read: Meet the new crop of India’s single malt whisky makers)

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Here’s all you ever wanted to know about a Scotch Whisky trail in Scotland.

Whisky Regions in Scotland: There are nearly 150 active whisky distilleries spread across Scotland, which are split into five whisky-producing regions: Campbeltown, Highland, Islay, Lowland and Speyside. (Also read: Explore the finest wine experiences in France’s Bordeaux)

Islay: Barely 25 miles long and 15 miles wide, Islay is regarded by many as ‘whisky island’.

Number of distilleries: 9

Oldest distillery: Bowmore (1779)

Most popular distillery: Ardbeg

Campbeltown: Scotland’s smallest whisky producing region.

Number of distilleries: 3

Oldest distillery: Springbank (1828)

Most popular distillery: Springbank

Speyside: Speyside is whisky heaven and accounts for half of Scotland’s whisky production.

Number of distilleries: 52

Oldest distillery: Strathisla (1786)

Most popular distillery: Glenfiddich

Lowlands: The area has long, historic associations with whisky, with Friar John Cor producing whisky here in 1494 for King James IV.

Number of distilleries: 22 (+6 grain distilleries)

Oldest distillery: Bladnoch (1817)

Most popular distillery: Glenkinchie

Highlands: The distilleries of the Highland whisky region are spread far and wide and, in terms of geography, this whisky region takes the crown as Scotland’s largest.

Number of distilleries: 50+

Oldest Distillery: Glenturret Distillery (Scotland’s oldest working distillery)

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Best Whisky Bars of Scotland:

The first whisky bar in Inverness, it is a firm favourite amongst Inverness whisky lovers(themaltroom.co.uk)
The first whisky bar in Inverness, it is a firm favourite amongst Inverness whisky lovers(themaltroom.co.uk)

1. The Malt Room (Inverness): The first whisky bar in Inverness, it is a firm favourite amongst Inverness whisky lovers, tourists wanting to sample a few local drams and anyone who appreciates a well-served drink.

2. The Curly Coo (Stirling): Just a short walk from the city centre, choose from over 120 Malt Whiskies at Stirling’s only Whisky Bar. There’s also Scottish craft beers, a selection of Scottish Gins and more…..

3. The Ardshiel Hotel (Campbeltown): With over 700 malts to choose from many which are rare and exclusive, it has been the winner of Wee Dram Whisky Bar of the Year and Scottish Field Whisky Bar of the Year.

4. Usquabae (Edinburgh): Inspired by Robert Burns’ poem, Tam O’ Shanter, Usquabae firmly believes that the pursuit of drinking whisky is a saintly and noble quest. Burns himself claimed that should you meet the devil, you’ll only survive if you’re fortified with usquabae (the former name of whisky).

5. The Whiski Bar (Edinburgh): Whiski Bar & Restaurant is a stunning multi award-winning whisky bar and Scottish restaurant on the Royal Mile. Has over 300 Scotch malt whiskies and a great selection of cocktails, a fantastic whisky selection, wines and local craft beers, and live Scottish music.

A small single-roomed selectively lit bar, has an extensive range of malt whiskies.(Facebook/The Black Cat)
A small single-roomed selectively lit bar, has an extensive range of malt whiskies.(Facebook/The Black Cat)

6. The Black Cat (Edinburgh): A small single-roomed selectively lit bar, has an extensive range of malt whiskies.

7. The Mash Tun (Aberlour): Surrounded by the most famous of distilleries viewed as the ultimate trip for the lover of the Uisge Beatha (water of life)

8. The Pot Still (Glasgow): With over 800 whiskies, cracking cask ales, proper pies, The Pot Still is the place for malt whisky in Glasgow.

9. Bon Accord (Glasgow): What began as a pub specialising in real ale and pub grub, it has grown into a specialist whisky bar, even winning the UK Whisky Bar of the Year.

10. CASC (Aberdeen): Focusses on premium cigars, craft beer, scotch whisky and artisan coffee. Has over 500 Scotch and world whiskies.

Best Whisky Tours:

• Malt Whisky & Scottish Wildlife Tour: 9 days. £1,200 per adult. April to October

• Bubble Tour: On a Whisky Trail. 1 day. £55 per adult.

• Speyside Whiskys Tour: 3 days.

• Highland Perthshire Whisky Tour: 1 day.

• Private Whisky Tour of Islay: 1 day

• Speyside Whiskys Tour: 1 day. £83 per adult

• Tour the Scotch Whisky Route: 4 days. £770 per adult

• Edinburgh’s New Town Whisky Tour: 2 hours. £60 per adult

• Whisky Prestige Blenders Tour: 2 days. £185 per adult

Best Whisky Hotels in Scotland:

11. Isle of Raasay Distillery Whisky Hotel: One of the few places in the world where you can snooze where the whisky is made, Isle of Raasay Distillery Whisky Hotel has been the winner of Scottish Whisky Distillery of the Year and Tourism Destination of the Year in the 2022 Scottish Whisky Awards.

12. Glenmorangie House, Scottish Highlands: Barely 20 minutes from the Glenmorangie Distillery, this is part of the modern makeover of The Glenmorangie Company by Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH).

The Craigellachie Hotel: This is the best location to explore whisky in the Speyside region.(The Craigellachie Hotel)
The Craigellachie Hotel: This is the best location to explore whisky in the Speyside region.(The Craigellachie Hotel)

13. The Craigellachie Hotel: Built in 1800s, this is the best location to explore whisky in the Speyside region. Its Quaich Bar has over 700 malts in its collection.

14.The Ardshiel Hotel: Originally built in 1877, this is one of the favourites for whisky lovers. The hotel’s Usquebaugh Bar and Lounge has over 200 malt whiskies including a selection of Springbank, Cadenhead, and Islay malts.

15. Dornoch Castle Hotel: Currently listed as Whiskybase.com’s Number One International Whisky Hotel, this one has one of the best collections of vintage and rare whiskies.

Malt Whisky Trail: Set in the heart of stunning Speyside, Scotland’s Malt Whisky Trail is the only trail of its kind in the world. It takes in seven world-famous working distilleries, one historic distillery and the fascinating Speyside Cooperage.

Robert Burns Birthplace Museum (Alloway, 40 minutes from Glasgow): This is a must-see for all poetry lovers. Robert Burns (1759-1796) was the National Poet of Scotland. Visit the humble cottage where Robert Burns was born and spent the first years of his life. The two main sites (Burns Cottage and the museum) are connected by the Poet’s Path, a 500-metre pedestrian walkway.



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