Planning a whisky trip to Scotland can be an exciting and enriching experience for enthusiasts and adventurers alike. Scotland is renowned for its rich whisky heritage, and it offers a multitude of distilleries, picturesque landscapes, and cultural experiences for visitors.
If you’re looking to journey to the heart of the amber nectar, there are some must-see sights and must-do activities you’ll want to include in your itinerary. To help you plan an unforgettable trip, we’ve put together this guide that covers everything from essential considerations before you travel to etiquette and recommended excursions.
Researching and preparing for your Scottish whisky trip
Before you embark on your whisky adventure, it’s crucial to do your homework. Start by immersing yourself in the world of whisky. Online resources, books, and documentaries can provide a solid foundation. Learn about whisky production in Scotland, the history of scotch, and the different types and regions waiting to be explored.
Also, research the best time to visit depending on your preferences. If you enjoy hustle and bustle, then consider going during one of the annual whisky festivals. Quieter, off-peak periods will make for a more intimate experience. The key is to be well-prepared so make sure you don’t forget to pack the right clothing for the weather and terrain, a notebook and pen to record your whisky-tasting musings, and a camera to capture every magical moment.
Choosing your destination
When it comes to the whisky regions of Scotland, each has its own unique character and charm. These regions include Speyside, Islay, Highland, Lowland, and Campbeltown. Take time to understand the distinctions between them.
-Speyside: Known for its smooth and often sweet malts.
– Islay: Famous for its peaty and smoky whiskies.
-Highland: Offers a diverse range of flavours, from fruity to spicy.
-Lowland: Known for its gentle, lighter drams.
-Campbeltown: Distinct, full-bodied expressions come from this region.
If you’re a seasoned whisky drinker, then you might already have an area in mind as you know it’s home to your favourite brands. However, if you’re looking to fully immerse yourself in what Scotland has to offer, then you might prefer hopping between areas to make the most of the country and its whiskies. Every region is home to at least one distillery but Speyside, which is where The Glenlivet Distillery is situated, has the largest number.
Creating an itinerary will help you to experience as much as possible and give you something to look forward to every day. While planning, consider a mix of well-known locations and hidden gems. It’s also wise to make advanced reservations for popular tours and tastings. A degree of flexibility is a good idea, however, as you might discover new places along the way.
Select accommodation that is conveniently located near the distilleries you plan to visit. Scotland offers a range of options, from cosy local inns to luxurious hotels. However, book accommodations well in advance, particularly if you’re travelling during peak tourist seasons.
Getting around Scotland requires careful consideration. You can rent a car for freedom and flexibility, use public transportation, or opt for guided tours. If you plan on indulging in extensive tastings, having a designated driver or an alternative transportation arrangement is crucial.
Distillery tours and tastings
Distillery tours are the lifeblood of any Scotland whisky trip. They provide insight into the whisky production process, showing how every bottle is brought to life. During each tour, don’t hesitate to ask questions and engage with your guide. Take your time to savour the flavours and aromas, and don’t forget to pick up a memento of your visit to take home!
The Glenlivet Distillery was awarded Scotland’s Leading Whisky Distillery Tour at the World Travel Awards 2023 and the Green Tourism Gold Award 2023. We offer a range of experiences to suit all budgets and time constraints including our Original distillery tour, The Single Casks tasting session, The Archives Warehouse tour and The Cellar Collection tasting session. Plus, there are plenty of highlights you won’t want to miss including the Smuggler’s Hideout, Process Room, and The Lounge.
Whisky tasting etiquette
When it comes to whisky tasting, follow a classic whisky tasting guide. Evaluate the appearance, nose, palate, and finish, and don’t forget to use your whisky tasting journal to record your impressions. Most importantly, practise responsible drinking and moderation, especially when visiting multiple distilleries.
Part of the joy of a whisky trip to Scotland is pairing local dishes with much-loved drams. Traditional Scottish food and drink like haggis, smoked salmon, stovies, Irn Bru and Drambuie are a must-try. Experiment with flavour combinations that complement the whisky you’re enjoying. It’s a culinary adventure that adds depth to your whisky experience.
Scotland is not just about whisky; it’s a land steeped in history and culture. Explore castles, museums, and historic sites. Immerse yourself in local traditions and customs. Try to attend Scottish events and festivals for a truly authentic experience. For example, if you visit toward the end of January, you’ll be privy to some fantastic Burns Night traditions such as the Selkirk Grace and a Burns Night supper.
If you’re visiting The Glenlivet Distillery, there are plenty of other things to do in Speyside that will further enhance your experience. Cairngorms National Park, for instance, is a stunning showcase of Scottish scenery and offers magnificent walking routes, water sports, golf courses and a plethora of local interest spots.
Souvenirs and whisky purchases
Bringing back a bottle or two of scotch whisky is almost a rite of passage. When purchasing whisky as a souvenir or gift think about those you have sampled and the flavours you have enjoyed the most. You might want to be able to relive your time in Scotland once you get home by pouring a glass or further your whisky knowledge with a variety you didn’t get to try. Just be aware of the restrictions and regulations concerning transporting alcohol back to your home country.
A whisky trip to Scotland provides the perfect chance to explore the country’s beautiful landscapes, delve into its rich history and, of course, savour the finest scotch whiskies. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can plan a whisky adventure that’s not only memorable but also deeply rewarding. So, pack your bags, raise a glass, and enjoy every second. Slàinte mhath!
Fancy going further afield? Explore whisky types around the world with our informative guide. Or once you’ve unpacked, you can always settle into your favourite chair and enjoy The Glenlivet with one of our delicious whisky cocktail recipes.