Despite global warming Scotland is not yet known as a wine producer! But of course it’s famous for ‘the water of life’, whisky. Copious supplies of barley, crystal clear water, plentiful peat and a tradition of master distillers produce the world’s best and most varied whisky. Combine that with warm hospitality, fresh local produce and a long heritage, Scotland is the perfect place to explore the world’s finest spirit.
Scotland’s whisky producing regions are more diverse than you might think. The Lowlands extend from the border with England up to Edinburgh and Glasgow. Speyside, which has the biggest concentration of distilleries is in the Eastern Highlands based on the town of Inverness. The Northern Highlands extend up to the northernmost tip of the mainland. Islay, off the west coast, has several distilleries and is distinctive enough to be considered a region in its own right. And then there are other islands including Mull, Orkney and Skye.
Single malt whisky is the most diverse spirit of any and comes in a thousand and one incarnations. It’s called single malt as it’s the product of a single distillery and made from malted barley. The lightest style tends to be from the Lowlands, the richest from the Highlands, and the peatiest from Islay. But within these broad categories there is a huge range, even between the different bottlings from the same distillery.
Scotland’s climate is relatively cool, with mild summers and cold winters, and the islands are influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. However climate and terroir don’t have an influence on the final product in the same way that they effect styles of wine. Styles of whisky vary according to the type of barley used, quality of water, shape of the stills, number of distillations, type of barrels (mainly ex sherry or bourbon are used), location of ageing warehouses, length of ageing……all have an influence on the final product.
Past Tours To Scotland
Speyside Whisky Tour
2020 (and most of 2021 to be honest) has been a surreal year to say the least. With all Speyside whisky distilleries closing to visitors in 2020 and focusing on whisky production instead, we had no option but to postpone our original tour dates to this world famous whisky region. Finally this November we were able to see a glimmer of normality returning so we took the plunge and travelled north for a fabulous whisky tour (which didn’t disappoint), staying in a lovely private mansion in Forres. Whilst November may not bring the ideal weather for a ‘roaming in the glens’ it certainly makes an ideal time for a distillery visit (or three, or four!), some great whisky tastings and some great food too – all with great company. We’ll definitely be back.
Islay Whisky Tour
We’re all about wine tours and this one was all about…whisky. Islay Single Malt Whiskies are the strongest flavoured of all malt whiskies: made of stern stuff indeed. A spectacular drive & ferry crossing led us to the iconic island of Islay, nestled off the west coast of Scotland. This was quintessential Scotland. We spent three days visiting all 8 distilleries on the island. The most peaty being Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Laphroig, on the South Coast; Bowmore, Bruichladdich and Kilchoman in the centre; and Bunnahabhain and Caol Ila in the North. Our evenings were all about roaring fires and long chats in homely cottages on the grounds of Bowmore. Also there were cask samples, barrel tastings & finally a whisky and chocolate tasting at Glengoyne en route back to Glasgow: it was every whisky lover’s dream come true.