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A Taste of Scotland - Scotch Whiskey Touring

Picture of scotch serving in a tasting room.
In distillery tasting rooms,
Scotch whiskey is served
"neat" (no ice).

Scotch whiskey (or whisky, without the "e", as it's spelled throughout the world - except for the U.S.A. and Ireland) has risen to become one the country's top industries and a major tourist draw.

Small wonder, then, that among the dozens of scotch distilleries and tasting rooms dotting the landscape, each tries its best to impress visitors with its own unique characteristics.

The smooth, silken drink that is distilled from treasured water sources and traditional malts will surprise the casual drinker and delight those who have already discovered the wonders of fine Scotch whiskey.

Non-connoisseurs may not be able to discern the differences between Speyside or West Coast at first. Not to worry... rest easy knowing that after sampling a few of the world's finest Scotch whiskeys, differences will be clear to all. It is definitely worth the trip to mellow-out with a wee dram (or two) if only to sample an important part of Scottish history and culture.

Blended scotch & single malts

Much like the blending of several grape varietals to create a unique wine, blended scotch is made up of malt and grain whiskey to arrive at a specific taste. The most famous of these worldwide brands include Chivas, Dewar's, and Johnny Walker, each with their own flavor and character.

However, Scotch purists will tell you that you really don't know scotch until you've experienced the unique flavor and aroma of single malts found in local, less "global" distilleries. Like wine aficionados, you can spend a lifetime of experimenting to find your favorite taste. It may be sweet, smokey, oakey, dark, light - or a combination of all of the above. If you have never understood the attraction of scotch whiskey, be prepared for enlightenment!

Picture of Glenmorangie scotch distillery
With the tallest stills in all of
Scotland. Glemorangie boasts the
best selling single malt whiskey.

Still one of the best-selling single malts in Scotland and throughout the world is Glenmorangie, located in the Northern Highlands with its own pure water source, distinct distilling process, and laid back tasting room.

Americans should especially note that scotch served with ice or "on the rocks" is a foreign concept to most Scottish distillery tasting room hosts.

And 'tis true - as we followed their suggestion to add only a few wee drops of water to release, as if by magic, the drink's true flavor and aroma, no chilling is needed to savor the experience.

Touring Scotch whiskey distilleries

To sample a variety of malt whiskey distilleries travel experts suggest that first-timers follow mapped trails accommodating one or more days of traveling by car or arranged tour. Try to find a native guide to point you to the best places to stop for a tour and handle the driving so you can sample the whiskey free of worry. For independent tourists on the Whisky Trails, each distillery has its own professionally-launched mega tour, as well.

Picture of the Malt whiskey trail road signThe main Speyside whiskey trail is probably the most famous and includes stops at Aberlour, Balvenie, Glenfiddich, Speyburn, Glenlivet and Macallan.

For drinking in incredible scenery as you sample the local scotch also try the West Coast whisky trail, taking in Scotland's wild and wet seaside and the incredibly beautiful Isle of Skye.

Quick distillery trips

Many tourists plan a trip to Scotland around discovering the wonders of the water of life, but if your Scotland trip is limited to Edinburgh, you're still in luck. An entire education (as well as tastings) is available at the Scottish Whisky Experience where family-friendly audio-visual and interactive displays tell the story of the national drink. To sample the genuine article in authentic surroundings, plan a day trip to nearby Glenkinchie Distillery which is only 15 miles southeast of the city.

The Glasgow area also provides one of the best experiences for first timers at Glengoyne Distillery, 12 miles north of the city center, surrounded by picture-perfect surroundings while producing one of the more subtle tastes for scotch newbies.

More about Scotch whiskey on the Web:

Scotch Whisky Distilleries, Scotland - the complete online tour... sorry, no online tastings are available!

also see in Travel -> Edinburgh | Glencoe | Golfing St. Andrews

Loch Ness | Scotland Castles | Top Scotland Luxury Hotels



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