Whisky, Beer & Gin
Strathallan Guest House in Grantown on Spey is in the perfect location to explore some of the fine Speyside distilleries along the Whisky Trail. There are a variety of whisky distilleries to visit within driving distance from Grantown on Spey. You can either organise a tour, hire a taxi or why not make the most of the sampling kits you can fill up during each visit to a distillery and drive, then enjoy your samples when you return.
Here are just a few distilleries you could visit while staying at Strathallan Guest House. There are so many in the area, but just not enough time to talk about them all.
Glenfarclas – This is one of the few remaining family-owned distilleries and is one of the more unusual ones to visit. It was bought by the Grant family in 1865 and was one of the few distilleries to continue producing whisky during the 1980’s when whisky production in the area dropped. Enjoy learning more about the family history surrounding this distillery and take time to sample some excellent single malts. Why not peruse their older vintages and if you really want to treat yourself a bottle we were looking at from the 1970’s was only £2,000.
Benromach – This distillery can by found in the busy town of Forres and has an interesting history. Originally founded in 1898, but due to the depression didn’t start producing whisky until 1900. There were many other financial and social problems that then caused the distillery to close and it was mothballed in 1983. Luckily is was bought in 1993 and by 2004 Benromach finally starting bottling, with the help of Prince Charles.
Strathisla – A very pretty distillery in the small highland town of Keith. The building is beautiful and there are some lovely photo opportunities to be had. It is only one of a few distilleries that has continuously operated even through the depression. Built near the river Isla where they also source some of the water for their whisky too.
Macallan – Founded in 1824 this distillery is renowned for its use of cherry oak casks and unusually small stills to produce some of the most popular and iconic whisky varieties on offer in the Speyside region. Situated in Craigellachie, near Aberlour, the beautiful estate offers an amazing look into how they produce their award winning malts. Booking in advance is highly advisable.
Cardhu – Was started by a husband and wife whisky smugglers in 1824 and was very much owned and operated by Mrs Elizabeth Cummings who would sell whisky to passers by out the window of their farmhouse. This distillery is almost museum like, with lots of antiquities and information regarding other local distilleries too.
Glenlivet – There is a beautiful drive to the the Glenlivest estate from Strathallan, taking in some stunning scenery along the way. This is one of the largest producers of whisky in the region and the recently refurbished visitor and history centre will give you all of the information you need on this wonderful whisky. There are also some lovely walking routes on the estate, including a smugglers trail and you can get maps and information from the Glenlivet visitor centre.
Speyside Cooperage – While at Strathallan Guest House you could also visit the Speyside Cooperage. Only 30 minutes’ drive from Grantown on Spey in Craigellachie. The cooperage has been preparing whisky barrels since 1947 and you can watch as they make the barrels ready to go to the local distilleries. This is a lovely addition to a whisky tour if you are in the area.
Sometimes you just want to sample all of drams of whisky you can. The problem is driving and whisky don’t mix and you may not want to be the designated driver. There are some tour operators that offer driven guided tours of distilleries in the area. Our advice is to always book ahead. There is always the option of taking a taxi too, as some firms offer taxi tours, but please book in advance and confirm a price up-front.
Moray Firth Tours – This friendly and professional company offer private transport and bespoke tours. Why not discover the area in the comfort of an 8 seater Mercedes Vito with leather seating and air conditioning too. Their new website will be up and running soon. But please use the form on their current site to contact them for more information.
Guvnors tours – Offering friendly guided driven tours of distilleries in the Speyside region. This friendly guide can also design a tour to suit you, why not also ask about their historic and scenic tours as well.
Scottish Routes – This friendly and professional company offer a variety of different tour options in the region and their specialist guides are some of the most knowledgeable around. Why not give them a call and remember to tell them you are staying with us!
Whisky may be the big hitter in the Highlands but don’t forget to check out the great Cairngorm Brewery only 20 minutes away in Aviemore. Enjoy a tour, have a taste and buy some bottles to take home afterwards. Don’t forget to pre-book your tour as it can get extremely busy during the summer season.
It is easy to forget that Scotland produces over 70%f the gin made in the UK. That is because here in the Highlands we have an abundance of wild Juniper berries and other wonderful, naturally growing botanicals that small batch distillers in the Speyside area are making the most beautiful gins from.
Caorunn – Book ahead for an amazing tour. Guests on the Caorunn Gin Tour will gain an insight into our artisanal production process through a privileged behind-the-scenes tour of our production area. After the guided tour you will then experience the unique opportunity to enjoy a tutored deconstructed nosing and tasting session. Each session features Caorunn’s five locally foraged and six traditional botanicals and botanical essences.
Monday and Wednesday: tours running at 10.30am and 2.00pm
Tuesday and Thursday: one tour running at 11.00am
Friday: one tour running at 10.00am
Crossbill – A small batch producer of fine gin, using juniper berries picked locally in the Caledonia pine forests that surround this wonderful ‘shed of gin’. If you want to visit you MUST contact them directly as they are not open to the public on a daily basis.