The Scottish Malt Whisky Trail
by Michael Wade
The Scottish Malt Whisky Trail
Within the highlands of Scotland you'll find Strathspey, or as it's commonly known by the English speaker as Speyside is the heart of the Scottish whisky industry. This region is home to over half of the countries distilleries, so it's no wonder that you'll find the famous malt whisky trail here. If you’re interested in sightseeing, a whisky enthusiast or it's your first visit to Scotland, then driving this trail would make the perfect day out.
The trail has 9 sites altogether, 7 working distilleries, the historic distillery of Dallas Dhu and the only operational cooperage in the UK, Speyside Cooperage. You can see how today's whiskies are produced, each following their own traditions to give individual unique tastes. A visit to Dalla Dhu will allow you to experience how 'the water of life' used to be made along with age old methods during the 19th century. Complete your whisky trail with a visit to the Speyside Cooperage, and experience the fine art of cask making with aged techniques and processes.
Each site on the trail has individual opening hours, tour times and entry prices. Prices will vary depending on the kind of tour you select, and tour times will be anywhere from half and hour to 2 hours long. A selection of sites offer a single price for all people, some have a family ticket option like the Cooperage, while Glenfiddich and the Glenlivet are free to enter. You'll also have the opportunity to try your hand at tasting some of the produce, there are also nosing sessions and personalised bottling available for a little extra. Of course you must be over 18 to take advantage of these sessions, it's not all bad for the under aged, as some sites offer them free entry.
The region of Speyside is as many would describe as delightful and picturesque. And with the trail stretching over 78 miles of this beautiful landscape, you'll be able to experience some of the best scenery that Scotland has to offer. If you're coming from overseas with intent to hire a car and wish to try some of the best single malt whiskies around, then the trail is relatively easy to plan. Speyside lies around 4 hours from the north of Edinburgh and is found along the A93. The route is well signposted and would be best taken over the course of a day; ensure you have a dedicated driver as you won't be short of opportunities to enjoy a few drabs of whisky.
The months between May and September are the best to take the great whisky trail. You'll be visiting during the time of the whisky festivals, where you can enjoy an array of different malt whisky activities and tastings. You can enjoy the sites in any order that best suits you and choosing to visit the most appealing ones, however below is our most efficient route for the trail.
A: Dallas Dhu (historic distillery)
Postcode: IV36 2RR
This lovely historic distillery is in the town of Forres and allowed the world to enjoy its unique taste between the years of 1899 and 1983. Adult
tickets cost £5.20 and children costs £2.60 throughout the year. The standard tour takes around half and hour to complete.
Postcode: IV36 3EB
Benromach can be found only 2 miles from Dalla Dhu. The basic tour lasts around 1 hour and costs £3.50 per person; this fee includes a £2.50 voucher, which can be redeemed on any purchases over £25 within the distillery. Benromach also offers a more detailed tour that lasts around 2 hours for £17.50 per person and a Bottle your own unique bottle for £50, including everything from the testing and measuring the of the alcohol to corking.
C: Glen Moray
Postcode: IV30 1YE
The distillery of Glen Moray is situated 12 miles from Benromach on the outskirts of Elgin. The tour takes around 1 and half hours to complete and costs £3 per person.
Postcode: AB55 5BS
Strathisla has been in operation since 1786 and can be found in the lovely town of Keith, and is 18 miles from Glen Moray. Your trip to Strathisla will take you through the town of Fochabers while taking you over the river of Spey. Regular tours are £5 per person, where under 18's can get in for free. There's also the choice on Saturday's for “The Ultimate Chivas Experience” and on Sunday's “Straight From The Cask” tours, these are for adults only and are £25 per person.
E: Glen Grant
Postcode: AB38 7BS
The journey to Glen Grant will take you along the river Spey. The distillery has been around and in operation since 1840 and even has a Victorian garden for its visitors. Under 18's can get in for free, while under 8's won't be able to visit the production areas. Entry prices are £3.50 for adults.
F: Speyside Cooperage
Postcode: AB38 9RS
The only operational cooperage in the UK can be found only 4 miles from Glen Grant. Speyside Cooperage masters the art of cask making and even ships its produce across the world. The cooperage costs £8.50 for a family ticket, £3.30 for adults, and £2.50 for children.
Postcode: AB55 4DH
Your next visit will take you to 3 ½ miles from the cooperage to Glenfiddich, the most acclaimed single malt whisky in the world. It's free to enter, and has the option for a more in depth tour for adults' for only £20 per person. The Connoisseurs' tour will give you the opportunity to taste some of the older Glenfiddich whiskies.
H: The Glenlivet
Postcode: AB37 9DB
The Glenlivet is also free to enter, and offers a more in depth tour for adults at £25 per person. Only 14 miles from Glenfiddich, the Glenlivet will tell you age old tales of illicit stills and whisky smuggling.
Postcode: AB38 7RY
In the town of Cardow you'll find your last stop at the Cardhu distillery. Standard entry prices are £4 per person which accommodates a discount of £3 when you purchase a 70cl bottle of malt. Cardhu also offers a £8 per person tour of “Aroma and Flavours”. Here you can take part in nosing sessions of blended and single malt whiskies.
Prices valid as of 23/04/2010