The Whisky Trail
Tour the Whisky Trail with a Driver-Guide
The Whisky Trail
Discover the whisky trail with a private driver-guide. Immerse yourself in the fragrances and flavours of fine Scotch Whisky.
Speyside, a region of northern Scotland, is famous for its scenery and castles but above all for whisky production. It is home to some forty-five distillers making it the greatest concentration of distilleries in the world. Each of the distilleries we visit offers a free tour rounding off the visit with a tasting session.
There are many advantages to following the whisky trail. Chief among them; 1) the product seldom disappoints; 2) the trail runs through some of the most stunning scenery imaginable, and 3) no one cares if it's raining. Our sample itinerary Whisky, Golf and Culture Tour can be customised to include your chosen distilleries.
A brief history of Scotch Whisky
First mentioned in Scotland's Exchequer Rolls (records of income and expenditure) in 1494, aqua vitae was known as the water of life. The earliest known distillation process took place at the Lindores Abbey in Fife. However, the strategy had likely been known at least 100 years earlier, introduced from Ireland.
The Government is always looking for revenue creation opportunities and taxed whisky for the first time in 1644. It was giving rise to significant illicit distilling, with much of it taking place in the Highlands. Government laws requiring distillers to be licenced were frequently ignored. Many of the Highland magistrates were themselves landowners and conscious that it was the trade that paid their rents. They reasoned that imprisoned tenants would be unable to pay.
A revision to the restrictions on licenced distillers was introduced in 1823, which clamped down on unlicensed stills and, critically, the landowners whose property those stills stood. The was landowners moved to shut down unlicensed stills. One of the first distillers to set up under the new regulations was the Glenlivet Distillery in 1824 and still in business today.
The full trail takes in seven well-known distilleries, a historic distillery, and a cooperage. Among those on the trail are Glenlivet, Cardhu, Glenfiddich, Glen Grant, Strathilsa, Glen Moray, Benromach, and the Dallas Dhu Historic Distillery. The Cooperage is the Spey Side cooperage. Each is fascinating in its own right. Each maintains that their product is unique because - the choice is entirely yours.
Many clients prefer to spend a day visiting just one or two of their favourite distilleries and combining it with a visit some of the towns and castles along the trail. We're happy to take you wherever you wish.
Suggestions include; Grantown-on-Spey; a fascinating 18th-century town; Dufftown, claims to produce more malt whiskey than any other town in Scotland and reinforces this claim with a notice 'Whisky Capital of the World'. Aberlour; famous not only as a whiskey town but also as the home of the famous Walkers Shortbread. Castles include Balvenie Castle, a 13th-century moated castle built for the Earls of Buchan. It was attached by Robert the Bruce in 1308 and rendered uninhabitable. It is now a scheduled monument and is in the care of Historic Environment Scotland. Drumin Castle, built sometime early 15th century but abandoned in the 18th and now a ruin.
Touring and accommodation
The Whisky Trail features in our suggested Whisky, Golf and Culture Tour.
We have created various itineraries available to book off-the-shelf, or our Tour-Designers can customise a tour based on your interests and accommodation needs. Please use our Touring Guide for inspiration. For your information, our Family Tour of Scotland is ideal for families with young or older children; we can adjust the activities accordingly. Our Whisky, Golf and Culture itinerary is great for a group of adults or older multi-generational families. Please browse our Private Tours of Scotland.
The Highlands is an immensely popular destination and has a wide variety of accommodation to suit all budgets and styles. When touring the Highlands, the accommodation style becomes architecturally local, which makes the stay interesting. Expect restored hunting lodges, Victorian holiday homes transformed into luxury hotels, castles and leisure resorts. The Gleneagles Hotel has the best accommodation and facilities of any resort in the region and easy access to the Whisky Trail. Fonab Castle Hotel in Pitlochry is great five-star option allowing you access to the Highlands, the Whisky Trail, and St Andrews.
The World Famous Whisky Trail
Tour stunning scenery, stop for lunch and taste whisky
- Choose Between 45 Distilleries
- Whisky Expert Guide Available
- Tailor-made Whisky Tours
- Tour from Edinburgh
- Tour from the Highlands