The Glenlivet Distillery - one of the best stops during our 3-day Scottish whisky tour

Scotland Whisky Tour from Edinburgh: Review, Itinerary & Tips

In Travel inspiration, Trip itineraries, UK by JurgaThis post may contain affiliate links, which means that we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. More info: Disclosure.

Are you thinking of taking a whisky tour in Scotland, but not sure what to expect or which tour to choose? My husband is passionate about Scottish whisky and recently he did a Scotland whisky tour from Edinburg. In this article, he shares his whisky tour itinerary and first-hand experiences. Find out!

UISGE-BEATHA. These were the first words my husband said to me after exploring the Scottish Speyside region on a 3-day whisky tour in Scotland. I wondered if he had too much whiskey, but then he proudly explained that it meant ‘Water of Life‘ in Scottish Gaelic. And then he told me about the fairies that turn into sheep, Edinburgh penguins, and an angels’ share of whiskey… Apparently, he had lots of fun on this Scottish whiskey tour.

So I asked him if he could share his experience from the Speyside Whisky Trail for my blog. He was happy to finally cross the Scottish whiskey tour off his bucket list and tell us all about it. Whiskey is a huge part of Scottish culture and going on a distillery tour is such a great way to get to know this beautiful country.

 

Good to know: In this article, we share a detailed itinerary of our 3-day whiskey tour, exactly as we did it. At the bottom of the article, you can also find a short itinerary overview with practical tips and accommodation recommendations. Read on!

TIP: If you don’t have the time to read the whole article and are just looking for the best whiskey tour starting from Edinburg, here you can book the tour that we did and recommend.

You can also book the same tour via GetYourGuide, our favorite website for booking tours and activities worldwide.

Scotland Whiskey Tour from Edinburgh
 

Why Take an Organized Whisky Tour

Making a whisky tour in Scotland had been on my bucket list for a long time. However, I couldn’t imagine visiting a whiskey country without enjoying a dram here and there. And drinking and driving didn’t seem like a good idea…

So this was one of the occasions to consider an organized tour. I didn’t want to sit on a bus with 50 other tourists though. After some thorough research, we found this beautiful 3-day Speyside Whisky Trail tour with a small group starting from Edinburgh. It turned out to be an excellent choice and I’d do it again in a heartbeat!

Just to make things clear from the start – this tour was not sponsored. We chose Rabbie’s because of their impeccable reputation and specialized tours that travel deeper, go off the beaten path, and show you more than you would be able to discover on your own. They have a great selection of all kinds of small-group tours in England, Ireland, and Scotland, so it’s definitely worth taking a look for some travel inspiration.

 

Scotland Whiskey Tour: 3-day Itinerary from Edinburgh

This Scottish whiskey tour itinerary includes a detailed description of our trip. I share all the details about the distilleries and landmarks that we visited during the three days in the Speyside region.

So you could probably follow this itinerary and make your own self-drive whiskey tour in Scotland. However, I strongly advise not to do this, unless you have a designated driver who doesn’t drink at all. Give yourself a break, relax, and enjoy a Scottish whiskey tour with a tour guide.

Distillery tours are also easier to do when arranged in advance. You can take advantage of the group rates and you don’t have to feel obliged to buy any whiskey if you don’t feel like (which is usually difficult to do if you show up there on your own).

Scottish landscape on the Speyside Whiskey Tour in Scotland
Scottish landscapes along the whiskey trail
 

DAY 1: Edinburgh – Dunkeld – Dalwhinnie

We started our 3-day whiskey tour in Edinburgh, where we joined a small international group of whiskey enthusiasts. With just 9 people in a nice Mercedes minibus that could fit 16, this was going to be a comfortable trip. Our little group was very diverse: people came from Japan, Argentina, South Korea, and us, from Belgium.

David was our tour guide, driver, music arranger and, last but not least, joke and history teller (sometimes not sure which was which), and he showed up very appropriately in his Scottish Kilt.

And so our Sottish whiskey adventure began…

Right after leaving Edinburgh, we made a first short photo stop at the impressive three Forth Bridges towards the Kingdom of Fife and the Cairngorms National Park.

The Forth Bridge Edinburg
The Forth Bridge
 

As expected, the Scottish landscape was very green, wide and open and filled with sheep. While we watched the beautiful landscape pass by, our guide explained that Scotland has more than 30,000 lakes or Lochs (one containing a well-known monster) and some 18 million sheep. He said that there were only 5.5 million people living in Scotland and yet the Scots had invented everything there is – from rubber tires to Sean Connery.

I will not share all the Scottish jokes our guide told us along the way, so you have something fun to look forward to if you take the tour.

Our next stop was in Dunkeld where we visited the cathedral by the riverside; a very romantic setting. Other highlights included The Hermitage in DunkeldBlack Linn Falls, and Tay Forest Park in Highland Perthshire.

Dunkeld Cathedral in Scotland
Dunkeld Cathedral
 

We stopped for lunch in Pitlochry, where we just had to try the famous Haggis (a savory pudding containing sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs…) – it was surprisingly good!

You really have to try Haggis when in Scotland
You really have to try Haggis when in Scotland
 

By now it was high time for our first whiskey stop! We visited Dalwhinnie, the highest whiskey distillery in Scotland. After an interesting guided tour around the distillery, we were happy to taste several drams of great ‘water of life’.

Whisky tasting on Dalwhinnie distillery tour in Scotland
Whiskey tasting in Dalwhinnie distillery
 

We then made a short photo stop at the Geographical Centre of Scotland before heading to Ruthven Barracks.

After all this culture and history the guide had a little surprise for us: we would go for a beer tasting in Aviemore’s Cairngorm Brewery. With Belgians on the tour that was a risky experiment, but we were impressed by the collection of Scottish beers at the brewery and the wall-filling collection of prizes and awards.

If you like Scottish humor, you will appreciate the philosophy on the walls ‘Men are from Mars, women are from Visa’, ‘No brain, no headache’, ‘I only have a kitchen because it came with a house’.. to name but a few.

We then made a last photo stop at Loch Garten before arriving in Grantown on Spey and our hotel for the next two nights.

Ruthven barracks in Scotland
Ruthven Barracks
 

DAY 2: Benromach – Findhorn – Elgin – Gordon MacPhail – Glenfiddich – Cardhu

David had warned us that we would start the day with a visit to a distillery, so we made sure to have a good strong Scottish breakfast with haggis, black pudding, bacon & eggs… Benromach distillery, here we come.

We did the tour of this nice small-scale distillery where we learned everything about the whiskey maturing process, the barley, the malting, the importance of spring water and yeasts, peat, different types of casks and the effect these have on the taste and color of whiskey.

We also learned about the ‘angels’ share’ (the whiskey that evaporates during the making process) and the effect of adding a small drop of water to the whiskey (definitely no Cola please!).

After the visit, we could, of course, taste the great whiskey. And it was still morning! There has to be a first time for everything. It was only after tasting the whiskey that I noticed that David was wearing jeans today instead of his kilt. So I concluded that whiskey sharpens your senses.

Our 3-day Scottish whisky tour from Edinburg
Benromach Distillery
 

After Benromach distillery we stopped at Sueno’s (Pictish) stone for 10 minutes. We all agreed that this was enough culture for the day.

On to the beach at Findhorn to let the wind blow through our hair. This was a place where I could sit for hours and just watch the beautiful stones and hear the waves roll. But this was a whiskey tour, and not a Scottish landscape tour, so off we went again.

Findhorn Beach in Scotland
Findhorn Beach
 

Our next stop was Elgin, where we visited the famous Gordon & MacPhail whisky retail shop which stocks around 1000 (!) different single malt whiskeys. We could sample some in the Whisky Room.

Elgin is also home to the beautiful ruins of a cathedral, so we made a short walk around the cathedral before stopping for lunch in Dufftown, aka the malt whiskey capital of the world.

Elgin Cathedral in Scotland
Elgin Cathedral
 

Later in the afternoon we enjoyed a nice Cullen Skink (typical Scottish fish soup) at the Glenfiddich whiskey distillery and walked up to the ruins of Balvennie Castle.

Glenfiddich distillery is not to be missed on any whisky tour in Scotland
Glenfiddich distillery
Balvennie Castle in Scotland
Balvennie Castle
 

At the Glenfiddich distillery, you could create your own exclusive whiskey. And there was also a possibility to taste four kinds of Super Premium Range whiskeys for 1,250 £.

They also had the most expensive whiskey bottle we saw on this tour. Don’t fall off your chair – 26,750 £. For one bottle.

A very exclusive expensive whisky in Scotland
Can you imagine paying that much money for a bottle of whisky?!
 

We also visited Cardhu distillery and a place where they make/repair the whiskey casks. We could observe the coopers performing their heavy, but highly skilled work. Really impressive how they roll these heavy casks! Another beautiful stop was at the Craigellachie Bridge.

Craigellachie Bridge in Scotland
Craigellachie Bridge
 

DAY 3: The Glenlivet – The Whisky Castle – Royal Lochnagar – Edinburgh

Our first distillery visit today was at The Glenlivet estate. If you know the Glenlivet, you probably have seen this little bridge on the logo, and we could see it right here. A beautiful place!

The Glenlivet Bridge is not to be missed on any Scotland whisky trip
The Glenlivet Bridge – same as their whisky logo
 

The next stop on this last day of our Scottish whiskey tour was The Whisky Castle in Tomintoul, a family-run whiskey retail business with over 500 malt whiskeys to taste. And before you ask, no, we didn’t taste them all.

Royal Lochnagar distillery, next to Balmoral Castle (the summer residence of the British Royal Family), was our last whiskey stop of the tour.

After a short photo stop at the castle and lunch in Braemar, we drove back to Edinburgh. Normally we should have been there in 2.5 hours, but due to busy traffic, we arrived at 7 PM instead of 6 PM. So keep this in mind if you would be planning to depart Edinburgh right after the tour.

Beautiful green Scottish landcapes during our whisky tour in Scotland
Beautiful landscapes along the road
 

Scottish Whisky Tour – Conclusion

We really enjoyed this short whiskey tour in Scotland. As expected, we discovered some really nice whiskey distilleries, but we also traveled through the most amazing landscapes and visited a variety of landmarks.

This tour is not just about the whiskey!

It has a very well-balanced itinerary that gives you a taste of real Scotland, one you would not easily be able to discover on your own.

I would definitely recommend Rabbie’s Speyside Whisky Trail to all Scottish whiskey enthusiasts. As for us, we will be back in Scotland. Next time with the kids, to do some hiking and discover the beautiful Highlands. But for a short, adults-only trip to Scotland, this whiskey tour was just perfect!

Practical Information

  • Speyside Whisky Trail tour (the same as we did) departs from Edinburgh three times a week in summer months and once a week in October. Rabbie’s also offers many other whiskey tours in Scotland, including 1-day tours from Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Inverness. You can find your perfect whiskey tour and book it here.
  • The Scottish whiskey tour described in this post takes three full days, starting at 9 AM on day 1, and ending at 6-7 PM (depending on the traffic) on day 3. So you will need to also book a hotel in Edinburgh for the night before and the night after the tour.
  • You can book this whiskey tour with or without the accommodation for two nights during the tour. We opted for the option without accommodation, which turned out to be much cheaper. If you decide to book just the tour, as we did, you will need to arrange your own accommodation for 2 nights in Grantown on Spey in the Cairngorms National Park. Make sure that it’s centrally located and let Rabbie’s know where you are staying. They will drop you off at your hotel or B&B in the evening and will pick you up again in the morning.

Below, you can see our whiskey tour itinerary, including hotels where we stayed.

Glenfiddich distillery
Whiskey bar at the Glenfiddich distillery
 

Scotland Whisky Tour Itinerary

  • Day 2: Whiskey tour. Same accommodation as last night.
  • Day 3: Last day of the Scottish whiskey tour. Arrival in Edinburgh in the evening. Stay 1 night in Edinburgh. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Edinburgh City Center because it was close to where our tour ended and one of the few available hotels in the center.
  • Day 4: Departure or continue your trip and explore more of Scotland.

TIP: Scotland (and especially Edinburgh) is an extremely popular destination. If you are traveling in high season (April-October), make sure to book all your accommodations as soon as possible. We waited too long and hardly found anything available in Edinburgh center, the same for Grantown on Spey.

READ ALSO: Isle of Skye Itinerary (not to be missed in Scotland!)

So, this is our guide for a Scotland whisky tour. Thinking of doing a similar trip and have a question? Leave a reply below and we’ll try to help.

More inspiration for your trip to England:

If you found this post useful, don’t forget to bookmark it and share it with your friends. Are you on Pinterest? Pin this image!

3- day whisky tour itinerary for Speyside region in Scotland. Visit Glenfiddich, the Glenlivet, and many other whisky distilleries. Discover the most famous landmarks and stunning landscapes of Scotland!
Speyside whisky trail 3-day tour from Edinburg in Scotland. Visit the most famous single malt whisky distilleries, landmarks, and much more. Find out!
 

Comments

  1. This tour sounds like such a typical Scottish thing to do, will check it out for next summer!

    1. Author

      My husband wants to go back and do another whisky tour in Scotland, he said it was one of the best tours ever. If you like nature and whisky, I’m sure you’ll love it, Nina.

      1. Thanks for your sharing! Do you need to pay extra entry fee & whisky tasting fee at each distillery?

        1. Author

          Hi Susan, I had to ask my husband and he doesn’t recall the specifics for each place. He said that entrance and the distillery tour were usually free of charge and often also at one tasting was included. But there were also places where they had to pay, especially if different tasting options were available. It wasn’t really expensive, though. The biggest cost is buying the whiskey if you decide to 😉
          Hope this helps.

  2. Thanks for this! We were thinking of renting a car, but after reading this I think we will first do the whisky tour and then rent a car for the rest of the trip.

    1. Author

      It’s definitely a much better idea to take a tour than rent a car! Whiskey and driving is not the best idea. Enjoy it!

  3. Do you know if there’s any age restriction for this whiskey tour?

    1. Author

      Hi Elaine, from what I see, they don’t take kids under 5 on any of the tours, but for the rest, there are no restrictions for the tour itself. There might be age restrictions at the distilleries, probably 18 years (official data I found for Scotland).

  4. Thanks for the detailed tips and all the info. I’ve never been to Scotland, but it’s one of my husband’s favorite places. He wants us to go on a whiskey tour this summer, but I was not sure what to expect. After reading this I think that I’ll actually enjoy it as well. 🙂

    1. Author

      Thanks, Jessica. Glad you found this useful. I’m sure you’ll love it. It’s such a beautiful country and whiskey is just a part of all you get to see (and taste).

  5. I’m not a big fan of whiskey but, the photos alone would make this trip worth it. Although if I did partake in the sampling I would think that by the end my photos would be getting a little blurry and not as crisp as the ones at the start. But, that would prove you had a great trip in Scotland!

    1. Author

      🙂 Don’t know about the effect whisky has on photography, but I am with you this one – Scotland is definitely worth a trip!

  6. Do you know if they also have a shorter version of this tour?

  7. Fairies that turn into sheep? How many whiskeys’s did he taste? I am not a big fan of whisky until recently and I think that might be due to having it so much. Scotland is such a beautiful place and I really like your pictures. I would definitely be keen to add a whisky tour to my next trip to Scotland.

    1. Author

      You made me laugh, Melissa! Ok, here is the story. Apparently, there are fairies all around us, but we can’t see them. When we look at one, they quickly turn into sheep. And before you ask, no, I haven’t had any whisky. 🙂
      Anyway, Scotland does look beautiful! I haven’t been there for ages, would love to go back and explore more. And my husband’s pictures and stories convinced me we have to go soon!

  8. This is my husband’s dream tour of Scotland! Via as many distilleries as possible! He has visited quite a few but would not say no to a 3 day dedicated tour!! As a non whisky drinker I think a few days sightseeing and shopping in Edinburgh would be more up my street ?

    1. Author

      🙂 That’s exactly the reason why this was guys’ trip, Tracy, as I am not a whisky fan either. But apparently there were a couple of women on the tour as well. And now that I see all the other places they visited, I think I would have enjoyed it just as much. It’s not like you’re obliged to drink, can just listen to the jokes and the stories, take pictures, and admire the stunning landscapes.

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