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10 Awesome Whisky Adventures Around the World

Visit the Old Bushmills Distillery and surf one of Northern Ireland's many beaches.

10 Awesome Whisky Adventures Around the World

May 29, 2019 –––––– Larry Olmsted, , , ,

Deep leather armchairs and quiet sitting rooms have their place, but when summer is in full swing enjoying whisky need not be a strictly sedentary affair. After all, the word whisky famously derives from “water of life,” and the life well-lived should include travel and the great outdoors. Thanks to surging interest in whisky, you can now find it being distilled in scenic spots from Scotland to Montana. Intrepid whisky lovers unite: these thrilling and delicious destinations will unleash your whisky warrior.

Slay the Single Track at Breckenridge Distillery


Colorado's most bicycle-centric town, Breckenridge has more than 100 mountain bike trails plus a technical obstacle mountain bike park and the beginner-friendly Illinois Creek Trail System. The Breckenridge ski resort offers a dozen lift-served trails of its own, and nearby Copper Mountain also has a lift-served trail network. For the less adventurous, the seven-mile paved Blue River Recreation Path is blissfully car-free. There are more than 50 miles of mapped single-track trails just in town, the 500-mile Colorado Trail runs right through Breckenridge, and the three-day Breck Epic, one of the world's top recreational mountain bike races, is held here each August. The town is filled with bike rental shops, gear, and instruction. A top choice is Breck Bike Guides, which offers tours and high-performance rental demos from BMC, Scott, Moots, Rocky Mountain, and Yeti. The Breckenridge Distillery full-time lineup includes six different whiskeys, available at the in-town tasting room, or their distillery with a new restaurant and tours on the outskirts of Breck (free van shuttle from anywhere in town). Celebrity chef David Burke designed the distillery's restaurant menu, which uses whiskey, other spirits, and smoke from charred staves in several dishes. “Liquid chef” Billie Keithley curated an extensive craft cocktail list and the restaurant makes, bottles, and sells their own bitters. The top spot to stay is One Ski Hill Place, with its own movie theater and bowling alley. Biking is spring to fall—in winter Breck is the second most popular ski resort in the nation.

Drink this:The distillery restaurant offers a bourbon flight with samples pulled from different barrels, showcasing specific characteristics of their different expressions, like spice and oak, and guests are assisted in blending their own perfect custom glass.
Pack This:Zoic Ether Bike Shorts, $80—Full-featured shorts for the hardcore bike enthusiast, with details the rest of us will appreciate—like pockets.
Fyxation Leather Bicycle Caddy, $45-70—Grab yourself some of Breck's best brews as you cruise through town. Hangs from any bicycle top tube.


Go rock climbing, spelunking, or whitewater rafting in Bend, Oregon.

Paddle the Rapids at Oregon Spirits Distillers


Whiskey-focused Oregon Spirit Distillers has a very popular tasting experience, and just added a new private party venue, the Barrel Thief Lounge. Both are at its distillery in the happening Maker's District of Bend, one of the most adventure-focused cities in the nation. Bend offers everything from nearby skiing and hiking to rock climbing and spelunking. But the city is especially known for its world-class whitewater rafting on the very convenient Deschutes River. Sun Country Tours offers popular day trips including the Big Eddy, a three-mile sampler of Class I-III rapids that serves up 85 minutes on the water and requires just two hours, including round-trip shuttles from Bend. Both Sun Country and Ouzel Outfitters offer full-day, thirteen-mile trips on the Lower Deschutes, through famed rapids like Boxcar and Oak Springs. Rafting is a summer activity, but in winter Bend has alpine and Nordic skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and dogsledding. A downtown eco-friendly, boutique inn, The Oxford Hotel, is the lodging that fits the soul of Bend.

Drink this:Oregon Spirit Distillers offers three styles of bottled in bond whiskeys as single barrel releases: Oregon Spirit Straight American bourbon, Straight American wheat whiskey, and J. Becher Straight American rye whiskey.
Pack this:Platypus Platypreserve, $10—This flexible container saves space and eliminates broken glass bottles when filled with 750 ml of your favorite whisky or wine.
Croakies Arc System, $14—Back from the 1980s, these sunglass straps will keep your specs secure; redesigned with a minimal stainless steel cable.

Ride Like the Wind at Hood River Distillers


The St. Andrews of windsurfing—Oregon's Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area in Hood River—is famous worldwide as a mecca for windsurfing and kiteboarding. Named for Lewis & Clark's expedition, Camp 1805 is a distillery and restaurant located on the coastal Hood River Waterfront Trail. Within two blocks of the distillery are three premier shops offering rentals and lessons: Cascade Kiteboarding, New Wind Kiteboarding, and Brian's Windsurfing (which also offers kiteboarding lessons and SUP rentals). May-October is prime season, but diehard kiteboarders and windsurfers add wetsuit layers and go year-round. Once you're dry, head to the tasting room and warm up with a bite and some sips. The culinary highlight is smoked meats, from tri-tip to brisket tacos, accompanied by a classic cocktail or tasting flight. If you're still thirsty, the larger and more commercial Hood River Distillers serves up whiskey and other spirits in its tasting room just two blocks away. The grand and historic 1921 mission-style Columbia Gorge Hotel & Spa is just minutes away.

Drink this:McCarthy's Oregon single malt is a seminal craft whiskey that's single distilled in a pot still, then aged in Oregon oak barrels. Beer lovers won't want to miss Double Mountain Hopped whiskey, made using Apollo and Cascade hops.
Pack this:Dragon H20 Sunglasses, $154 and up—Unlike most sunglasses, Dragon's H20 Floatable Collection won't sink if dropped in the water.
Lifeproof FRE Phone Case, $89 for iPhoneX and Galaxy S9 models—Waterproof, submersible, and designed to meet military drop and impact standards.


Cap off a day of skiing with cocktails at High West.

Ski the Powder at High West


Whether you carve on skis or a snowboard, the nation's largest single-mountain ski resort, Park City, is the place to enjoy Utah's famously deep, dry powder. This is where the original High West Distillery, the world's only ski-in/ski-out distillery, sits trailside. High West offers tasting flights, whiskey cocktails, and a shop with Utah-exclusive limited-edition whiskeys. There's also a fantastic restaurant on site—the High West burger blends grass-fed beef and local bison, adds aged gruyère, blue cheese, and caramelized onions on an artisanal bun, with parmesan-dusted fries.You can ski Park City and hit High West on your own, but because the resort is so big (330+ trails), you might consider the Peak to Peak Guide program: group “lessons” that are more like insider's tours with tips thrown in. Or for a real indulgence, the Waldorf Astoria here offers private days on the slopes with Park City local, Olympian, and former World Champion skier Nate Roberts ($3,500 for up to 9). High West is also open in summer, when the resort offers extensive hiking, mountain biking, canopy zip lines, an alpine slide and coaster, gondola and chairlift rides, and a new golf course. Within walking distance of High West is the boutique Washington Schoolhouse Inn, while the Waldorf and other large hotels sit at the base area, in Canyons Village, a few lift rides away.

Drink this:Distillery exclusive whiskeys, like the current limited-run barrel selection, or a Deadwood Blonde cocktail—High West Double Rye, calvados, Cocchi Americano, pear brandy, and apple balsamic vinaigrette.
Pack this:Boost Oxygen Pocket Sized, $8—Portable inhaler of 95% oxygen not only combats shortness of breath at altitude, but also can help a hangover.
California Cowboy High Sierra shirt, $148—Designed especially for après ski, in thermal-lined flannel with opener and reinforced bottle pocket for your beer.

Catch a Lobster at Maine Craft Distilling


Maine is world renowned for its delicious lobsters, shipped to top eateries worldwide, but there's no way to get them fresher than catching them yourself. That's just what you can do aboard the Lucky Catch, a combination sightseeing and lobster boat that takes a handful of passengers out to teach them about lobstering and allows them to pull up their own traps. Departing from the vibrant waterfront in Portland, you'll get a lesson in lobstering and the adjacent Portland Lobster Company restaurant will cook up the catch for you upon your return. Lobstering cruises run May-October (but not Sundays June-August). A short stroll away, Maine Craft Distilling makes whiskey using barley from its Brunswick farm, harvested with help from Gus and Marcus, two old-school draft horses. After 87 years, the historic home of Maine's largest newspaper, The Press Herald, was turned into the journalism-themed Press Hotel; hip, cool, and in the heart of the Old Port.

Drink this:Maine Craft Distilling's Highland-style single malt Fifty Stone whiskey uses only Maine-grown barley that is smoked using a mix of Maine peat and locally harvested seaweed; goes great with lobster.
Pack this:Men's Small Batch L.L.Bean Boots, 8” Suede, $109—Much like small batch whiskey, these colorful versions of the legendary waterproof Maine boot are strictly limited editions.
OXO Good Grips Slim Nut and Seafood Cracker, $13—Ergonomic and rugged, no lobster claw or restaurant model can outmatch this polished zinc cracker.


Pair Maine Craft Distilling's Fifty Stone single malt with the local catch of the day.

Drop in at Old Bushmills Distillery


Claiming to be the oldest licensed distillery in the world, Northern Ireland's Old Bushmills Distillery lures whiskey lovers with world-class tours and tasting experiences. What's far more surprising is how many surfers—and even surf action movie makers—have been drawn to the surrounding waters, cold and rough, off the beautiful Antrim coast. There are nine popular surfing beaches with waves for every ability along this short stretch of coastline, from Bushmills to Portstewart, and plenty of outfitters eager to take you or teach you. The only Quiksilver surf academy in Ireland, Troggs Surf School sits near popular tourist attraction Giant's Causeway and is consistently rated among the best in the British Isles, with everything from kids' camps to bachelor and bachelorette parties. Alive Surf School and Portrush Surf School, both in Portrush, are two other top options. The quietly luxurious Bushmills Inn, dating to the 1600s, is easily the top place to stay with standout cuisine and a pervasive whiskey theme—casks, photos, its own special Bushmills bottling, and peat fires, but no Presidential suite, just the Master Distiller's.

Drink this:Bushmills Distillery Reserve 12 year old single malt is aged predominantly in Spanish oloroso sherry casks, and as the name suggests, is only available at the distillery.
Pack this:Voormi Thermal Beanie, $40—Irish wool has nothing on this American technology, which weaves natural wool with outer-facing nylon for water resistance.
Zojirushi Insulated Mug, $25 and up—This slim vacuum bottle will keep your Irish coffee hot while you catch a few waves.

Discover a Grizzly Scene at Bozeman Spirits


Near Bozeman, one of America's great college towns, Yellowstone National Park is a great place to see a distant grizzly. But at Montana Grizzly Encounter, a highly regarded and well-run nonprofit grizzly bear rescue, you can get up close with these massive animals. Founded in 2004, the natural and scenic sanctuary is home to Brutus, Bella, Sheena, Jake, and Maggi, all rescued from captivity or orphaned in the wild. Brutus, who stands seven feet tall on his hind legs and weighs nearly half a ton, may look familiar as co-host of National Geographic's Expedition Wild with Casey Anderson. Afterward, retire to Bozeman Spirits in the city's historic downtown for a distillery tour, personalized explanation of the distilling process, and drinks in an Old West atmosphere at the saloon-style tasting room. Lark is a brand of boutique experiential hotels with an emphasis on local sense of place, and the new Lark Bozeman captures that with just 38 rooms and “guides” instead of concierges.

Drink this:Named for the year the state entered the union, Bozeman Spirits Montana 1889 whiskey is made with a trio of Montana grains—malted barley, rye, and corn.
Pack This:UDAP Bear Spray with Griz Guard Holster, $39—While you won't need it with the rescue bears, heading into the Yellowstone backcountry requires readiness. amazon.com
Yeti Tundra 45, $300—Certified grizzly resistant, padlock this cooler to protect your food—and beer—from campsite intruders.

Fish for Native Trout at Prohibition Distillery


The town of Roscoe lies two hours northwest of New York City in the Catskill Mountains and bills itself as “Trout Town USA.” The nickname may sound boastful, but it is perennially rated tops in the east as home to five streams that harbor wild brook trout, wild and stocked brown trout, and wild rainbow trout among their riffles, runs, and placid pools. It is also home to Prohibition Distillery, housed in a former firehouse turned VFW hall turned distillery. As founder and head distiller Brian Facquet explained, “I spend most of my time on a still now, but we have amazing fishing. People don't realize that the two cleanest bodies of water in North America are here, only two hours from NYC. I like to think it is the clean aquifer that makes the difference, and I have a Beaverkill Straight whiskey coming out this spring to pay tribute to the fishing gods. Roscoe is the home of American fly-fishing and the floors of my tasting room are marked with the spikes from anglers' waders to prove it.” Comfortable conditions are spring to fall, but enthusiasts don't stop for winter. There are several top-notch local angling outfitters with retail, rental, instruction, and guide services, including The Beaverkill Angler, Baxter House Outfitters, and Catskill Flies. The seven-room Reynolds House Inn & Motel is a simple spot, but it's been here for more than a century and was good enough for John D. Rockefeller.

Drink this:Prohibition Distillery's Bootlegger 21 New York bourbon whiskey-while bourbon must be made with at least 51% corn, this one is 100%, and all New York State grown. It's also certified kosher.
Pack this:Orvis Fish Flask, $49—Fishing without drinking is just fishing. This flask will keep the memories alive long after the trip is done.
Filson Tin Cloth Packer Hat,$70—Pop a few flies in the leather band and the oil finish Tin Cloth will offer needed protection in sun or rain.


The "Bike the Kentucky Bourbon Trail" has three main routes for visiting local distilleries.

Take a Grand Tour at the Kentucky Bourbon Trail


Mountain bikers aren't the only cyclists who enjoy good whiskey. For roadies, there's the “Bike the Kentucky Bourbon Trail” program, with three main mapped distillery cycling routes, plus add-ons and variants being added all the time. This means options for avid and not so avid road riders, including 3+ distilleries in 50 miles, a very solid day; 6+ distilleries in 114 miles, 2 days or one really marathon effort; and 6+ distilleries in 147 miles, for the mash masochist. The original trail included Woodford Reserve, Four Roses, Wild Turkey, Jim Beam, Heaven Hill, and Makers Mark, while several more, including Town Branch, Evan Williams, O.Z. Tyler, Willett, and the Bulleit Experience, are easy add-ons, as are the many new urban facilities in Louisville. Most roads are lightly traveled, bucolic two-laners through horse country, dotted with stores and inns along the way. It's advisable to BYOB (that's bicycle, not bottle), but Scheller's Fitness & Cycling, in both Louisville and Lexington, rents Trek road bikes. (Bring footwear besides cleats for the distillery tours.) The 21c Museum Hotels in both cities are famously whiskey-centric and make a good place to rest your head. The trail is rideable year round, but spring and fall are ideal, not too hot or cold. For detailed route maps visit kybourbontrail.com.

Drink this:Lexington's Town Branch is one of the world's few craft distillery/brewery combos. Taste the Pearse Lyons Reserve, Kentucky's first malt whiskey in 99 years, then come full circle by tasting Bourbon Barrel Ale—the beer is aged in bourbon barrels, then the Pearse Lyons is aged in those beer barrels.
Pack This:GORE C5 Gore-Tex Shakedry 1985 Viz Jacket, $300—This ultra-light jacket keeps out the rain and dries with a quick shake.
Topeak Fuel Tank, $30-$65—This top tube bag keeps essentials close at hand, with cable access to charge your phone while navigating to the next whiskey.
King Cage BarBell, $40—Bicycle bells function to get the attention of pedestrians and other riders, but this one doubles as a shot glass.

Hike Like a Smuggler at Glenlivet Distillery


In the U.S., running illegal moonshine during Prohibition gave rise to NASCAR. In the Scottish Highlands, efforts of unlicensed distillers to avoid laws and taxes more than 200 years ago resulted in secret rugged footpaths. Today, Glenlivet Distillery keeps this tradition alive with three mapped hiking loops of three to seven miles rated easy, moderate, and challenging, all on these old smugglers' trails, just steps from its tour and tasting room. Natural and historic sites along the trails include the ruins of Glenlivet founder George Smith's original distillery, the distillery water source, and panoramic views of the Cairngorm Mountains from the summit of Carn Daimh, along with grouse, pheasant, and roe deer. For the keen hiker, there are seventeen other well-marked (with blue discs) hiking trails of up to eight miles on the Glenlivet Estate. Winter months can be snowy in the mountains, though Estate trails are typically clear. The distillery offers a food and whisky pairing and tours with tastings. The unaffiliated Glenlivet House is a charming castle-like B&B nearby.

Drink this:Instead of a distillery tour, opt for the one-hour, sit down, Drams of Distinction Tasting, a guided sampling of rare Glenlivet whiskies paired with food. (£40, reservations essential)
Pack This:Dubarry Leather Waterville Boot, $399—When you can only pack one pair, this waterproof Irish-made boot is versatile enough to go from trail to cocktail hour.
Helinox Chair Zero, $120—This chair weighs less than one pound and collapses to the size of a water bottle, so you can relax with a whisky just about anywhere.