According to the latest figures, over 1.9 million people flocked to visit over 40 Scotch whisky distilleries open to visitors in 2017. And there’s more to come, as both new and established distilleries welcome whisky lovers with larger venues, new experiences, and greater access. Peak months are June to August, so make sure you leave enough time to check out the latest visitor experiences on your whisky vacation itinerary.
Best Insider Tour
Bowmore Vaults Secrets Tasting Tour
Behind-the-scenes access to Bowmore Distillery, including the traditional floor maltings and a peek inside the thick-walled vaults that protect the casks from the waves. Enter the Vaults Secrets tasting cellar for a cask tasting and leave with a precious Bowmore 100 ml cask sample in your back pocket. £70/$100
Best Romantic Stay
Luxury Overnight Stay at Isle of Raasay Distillery
Be among the first wave of visitors to experience Scotland’s newest island distillery, on the Isle of Raasay between the mainland and the Isle of Skye in the Inner Hebrides. You can opt to stay the night in the finely appointed villa situated adjacent to the distillery, complete with a well-stocked private lounge. Choose your view of the Cuillin Mountains on the Isle of Skye or the working distillery yard. £250/$350
Best Luxury Drams
Blair Athol Distillery Platinum Tour
Whisky behemoth Diageo’s most-visited distillery, located near Pitlochry in Perthshire, recently unveiled a new whisky tasting bar created from an actual mash tun. Their top-shelf tour includes a tutored tasting of your choice of six fine whiskies drawn from a range including the Diageo Special Releases. Rarities like Port Ellen 37 year old or Lagavulin 37 year old are available for an additional charge. £165/$230
Best for Design Buffs
The New Macallan Distillery
Scheduled to open in June at Easter Elchies in Speyside, Macallan’s new home, costing in excess of $140 million, will boast world-class visitor facilities, enabling guests to view the dozens of new copper stills arranged in a circular, modular format.
Best for Aspiring Mixologists
The Apothecary Tour, Lindores Abbey Distillery
Built on the grounds of the 12th century Lindores Abbey, a visit to this Lowland distillery, claiming the earliest written record of the production of whisky in 1494, is like a pilgrimage to the spiritual home of Scotch whisky. On this tour, guests can dabble with herbs and spices to create their own aqua vitae to take home. £75/$105
Best Way to Spend an Hour
Core Range Tasting Tour, Lagavulin Distillery
For the time-pressed, seasoned Islay distillery traveler, cram a whistle-stop tour of the production areas and a tasting of three peaty Lagavulin expressions into 60 minutes. £15/$21
Best for City Dwellers
Queen’s Dock Tour, Clydeside Distillery
Learn how urban distilling is revitalizing Glasgow’s dockside area, meet the people producing the Clydeside spirit, and enjoy an in-depth tasting in the Blender’s Room overlooking the stills and the River Clyde with this bespoke tour for up to six people. Tour prices begin at £15/$21
Best View from a Still
With awe-inspiring views over to the Isle of Jura, Islay’s second new distillery of the 21st century opens to visitors this summer. As distilling begins under Ardnahoe’s master distiller Jim McEwan, formerly of Bowmore and Bruichladdich, this family-owned distillery is offering select bottlings from their parent company Hunter Laing.