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

Whisky Tour in Scotland: Distilleries, Landscapes and Scottish Humour

In Europe, Inspiration, UK by Jurga13 Comments

UISGE-BEATHA. These were the first words my husband said to me after exploring the Scottish Speyside region on a 3-day Scottish whisky tour. I wondered if he had too much whisky, 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 whisky… Apparently he had lots of fun in Scotland!

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 whisky tour off his bucket list and tell us all about it.

And while a whisky tour is not a typical experience for a family travel blog, I still want to share this with you. Parents deserve a little break from the kids once in a while, and so maybe this will inspire you to take a short trip to Scotland without the kids.

Speyside whisky trail 3-day tour from Edinburgh in Scotland. Visit the most famous single malt whisky distilleries, landmarks, and much more. Find out!

 

3 – Day Whisky Tour in Scotland from Edinburgh

Making a whisky tour in Scotland had been on my bucket list for a long time. But I couldn’t imagine visiting a whisky 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 organised tour. I didn’t want to sit on a bus with 50 other tourists though, and Jurga (the travel planner at home) found a beautiful 3-day Speyside Whisky Trail tour with a small group starting from Edinburgh.

Just to make things clear from the start – this tour was not sponsored in any way. We chose Rabbie’s because of their impeccable reputation and specialised 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. Click on the image below for their amazing selection!


Highland Tours with Rabbie's Trail Burners

Speyside Whisky Trail: 3 day itinerary

In this Scottish whisky tour itinerary I describe most of the distilleries and landmarks that we visited during the three days in Speyside. So you could probably follow this itinerary and make a self-drive whiskey tour in Scotland. But I strongly recommend not to do this, unless you have a designated driver who doesn’t drink at all. Give yourself a break, relax, and enjoy this Scottish whisky 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 whisky 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 whisky trail

 

DAY 1: Edinburgh – Dunkeld – Dalwhinnie

We started our 3-day whisky tour from Edinburgh, where we joined a small international group of whisky 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 whisky 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 Edinburgh

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 savoury 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 whisky stop! We visited Dalwhinnie, the highest whisky 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

Whisky 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 humour, 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.

Ruthven barracks in Scotland

Ruthven barracks

 

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

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 and eggs… Benromach distillery, here we come.

We did the tour of this nice small-scale distillery where we learned everything about the whisky 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 colour of whisky. We also learned about the ‘angels’ share’ (the whisky that evaporates during the making process) and the effect of adding a small drop of water to the whisky (definitely no Cola please!).

After the visit we could of course taste the great whisky. And it was still morning! There has to be a first time for everything. It was only after tasting the whisky that I noticed that David was wearing jeans today instead of his kilt. So I concluded that whisky 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 whisky, 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 whiskies. 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 whisky 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 whisky 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 whisky, and there was also a possibility to taste four kinds of Super Premium Range whiskeys for 1,250 £. They also had the most expensive whisky bottle we saw on this tour. Don’t fall of your chair – 26,750 £.

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 whisky 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 whisky tour was The Whisky Castle in Tomintoul, a family-run whisky 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 whisky 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

 

Speyside Whisky Trail – conclusion

We really enjoyed this short whisky tour of Scotland. As expected, we discovered some really nice whisky distilleries, but we also traveled through the most amazing landscapes, and visited a variety of landmarks. So this tour is not just about the whisky! 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 whisky 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 whisky tour was just perfect!

Speyside Whisky Trail practical information:

  • Speyside Whisky Trail tour departs from Edinburgh three times a week in summer months and once a week in October. Rabbie’s also offers several other whisky tours in Scotland, including 1 day tours from Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Inverness.
  • This Scottish whisky tour takes three full days, starting at 9AM on day 1, and ending at 6-7PM (depending on the traffic) on day 3. So you will need to book a hotel in Edinburgh for the night before and the night after the tour.
  • You can book this whisky tour with or without the accommodation. If you decide to book just the tour, 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. There are some really nice centrally located B&B’s you can choose from. Here you can find the best deals for Grantown on Spey accommodation.
Glenfiddich distillery

Whisky bar at the Glenfiddich distillery

 

This is how your Scottish whisky tour itinerary would look like:

  • Day 0: Arrival in Edinburgh. Stay 1 night in Edinburgh.
  • Day 1: Start of Speyside Whisky Trail. Stay 2 nights in Grantown on Spey.
  • Day 2: Whisky tour. Same accommodation as last night.
  • Day 3: Last day of the whisky tour. Arrival in Edinburgh the evening. Stay 1 night in Edinburgh.
  • Day 4: Departure or continue your trip and explore more of Scotland.

Tip: Scotland (and especially Edinburgh) is extremely popular in warmer months, so make sure to book your accommodation as soon as possible. You can find the best deals for Edinburgh accommodation here.

Disclaimer: While our whisky tour tour wasn’t sponsored, this post contains affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, we get a small commission if you book a tour or a hotel using these links. Thanks!

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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!


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Whisky Tour in Scotland: Distilleries, Landscapes and Scottish Humour was last modified: June 15th, 2017 by Jurga

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Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. Thanks for the detailed tips. I’ve never been to Scotland, but it’s one of my husband’s favorite places. Hopefully we can go one day soon and have an adventure like this whiskey tasting experience.

  5. I’ve long heard about Scotland but this place is so amazing! It basically has everything you need. Whisky, food and the great scenery!

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