Each region has a distinct flavour and whisky style, and we’ve highlighted a distillery to visit in each one, along with somewhere gorgeous to stay for the night. Let’s be honest, you could make each region a mini tour in itself, but these little snifters should give you some inspiration for combining a wee dram with a night or two somewhere very special.
Whisky Region No.1: Lowland | Distillery: Glenkinchie
Only a handful of distilleries operate in this region, and the single malts produced tend to be lighter; hence their traditional name of ‘Lowland Ladies’ characterised by fruity, zesty, sometimes floral notes. Glenkinchie is just 20 minutes outside Edinburgh in the fertile fields and meadows of East Lothian, and has an excellent tour and visitor centre in listed red brick buildings.
Accommodation : Gilmerton House
Exclusive Use Gilmerton House offers an exceptional level of accommodation and comfort, including a full butler service for overnight guests. You will enjoy all the facilities of the mansion, making it your own stately home.
Whisky Region No.2: Campbeltown | Distillery: Springbank
This small coastal town on the tip of the Kintyre peninsula once boasted 30 distilleries, but now Campbeltown has just three. Interestingly however, it is still considered a distilling region in its own right and the whiskies coming from here are distinctive: much coveted peaty and briny single malts.
Springbank distillery is one of the oldest family run operations in Scotland, and unusual in that every aspect of the process is done on the premises, from malting and maturation to bottling. A range of tours allows visitors to experience distilling at first hand and there is a separate tasting room in Campbeltown itself.
This superb restaurant with rooms features in the Good Food Guide and has been awarded four stars by Visit Scotland. One of the founders of the Seafood Trail, this restaurant specialises in locally caught lobster and fresh seasonal produce. You can continue your evening and whisky tasting while watching the sunset on the beach, or take an evening stroll in the small characterful village of Carradale.
Whisky Region No.3: Speyside | Distillery: Glenlivet
By far the biggest region in terms of production, an incredible half of all Scottish distilleries can be found here. Single malts abound, noted for their elegance and complexity: sometimes fruity, sometimes smoky, always interesting.
Glenlivet sits in a wild, remote glen in the very heart of whisky making country. The distillery has a history that is rich in drama and intrigue, making a tour here particularly gripping, especially if you go for the Legacy Tasting Experience: an exclusive tutored tasting of extremely rare and aged single malts from the Glenlivet.
Accommodation: Cardhu House
Just a mile from the River Spey (so you can indulge in a spot of salmon fishing as well as whisky tasting if you fancy) is this exclusive and award winning rural retreat that takes luxury bed and breakfast to new heights. There are six lovely rooms, each named after local distilleries, and you can even continue the theme at breakfast, where whisky porridge with acacia honey is served.
Whisky Region No.4: Islay Distillery | Bowmore
It may only be 25 miles long, but the island of Islay is home to no fewer than eight distilleries, and that’s more than enough to make it an official region all by itself. It’s a peaty place, and it’s this peat, moistened by sea spray and rain, that is burned in kilns to smoke the malt used in the distilling process at Bowmore, founded in 1779 and one of Scotland’s oldest whisky makers. It may be off the beaten track, but the historic vaults here have matured some of the most sought after whisky in the world.
Accommodation: Bowmore Distillery Cottages
Stay on the Bowmore Estate in one of the 4 star cottages and experience the tranquility and peace of this beautiful island. Ranging from 1 to 4 bedrooms, all the cottages have distinct characters, much like the range of whiskies created at the distillery itself.
Whisky Region No.5: Highland | Distillery: Pulteney
The Highland region is by far the largest, geographically, and tends to produce flavours that are drier and richer than other regions, with nutty, honey and heather notes. The most northerly distillery on the mainland, Pulteney distillery is situated near the historic harbour at Wick. Age-old methods are still employed to produce the famous Old Pulteney and the use of American ex-Bourbon casks and ex-sherry casks from Spain, both made of oak for maturation, contribute to its unique flavour.
Accommodation: Ackergill Tower
Once you’ve made it this far north you might as well stay in real style. This 5 star, low profile and super private 13th century castle on the Caithness coast can be booked for individual guest. Dine in the Great Hall, wake to the sound of the pipes: it doesn’t get much more Highland than this.