Scottish Tourist Guide
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Margot McMurdo, Blue Badge Scottish Tourist Guide.
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The Spirit of Scotland Tour
7 Day Tour
Slainte mhath! Your very good health
(pronounced 'slange - ee-va' – A Scottish Toast)
You can enjoy the real Spirit of Scotland, the 'amber nectar, the 'water of life' on a wonderful tour of Scotland visiting some of the best single malt whisky distilleries in the world, and relax completely, taking in the scenery and enjoying the culture and other fascinating sites as you will be driven around by your own personal driverguide - you cannot drink and drive and most distilleries offer tastings of their products.
We can visit, amongst others, the smallest or the most northerly, or the highest by altitude. Scottish single malt whiskies all taste very different depending on where they are produced and this tour can take you all over the country, even to some of the islands.
You will experience different tastes in very different locations, meet the wonderful local people and can experience the warm welcoming Scottish hospitality as I will recommend accommodation to suit your personal requirements.
For those who would like to visit just one or two whisky distilleries along with historic sites, the tour can be tailored to suit your interests, maybe even including a round of golf or some fishing. Nothing is a problem, it is an opportunity for you to enjoy the very best that Scotland has to offer.
This is an example of a 7 day tour which covered a large part of the country taking in a variety of whisky distilleries with two whisky connoisseurs from the United States:
We started in Edinburgh and headed to St Andrews to satisfy the needs of a golfing enthusiast.
Then north to Perthshire and to Edradour Distillery, the smallest and one of the most picturesque whisky distilleries in Scotland. Edradour is a smooth Highland Malt. The amount of whisky they produce in a year, the bigger distilleries would produce in a week!
We then headed north through the Grampian mountains and into the area known as Speyside where some of the most famous single malts are created. Visiting The Balvenie Distillery for a 3 hour specialist tour during which you can bottle your very own wee personal bottle of whisky.
The Balvenie is a very mellow malt. We stayed overnight at a lovely guest house right next door to another distillery at Cardhu.
We also visited Glenfarclas Distillery another of the well known Speyside malts. Glenfarclas is very rich and well-rounded with a mellow finish.
No whisky tour would be complete without a visit to The Whisky Shop at Dufftown. With over 600 whiskies for sale and 300 to try before you buy, it is a 'must visit'!
After a lovely afternoon drive we had an overnight stay in the Highland city of Inverness. We then explored a little further north to Glenmorangie Distillery (pronounced Glen- morangey as in orangey flavour not Glen-mor-angie). Glenmorangie is smooth, delicate and slightly sweet.
We also visited the historic site of Culloden Battlefield where Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Jacobite followers met the Government troops led by the 'Butcher' Duke of Cumberland in 1746. Then we visited Cawdor Castle and Gardens, a stunning furnished castle, after a delicious lunch at the Cawdor Tavern.
We stayed another night in Inverness before travelling south down the side of Loch Ness, through Fort William and to Oban Distillery. Oban is a complex malt with a full Island character balanced by a soft Highland finish.
Now as we travel south which way to go, the finger points to Ardfern and a refreshment with the locals at the Galley of Lorne Inn.
Refreshed we continue south through Kilmartin and overnight in a castle!
The next day is glorious, the sun is shining for our ferry crossing to the Isle of Islay, and home to 8 single malt whisky distilleries and each one produces a very different whisky.
Islay is world-renowned for its distilleries but the island also offers a rich, colourful landscape with sandy beaches, towering cliffs and a huge variety of wildlife, making it a perfect place to relax. You might catch sight of seals, dolphins , buzzards or eagles or you can just sit back and take in the spectacular views all around.
Islay was also the birthplace of Alexander McDougall in 1732. He rose through the ranks to become a Major General- and George Washington's right hand man. He also became President of the Bank of New York. Small world!
We travel to the south of the island to visit Laphroig Distillery, located right on the coast line . Laphroig whisky is robust and full bodied with a trace of seaweed and it has a strong peaty flavour.
During prohibition, Laphroig could still be bought in America. Ian, the distillery owner at that time, persuaded the authorities it was for medicinal purposes - lucky for the American consumers!
Friends of Laphroig have a lifetime lease of an unregistered plot which is recorded at the distillery and are entitled to a yearly ground rent of one dram of Laphroig to be claimed in person at the distillery!
Close to Laphroig we found the Kildalton High Cross which was carved around 1,300 years ago and is one of the finest and most complete early Christian crosses in Scotland.
Our Islay base was the pretty little town of Bowmore. Here too is a distillery, many small shops and a good choice of places to eat and drink. There is also a circular church, no corners for the devil to hide!
Gaelic is spoken by some of the islanders and many road signs are in Gaelic and English.
Lagavulin Distillery is located at the south of the island. Lagavulin is a powerful, dry, peat smoky flavour and slightly sweet.
We travel to the west side of the island and visit Bruachladdich. This single malt is more subtle than the others from Islay, less medicinal and light, dry and fresh tasting. The distillery also makes their own Gin!
Bunnahabhain Distillery is on the east side of the island. Their whisky is less peaty, mellow and aromatic.
We also stop by Kilchoman Distillery, a farm distillery and the first distillery built on the island for 124 years!
We take our leave of Islay and meet up with some of the Classic Malts ladies waiting at the ferry.
Back on the mainland we drive to Stirling via Loch Fyne and Loch Lomond and stop for a refreshment at one of Scotland's oldest inns, The Drovers, before heading to our overnight hotel accommodation which was built in 1787 as a school for boys and is located right next door to Stirling Castle.
We had to visit this wonderful castle as the Royal Apartments have been fully restored as to how they would have looked in the 16th century, complete with characters.
This is the last day of the tour and time for one more whisky visit, Glenkinchie Distillery. This distillery is the closest to Edinburgh, our final destination. Glenkinchie whisky is a lowland whisky, fine, pale and smooth and ideal as an aperitif.
We have run out of space in the luggage department, so before we visit the beautiful and historic Roslyn Chapel a diversion to acquire badly needed extra suitcases!
Now we have just to get everything home safe and in one piece so we can reminice about our Scottish Whisky Adventure at the other side of the Atlantic!
Journeys end, but haste ye back! We have to return for our yearly ground rent at Laphroig!
Special Whisky Events for 2019
You may like to incorporate these events into your visit.
- 3rd-7th May Speyside Whisky Festival
- 28th May-2nd June Islay Festival of Malt and Music
To enquire or book:
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- In order to avoid disappointment, please try to book at least 4 weeks in advance. If that's impossible contact me anyway, and I'll do my best!