Scotland is the home of glorious uber-popular drink – whisky. In 2014 it was reported that there are 98 active distilleries in Scotland and over 20 million casks of delicious, slowly maturing whisky. The Highlands of Scotland produces a lot of this tonic and has some of the best distilleries in the world, producing Scotland’s greatest export for the thirsty masses!
A distillery tour is a great way to learn about and develop a greater appreciation of whisky, a tour of Highland distilleries is a great way to learn not only about Scotland’s national drink but also the culture that surrounds the ‘water of life!’
With that in mind, we thought we’d answer the question, ‘What are the top 5 distilleries in the Highlands to visit?’ That way, when you visit the Highlands, you know where to find the ‘best whisky tours near me’ are
Only a few miles south of Inverness, Tomatin Distillery has been producing whisky since 1897. Their whisky has been used in many famous blends like J&B, Chivas Regal and Johnnie Walker, as well as in the premium Tomatin brand. The distillery normally operates all year round and has recently opened its door after COVID. The distillery has extensive tours of its facility which will help you discover more about the art of distilling, the history of the area, and the special methods involved in the distillation process. Of course, no trip to a distillery would be complete without the obligatory dram or two after a hard day of touring. A few nips can be had, and bottles and gifts can be bought from the gift shop to share with your loved ones.
How to get to Tomatin Distillery
It’s only a 20-minute drive south from Inverness on the A96 and lies just outside the village that bears the same name. Can’t get any simpler than that!
Glen Ord Distillery
On the edge of the Black Isle, west of Inverness, Glen Ord Distillery is a delight to both the eye and the palate. Glen Ord is one of the Highland’s hidden gems that produces and sells ‘the water of life to its countrymen and its admirers all around the world. Open all year, Glen Ord offers a taste of how whisky is crafted, and its tours are sure to suit everyone, from the whisky novice to the connoisseur. Experts will share their extensive knowledge of how barley and water can be combined to make a product that has delighted the world and warmed the bones of many. You can tour the facilities, learn the trade secrets, and taste the famous Singleton of Glen Ord right where it was born.
How to get to Glen Ord Distillery
25 minutes/15 miles west of Inverness by car, take the A9 and A832 to Muir of Ord.
Balblair Distillery matches exactly what one imagines when you conjure up an image in your mind of a Highland distillery. This world-famous distillery sits on an ancient Pictish gathering place, a stone’s through from the banks of the Dornoch Firth, making its location one that’s pure steeped in Highland tradition and history. The distillery is one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland, officially serving the elixir to the public from 1790, but it is said that illicit distilling was happening on the site far before this.
How to get to Balblair Distillery
30 or so miles north of Inverness on the A9, just outside Tain is where you’ll find this distillery. A lovely part of the Highlands, just along the coast with views over the Dornach Firth.
Like Balblair Distillery, Glenmorangie Distillery is located by the banks of the Dornoch Firth, near to the charming village of Tain in the north Highlands. Glenmorangie is an award-winning whisky that was first made way back in 1843 and has gone from strength to strength ever since. Glenmorangie is one of those brands that is famous the world over, appearing in Hollywood movies and is drunk in trendy bars and sawdust-on-the-floor pubs alike! Great in cocktails, neat, or just with a wee dash of water, Glenmorangie is great every time. They distil their unique product in the tallest copper stills in the country, citing the giraffe as their inspiration. Maybe that’s what gives their whisky its definitive taste?
The visitor centre has recently reopened after COVID and tours and experiences are back underway where you can learn more about the craft as well as taste some of the product.
How to get to Glenmorangie Distillery
Glenmorangie is closer towards Tain, so it’s up the A9 from Inverness and follow the signs from Tain. You could get a train from Inverness to Tain also and a bus/taxi out to the distillery.
Dalwhinnie Distillery is home to a world-famous single malt renowned for its gentle flavours of heather honey, citrus, vanilla and sweet malt. Set in the spectacular mountain scenery at the heart of the Cairngorm National Park, Dalwhinnie is known for being the highest distillery in Scotland – 1164 feet above sea level. The distillery got its name from the Gaelic phrase for ‘Plain of Meetings, referring to the meeting of ancient cattle driving routes through the Cairngorms. The distillery is open all year round 7 days a week from the 36th of April, closing only for Christmas and New Year. The remote but very accessible location of the distillery makes it a great addition to any whisky distillery tour.
How to get to Dalwhinnie Distillery
Dalwhinnie is 90 minutes south of Inverness on the A9 or 2 hours north of Edinburgh on the same road. Dalwhinnie itself also has a train station, and the distillery is but a 15-minute walk from the station.
Book a Whisky Distillery Tour
The best way to see any part of the highlands is with a guide to hand. These local experts know the area, the history, and they aren’t a stranger to a dram or two! So, why not book a whisky distillery tour through IT Tours where professional drivers will show you the best of the highlands as they transport you in style and safety to your favoured distilleries.
To book a Highland distillery tour, visit the IT Tours website or give them a call on +(44) 01463233333 to discuss your options. They specialise in tours across Scotland and can help organise your holiday in Scotland.