Join us on a whisky tasting tour in the heart of Speyside, home to some of the most famous single malts in the world. The tour will appeal both to whisky connoisseurs and those who are just getting to know the manifold delights of the ‘water of life’.
Heading north into the Cairngorms we visit Dalwhinnie Distillery, not far from the headwaters of the great river that gives its name to this wondrous part of Scotland.
Over the next two we days we criss-cross the Spey valley with tours and tastings at Cardhu, Glenlivet and Strathisla, as well visits to the Speyside Cooperage, where we watch the highly skilled coopers at work; Ballindalloch Castle with its magnificent grounds and a nostalgic trip on the Dufftown to Keith heritage railway.
Heading home, we call in at the premium retail outlet The House of Bruar for a chance to stock up on the very best of Scottish produce, followed by some free time in Pitlochry, a further chance to stock up on whisky and other goodies.
Speyside’s Whisky Trail Tour Highlights
- Blind tasting at Cardhu Distillery
- Rolling out the barrels at the Speyside Cooperage
- Nostalgic train ride of the Keith and Dufftown Railway
- Whisky and chocolates at Dalwhinnie
- The grand gardens at Ballindalloch Castle
- Return coach travel from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dunfermline, Kinross & Perth*
- 3 nights’ hotel accommodation with dinner, bed and breakfast – staying at the Craiglynne Hotel
- Services of a professional tour manager
Single supplements apply – £90. Offer is subject to availability.
*Subject to minimum numbers, the following pick-ups will be served by feeder coach or taxi and passengers will join/leave the main coach in Perth: Dundee
Speyside’s Whisky Trail Tour Itinerary
We depart by coach from our local departure points and travel north for our visit to Dalwhinnie Distillery, set high in the hills (1164ft above sea level) not far from the source of the Spey.
The site of the distillery was chosen for its access to clear spring water and abundant peat from the surrounding bogs. The famous Highland Single Malt Whisky is renowned for its gentle flavours accentuated with notes of heather honey, citrus, vanilla and sweet malt. Our tour includes tastings of two single malts together with some specially selected chocolate which combines beautifully with the whisky.
We then continue to our hotel in Speyside.
Following breakfast we set out on the first of two full days in Speyside, arguably the heart and soul of the Scottish whisky industry.
Our first visit is to Cardhu Distillery where the customary tour of the distillery is followed by a chance to demonstrate your whisky tasting skills and participate in a nosing and tasting of three whiskies.
To add to the experience you will be provided with a scorecard to smell and taste the whiskies blind (don’t worry, you won’t actually be blindfolded!). The winner who guesses all three whiskies correctly will win bragging rights and be added to the hall of fame. You will also receive a complimentary Cardhu dram glass.
We continue to Ballindalloch Castle and Gardens. Home of the Macpherson-Grants since 1546, the castle is filled with their family memorabilia and set in magnificent grounds between the Spey and the Avon. The superb rock garden, with its tumbling spring water, was laid out in 1937; the walled garden was redesigned to celebrate the 450th anniversary of the castle in 1996.
We conclude today with a visit to the home one of the great names of Speyside whisky, The Glenlivet, at its remote location in Strath Avon. We will learn how the founder, George Smith, established the first licensed distillery in the parish of Glenlivet and defended it from smugglers, see the unique lantern stills that help shape the spirit’s flavour and taste the single malt straight from the cask.
This morning, after breakfast, we discover the secrets behind one of the key components of whisky production as we visit the Speyside Cooperage.
Since 1947 the cooperage has produced the finest casks from the best American oak, using traditional methods and tools. Each year it produces and repairs nearly 150,000 casks used by distilleries in Speyside and throughout the world. Our tour takes us through the life cycle of the cask, before watching the highly skilled coopers at work.
In days gone by whisky was transported by rail from Speyside and we will enjoy as taste of these days as we take a ride on the heritage railway line from Dufftown to Keith.
They used to say “Rome was built on seven hills; Dufftown was built on seven stills” and at one time the rail traffic in and out of Dufftown would have been considerable. The line between Keith and Elgin closed under the Beeching cuts but the Keith and Dufftown Railway operates an 11 mile stretch of track using DMUs dating from the late 1950s.
On arrival in Keith there will be an opportunity for lunch (not included) before we visit the nearby Strathisla Distillery, the oldest operating distillery in the Highlands and the home of ‘Chivas Regal’. The tour includes a tasting of four whiskies and reveals the intricate relationship between the single malt and the world famous Chivas Regal blends.
After breakfast we check out of our hotel and head south, stopping first for a visit to The House of Bruar, a premium quality retail outlet specialising in traditional country clothing, local Scottish produce such as smoked salmon, game and cheeses and, of course, a good selection of malt whiskies.
A few miles further south lies the bustling town of Pitlochry where we will have some free time for shopping or refreshments. Later we continue our journey home, with arrival at original departure points due in the evening.