These are the top 10 Whisky Distilleries to Visit on your Scotland Vacation.
With their heavy, smoked-peat flavor, the Islay malts are in a class of their own. Try them! This malt is pronounced “lafroyg” but your pronunciation doesn’t matter—the taste is famous for instant recognition. A fun, informal tour with plenty of wit at the ocean. Port Ellen, Islay
Like its rival Laphroaig, this is a very distinctive malt. It is made in a traditional distillery with unusual pear-shaped stills. A very personal tour with no mass-market hustle. Port Ellen, Islay
A rare Lowland distillery, this was founded in 1837 and is 15 miles from Edinburgh. Location makes it a popular place to visit, meaning semi-crowded, but it’s prepared. There’s a state-of-the-art visitor center.
Established in 1825, this is Scotland’s smallest distillery and its cluster of buildings has remained unchanged for 150 years. To witness the process here is great because of the small size. Only 12 casks a week are produced, making it a rare treat for a rare few. Near Pitlochry.
One of the first distilleries to come out of hiding and to be legalized in 1824. Glenlivet has been at the forefront of the industry ever since. A fluent and comprehensive tour. We love the musty warehouse where the whisky sleeps for 12 – 18 years. In Ballindalloch.
One of the few independent companies and proud of it. Established in 1836, the distillery is owned and managed by the fifth generation of the Grant family. Tour the gleaming copper stills and then take a dram in the Ships Room. Terrific. In Ballindalloch.
Another of the famous Speyside brands, and one of the most modern visitor centers in the valley. Aside from a guided tour, you explore whisky-making using the latest interactive technology. For a fee, you can become a connoisseur by prearranging an individually-tutored nosing and tasting tour. Worth it! In Craigellachie.
The only distillery pioneered by a woman. Beside producing a distinguished single malt, it provides the heart of the Johnnie Walker blend. This is one of the smaller distilleries and very charming. In Knockando.
The only distillery on Skye, it’s been producing a highly-respected malt since 1830. Tours last 40 minutes and are bright and informative. Plus, you’re on Skye…
Though definitely among the greats, it’s not the most famous whisky, but it does have the best tour. They’re remote--they try harder. Prepare to be taken through deep piles of malt drying in a delicious reek of peat. In Kirkwall, Orkney.