When people talk about whisky, the first destination that immediately comes to mind is Scotland. There are four whisky-producing regions in Scotland, namely, The Highlands, the Lowlands, Isle of Islay and Campbeltown, with Speyside being recognized as a distinct region as well. The region where a whisky is made has a huge influence on its flavour-- with everything from the source of the water to the source of the peat in the local area impacting its taste.
Whisky tourism in Scotland is an eye-opening experience for the aficionado as well as for those new to the world of Scotch. Here are some distilleries that are worth a visit:
- Campbell Distillers
A Glasgow-based whisky blending and bottling company, Campbell distillers, boast of the famous Clan Campbell blended Scotch whiskies. These distillers have faced a number of name changes over the years. In 1933, a wine shipper turned whisky merchant by the name of Rosenbloom changed his name to Ross. But as the company was based in Campbell House, he decided to adopt that name instead. In 1974 Campbells was bought over by Pernod Ricard and when the House of Campbell merged with wine shipper J.R. Parkington in 1988, the new company came to be known as Campbell Distillers.
- Strathclyde grain distillery
Primarily set up as a neutral grain spirit distillery for making gin, Strathclyde is one of Glasgow’s most flourishing grain distilleries. Known to be the only grain distillery in Scotland in the Gorbals district in Glasgow, it is located on the site of an old cotton mill. Built in 1927 by Seager Evans, it mainly supplied neutral grain spirit for its gins. In 1936, Seager Evans made the move towards Scotch production with the purchase of the Long John brand. Today, Strathclyde mostly produces grain whisky for use in brands like Ballantine’s.
- Chivas Brothers Holdings
Located in Paisley, near Glasgow, Chivas Brothers heads 14 malt distilleries in Scotland. Well known for its Chivas Regal and Ballantine’s blended Scotches, the company’s biggest sellers are The Glenlivet and Aberlour. Chivas Brothers’ history can be traced back to Aberdeen in 1801 when John Forrest founded a grocery and wine merchants. In 1909 Chivas Regal was launched as a luxury blend. Today, Chivas Brothers is the second-largest Scotch whisky company after Diageo.
Founded in 1897 by Thomas Mackenzie, a co-owner of Daluaine and Talisker, the former Imperial Distillery lay on the banks of the River Spey in Carron, Speyside. Once a single malt distillery, Imperial funneled off all its production to blends like Teacher’s, Ballantine’s and Old Smuggler. After having been bought over by Pernod Ricard in 2014, it faced a makeover, making it one of the newest and most current distilleries to date. Today known as Dalmunach, the refurbishment was supervised by former Chivas Brothers production director Douglas Cruickshank, who began his career at the Imperial Distillery aged 15. The design is such that it complements the surrounding environment and infrastructure.
- Scapa Distillery
Located in the mainland of Orkney and built by blender John Townsend, Scapa is the only distillery to use a Lomond still to create whisky. These stills were designed in the late 1950s in an attempt to create various different flavours from a single pot. The result of the Lomond style-still is one of the lushest new blends in Scotland, creating a character that is enhanced by maturation in American oak and refill casks. The end of the 19th century saw three distilleries operational at Orkney – Highland Park, Stromness, and from 1885, Scapa. In 2005 it became part of the Pernod Ricard stable.