We recently visited the Scottish Highlands to do some single malt scotch tastings on the famous Whisky Trail. I quickly found that I could tolerate only one tasting per day, which left plenty of time to experience other attractions in this wild and beautiful part of the world. We hiked, cycled, golfed, watched dolphins from the cliffs of the coastline, and visited a castle or two — and we still didn’t manage to fit it all in. If you are planning a visit to the Whiskey Trail, the map below might be helpful. It includes several layers that indicate the locations of distilleries, golf, bike rentals for cycling, accommodations, where to eat, hikes, and a few attractions that are worth a visit. Below the map, I’ve included some sample itineraries. For more in-depth information on what is included in this map, take a look at these tips on getting the most out of a visit to the Whiskey Trail .
Here are some sample itineraries that combine scotch tasting with the many activities and attractions near the Whiskey Trail. There are simply too many distilleries to work all of them into a 5 day trip, so if you want to cover every distillery, you’ll have to stay longer or visit more than one or two per day!
Day 1: After a nice big breakfast, drive to Lossiemouth on the Banffshire Coast. Depending on where you stay, this will be a bit of a drive but well worth it! Go golfing at one of the three golf courses nearby (see the map) or rent a bike at Outfit Moray (Note: Outfit Moray has a selection of very nice bikes in different sizes, but reserve ahead of time!). Have a late lunch or snack in Lossiemouth (try Harbor Lights Cafe) and then go for a tasting at Glen Moray and/or Benromach. You do not have to book a tour to taste at either of these distilleries. If you want a tour, see the Glen Moray web site for a schedule (you do not have to book in advance). Tours leave every 30 minutes at Benromach and a reservation is not required. TIP: The tasting portions at Glen Moray are ENORMOUS. One tasting is enough for two people easily, and probably 3 if you don’t mind sharing a glass. If you want to grab dinner close by, head for some Italian food at Lido in nearby Elgin.
Day 2: After a nice big breakfast (do you sense a pattern here?), drive toward the coast again to visit/hike the Troup Head Reserve. From the cliffs of Troup Head, you can spot dolphins, minke whales, and unusual sea birds. The tiny village of Crovie is only a few miles away and can be reached by hiking through the fields along the cliffs from Troup Head. After your hike, grab lunch or a snack in Macduff, then visit the Duff House, and/or the Aquarium. If you are up for more walking, you might want to take a drive to the spectacular Findlater Castle, which perches on the cliffs above the sea near Banff. Go for your tasting today at Glendronach where several different types of tours are offered (including a connoisseur’s tour which requires advance booking).
Day 3: After your nice big breakfast, pick up a free bike (yes, I said free) in Dufftown at Balvenie Bike Hire and head out on a 13 mile bike ride from Dufftown to Keith (see route information here). In Keith, take in a tour and a tasting at Strathisla. Grab lunch at Thirteen Moons (where you can watch the farm animals and even take a cooking class). In the afternoon, ride back to Dufftown and take in a tasting at Balvenie. (Note: You must have a reservation to visit Balvenie). After your big bike ride, you’ll be hungry, so stay in Dufftown and eat at Taste of Speyside (hint: strike up a conversation with the owner, who also happens to be the chef; he might pull up a chair and a bottle of scotch if you stay long enough and entertain him with witty conversation).
Day 4: After a nice big breakfast, head to Ballindalloch Castle for a tour of this beautiful old home and its wonderful gardens. While you are there, take hike or play a round of golf. You can also try your hand at shooting and stalking at Ballindalloch, or go fishing. There is a nice tea room there where you can grab a light lunch whenever you are hungry. Afterward, head over to Cardhu (the only distillery pioneered by a woman) for a tour and a tasting. Cardhu runs tours throughout the day (reservations not required). If you can take a second tasting, Glenfarclas is also nearby as well. Still hungry? Dinner at Riverside.
Day 5: Ready to check yourself into the Betty to dry out? Take a break and go for a 1 hour drive to Balmoral Castle, the holiday home to Britain’s royal family. After your tour of the house and gardens, take a Land Rover tour, go salmon fishing, or play a round of golf. If you haven’t had enough scotch, you can always stop at Glenlivet on the way home.
For more details on the distilleries, accommodations, and attractions in the area, see these tips about planning your trip to the Scotch Whiskey Trail. Enjoy the journey!SHARE THIS ARTICLE