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Best distillery experiences - Speyside/highland

Bart&Claudia
Member Senior Senior Member
Posted on 24-06-2019 at 18:07 pm

Whisky friends,


I'm planning a trip with our whisky club up to Speyside, probably between the 2nd and 9th of May, 2020.
There are so many recommendations out there for so many distilleries, that it has become a difficult task to really find the ones that stand out. The rough plan is to make a tour from Glasgow, up to Speyside and back down via the coast to Edinburgh in about 5 days.  

My shortlist right now would be Glengoyne, Edradour, Aberlour, Glenfarclas, Glenlivet, Glen Garioch, and Glencadam. I'm looking for a maximum of two distillery tours, and mainly interested in 'warehouse tastings' for the others.   


Where would you go? Where wouldn't you go?

lincolnimp
Connoisseur Connoisseur
Posted on 24-06-2019 at 18:22 pm

Glengoyne, because you can save a dram to have overlooking the shores of Loch Lomond, I also think Edradour and Glenfarclas are also worth a punt, the bar at Edradour has some nice drams in it.

I would also consider, Cragganmore and perhaps Cardhu, both of them are close to Glenfarclas.

If you are starting in Glasgow how about taking in Auchentoshan before you go up to Glengoyne?

  Edited on 24-06-2019 at 18:23 pm
Slàinte Mhath
Administrator Administrator
Posted on 24-06-2019 at 18:41 pm

If you are starting in Glasgow how about taking in Auchentoshan before you go up to Glengoyne?


I'd second that - the tour at Auchentoshan is great and the distillery-only bottlings are usually decent.

“There is no such thing as bad whisky. Some whiskies just happen to be better than others.” (W. Faulkner)
karloff
Specialist Specialist
Posted on 24-06-2019 at 18:53 pm

That is a good shout from Lincolnimp. Two great distilleries and tours. I just got back from Speyside yesterday and I managed to visit 28 distilleries in 3 days. I would highly recommend Glenlivet tour. I am not a fan of their whisky but the distillery is impressive. Also it is in the most stunning part of Speyside and near by are Allt-A-Bhainne, Tamnavulin, Tomintoul and Braeval, all worth checking out. From there you can travel back to Edinburgh via Perth and you will see some breathtaking scenery. 

  Edited on 24-06-2019 at 18:55 pm
I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy. Tom Waits
z-imaging
Connoisseur Connoisseur
Posted on 24-06-2019 at 19:18 pm

No tour in Glencadam unless you make some callshappy

Bart&Claudia
Member Senior Senior Member
Posted on 24-06-2019 at 22:05 pm

If you are starting in Glasgow how about taking in Auchentoshan before you go up to Glengoyne?


I'd second that - the tour at Auchentoshan is great and the distillery-only bottlings are usually decent.


I have yet to find an Auchentoshan I like! 

Bart&Claudia
Member Senior Senior Member
Posted on 24-06-2019 at 22:05 pm

No tour in Glencadam unless you make some callshappy


Thanks! 

Bart&Claudia
Member Senior Senior Member
Posted on 24-06-2019 at 22:05 pm

karloff wrote:

That is a good shout from Lincolnimp. Two great distilleries and tours. I just got back from Speyside yesterday and I managed to visit 28 distilleries in 3 days. I would highly recommend Glenlivet tour. I am not a fan of their whisky but the distillery is impressive. Also it is in the most stunning part of Speyside and near by are Allt-A-Bhainne, Tamnavulin, Tomintoul and Braeval, all worth checking out. From there you can travel back to Edinburgh via Perth and you will see some breathtaking scenery. 

28?! Holy crap. Which were your best experiences? 


  Edited on 24-06-2019 at 22:06 pm
peatbogger
Specialist Specialist
Posted on 24-06-2019 at 22:41 pm

If you are considering Edradour I would also recommend Blair Athol.

Less than 5 minutes between.

Had an amazing tour and tasting there. If you go for the more exclusive tour you will probably be able to make it a private group tour. And the tasting afterwards included samples from casks in the tasting room. None of these "fake" refillable steel lined casks I've seen lately at distilleries.

At the time I visited the casks were a 23YO sherry and a 30YO bourbon.

Proper casks, the sherry was running low so we got charred wood in the glass happy

It's known as one of the most well kept and beautiful distilleries, and I agree.

And their visitor center bar is made out of the old wash back from Clynelish.

lincolnimp
Connoisseur Connoisseur
Posted on 24-06-2019 at 23:07 pm

If you are starting in Glasgow how about taking in Auchentoshan before you go up to Glengoyne?


I'd second that - the tour at Auchentoshan is great and the distillery-only bottlings are usually decent.


I have yet to find an Auchentoshan I like! 


I do not really like Edradour either but I really like the distillery and recommend a visit as it is  picturesque

Bart&Claudia
Member Senior Senior Member
Posted on 24-06-2019 at 23:15 pm

lincolnimp wrote:

Bart&Claudia wrote:

Slàinte Mhath wrote:

lincolnimp wrote:

If you are starting in Glasgow how about taking in Auchentoshan before you go up to Glengoyne?


I'd second that - the tour at Auchentoshan is great and the distillery-only bottlings are usually decent.


I have yet to find an Auchentoshan I like! 


I do not really like Edradour either but I really like the distillery and recommend a visit as it is  picturesque

Agreed there happy Cool! 


Bart&Claudia
Member Senior Senior Member
Posted on 24-06-2019 at 23:16 pm

If you are considering Edradour I would also recommend Blair Athol.

Less than 5 minutes between.

Had an amazing tour and tasting there. If you go for the more exclusive tour you will probably be able to make it a private group tour. And the tasting afterwards included samples from casks in the tasting room. None of these "fake" refillable steel lined casks I've seen lately at distilleries.

At the time I visited the casks were a 23YO sherry and a 30YO bourbon.

Proper casks, the sherry was running low so we got charred wood in the glass happy

It's known as one of the most well kept and beautiful distilleries, and I agree.

And their visitor center bar is made out of the old wash back from Clynelish.


Great advice, for me the warehouse tastings are the main event. 

morgbug
Member Senior Senior Member
Posted on 25-06-2019 at 03:47 am

Looks like we'll miss each other by a couple of days.  I'm planning on being in Scotland with my wife and daughter from late April into early May, but only about 10 days total.  Neither of them are whisky drinkers so in our travel plans I've fit in a few distillery tours but not nearly as many as I'd like.  


We'll be landing in Aberdeen and heading out to Glendronach and Cragganmore on our way to Inverness.  We'll be on Skye for a couple of days so I should be able to drag them to Talisker.  Oban is also part of the plan and from there through Loch Lomond National Park to Stirling and on to Edinburgh.  Beyond that it will be limited by time.  


I too would be happy to take suggestions.  

karloff
Specialist Specialist
Posted on 25-06-2019 at 17:49 pm

karloff wrote:

That is a good shout from Lincolnimp. Two great distilleries and tours. I just got back from Speyside yesterday and I managed to visit 28 distilleries in 3 days. I would highly recommend Glenlivet tour. I am not a fan of their whisky but the distillery is impressive. Also it is in the most stunning part of Speyside and near by are Allt-A-Bhainne, Tamnavulin, Tomintoul and Braeval, all worth checking out. From there you can travel back to Edinburgh via Perth and you will see some breathtaking scenery. 

28?! Holy crap. Which were your best experiences? 


The above was my best experience because I am an outdoors man, I love the hills and the mountains, this area brings the two worlds together perfectly. Once you leave Glenlivet for Tomintoul distillery and town, which is also lovely, you are on the B9008 which gets you on the A939. This takes you through the Cairngorms and you come on to the A93, this will take you all the way to Perth. 
Also between Perth and Edinburgh, just a little diversion is Daftmill, if you send the bloke an email and let him know when you are passing, you might be lucky and he will show you around if he is not busy. 

  Edited on 25-06-2019 at 17:55 pm
I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy. Tom Waits
blackcipher
Member Junior Junior Member
Posted on 05-07-2019 at 01:00 am

The blending experience at strathisla distillery is excellent. Well worth a trip.

Cask1988
Expert Senior Senior Expert
Posted on 10-07-2019 at 16:06 pm

Choose for extended tours mainly. Standard tours are quite boring after you did one. Mostly it's not much more then run through the distillery with a big group of people and hear the standard jibberjabber you hear everywhere.

I've visited 39 distilleries so far and my best experiences in the Speyside where:

Glenlivet. It has a great extended tour which I did in 2014. It's called the Definitive spirit tour nowadays I believe. Here you will be able to draw a sample straight from the cask (at least back then it was part of it). Sign up for the guardians of the Glenlivet and you will be able to enjoy a complimentary dram in the Guardians Tasting Room after your tour.

Furthermore Glenfarclas: It's pleasant to feel a real family atmosphere in quite a big distillery. Standard tour is good, extended is better. Afterwards there plenty to taste.

Benromach is also fun to see because of the small size. The only distillery where, Mashing, Fermentation and Distilling take place in 1 space.

Edradour is way too touristic imho. Blair Athol is also worth a visit. It's quite a picturesque distillery. Photogenic if you'd like.

Glendronach is not worth your time. It's very, very simple and also too commercial. They make great whisky but the mood onsite is soulless and they don't have a clue about how to do tours.

Also Aberlour and Cardhu are not that interesting to visit. Cardhu is very commercially driven, Aberlour just doesn't nail it with their tour.

 Balvenie can be very interesting for you if you'd like to see a working malt floor for instance. Glenfiddich is next to it, you could make a combination out of it.

At Glengoyne I would Highly recommend the Malt masters tour. I know it's a little expensive but worth every penny. If you have the chance, ask for Arthur to guide you around. He is great. Firstly you will have an extended (private mostly) tour, and after that you'll be getting a master blending class in the tastingroom where you will create your own Glengoyne expression out of 5 different straight from the cask samples.First you will taste every sample a part before start blending. Excellent experience.

Strathisla is perfect for a warehouse tasting.

Also a great tip is to ask for a quick peek in the stillhouse when you are at a distillery. That way you don't have to do full tours everywhere but you still can see where the magic happens and ask your most burning questions. It works great and most of the time it's no problem for them and also free of charge.

And now for the best part:

You really should do the Dufftown walking tour with Michelle!! This is a guided walk through all the Dufftown distillery. Michelle has a backpack with her so at every distillery you will get 1 or two whiskies from that distillery. http://www.speysidetours.co.uk/dufftown-distilleries-walk.php You don't want to miss this. It also gives you de opportunity to see inside closed distilleries since Michelle has been permitted acces to several distilleries that are normally closed for public. I did the Connoisseurs tour and I don't regret it. Hell I'd even do it again when I'm return to Dufftown.


And last but not least:

Go to the Speyside Cooperage. This is a really fun experience in between all those whisky tours you will be doing. It is interesting to see how they make and refurbish casks. You can see every step of the process and ask questions to the guide that sticks with you. Those coopers work like beasts overthere. https://www.speysidecooperage.co.uk/

  Edited on 10-07-2019 at 16:09 pm
WhiskyLovingPianist
Connoisseur Connoisseur
Posted on 17-07-2019 at 00:14 am

Cask1988 wrote:

Benromach is also fun to see because of the small size. The only distillery where, Mashing, Fermentation and Distilling take place in 1 space.


Other 'all in one' distilleries that you can tour include:

Annandale, Cotswolds, Glengyle, Lakes distillery, Yorkshire,.... Wolfburn is the only distillery in this list in the Highlands that I can recall at this moment.

Ballindalloch [Speyside], Daftmill and Dornoch [Highlands] require personal contact but are well worth the effort.

  Edited on 17-07-2019 at 00:19 am
texfriwhisky
Member Junior Junior Member
Posted on 27-07-2019 at 00:36 am

Call  The Glenfiddich and The Balvenie in  Dufftown  ask for a tour with Ian Millar he speaks fluent Dutch,  Tasty whisky's, fun and humorous story and very educational too

morgbug
Member Senior Senior Member
Posted on 07-08-2019 at 03:06 am

Question regarding Glendronach in particular: Is it worth stopping at the shop?  I can quite happily just takes some pics and pick up a distillery bottling if it's available and forgo the tour.  We'll be driving out of Aberdeen to Inverness so it seems somewhat along the path.  We'll also detour down through Speyside into Cairngorms National Park so I can hit a couple of other distilleries on that path. I'm guessing Glenfarclas will top that list.  But that Dufftown walking tour might be just the ticket.  


We'll likely hit Talisker, Oban and Deanston as well.  

Onislay
Member Senior Senior Member
Posted on 08-08-2019 at 21:49 pm

Have booked a tasting at G&M for end of August, so curious what we are gonna get. But they say they got some brilliant whiskies waiting for us happy. Plus booked the glenfarclas 5 decades, have done it 5yrs ago and it was absolutely marvelous! Highly recommended. And looking forward to Glenallachie, keen to see how billies new project has evolved. And thanks for pointing out the dufftown walking tour cask1988, also booked!

Cask1988
Expert Senior Senior Expert
Posted on 19-08-2019 at 20:29 pm
morgbug wrote:

Question regarding Glendronach in particular: Is it worth stopping at the shop?  I can quite happily just takes some pics and pick up a distillery bottling if it's available and forgo the tour.  We'll be driving out of Aberdeen to Inverness so it seems somewhat along the path.  We'll also detour down through Speyside into Cairngorms National Park so I can hit a couple of other distilleries on that path. I'm guessing Glenfarclas will top that list.  But that Dufftown walking tour might be just the ticket.  


We'll likely hit Talisker, Oban and Deanston as well.  


Glendronach is the place to SKIP I’d say. Very commercial and poor shop experience. It’s very small, not very interesting and the ontly distillery bottle you will be able to buy is a single cask you can fill by yourself, which will cost you a stunning £230.. not really what I’d call an added value..

Cask1988
Expert Senior Senior Expert
Posted on 19-08-2019 at 20:34 pm
Onislay wrote:

And thanks for pointing out the dufftown walking tour cask1988, also booked!


My pleasure! You will have great fun with Michelle. Great walk, great whiskies. And she knows a lot about Dufftowns history. Buy yourself a good pair of shoes...!

morgbug
Member Senior Senior Member
Posted on 31-08-2019 at 04:49 am

Cask1988 wrote:

morgbug wrote:

Question regarding Glendronach in particular: Is it worth stopping at the shop?  I can quite happily just takes some pics and pick up a distillery bottling if it's available and forgo the tour.  We'll be driving out of Aberdeen to Inverness so it seems somewhat along the path.  We'll also detour down through Speyside into Cairngorms National Park so I can hit a couple of other distilleries on that path. I'm guessing Glenfarclas will top that list.  But that Dufftown walking tour might be just the ticket.  


We'll likely hit Talisker, Oban and Deanston as well.  


Glendronach is the place to SKIP I’d say. Very commercial and poor shop experience. It’s very small, not very interesting and the ontly distillery bottle you will be able to buy is a single cask you can fill by yourself, which will cost you a stunning £230.. not really what I’d call an added value..

Thank you kindly for the reply.  Looks like our plans are changing as we'll now be flying into Glasgow instead of Aberdeen.  That means we won't be heading north of Dufftown or over to Aberdeen at all and Glendronach will head out.  Very much appreciate you posting the price of the single cask.  I wouldn't have bought one at that price so it's now an easy pass with the additional information.  


Oban and Talisker are still on the list.  Walking tour if at all possible, else will hit a few distilleries to check out the shops but am now considering Glenallachie as a possible tour destination.  Chasing Billy Walker through the countryside as it were.  As I understand it you have to call ahead to arrange so hopefully that will work out.  


Deanston is still on the list as well.  Don't have their whisky locally but the proximity to Doune Castle seals that deal. 


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