One of the chief attractions in Scotland are the many distilleries scattered across the luscious green countryside and rocky terrain, containing within them the secrets of the spirit of the Gods, and the centuries of history attached to them.
Whisky making is a tradition ingrained within the Scottish way of life, and these distilleries represent a pilgrimage for whisky lovers worldwide. Spread across the breadth of the country, Scotland is divided into five regions; The Highlands, The Lowlands, The Speyside, Islay and Campbeltown, and these regions determine the nature of Scotch whiskies produced within them.
Distillery tours have long fascinated leisurely tourists, and religiously devoted whisky aficionados to make their way to their favorite distilleries and bask in the glory of the walls that have helped Scotch whisky for centuries.
Iconic distilleries such as The Glenlivet, The Strathisla, and the Laphroaig among many others have been around since the 1800s, and have quite the story to tell. Whether you are in the Scottish mainland for recreation, or have exclusively vowed to visit your favorite distilleries, these are some of Scotland’s most breathtaking and historically significant distilleries you must visit.
The Glenlivet Distillery – one of the oldest functioning distilleries, and the oldest distillery in the parish of Glenlivet, this Speyside distillery is produces The Glenlivet single malt. One of the world’s largest selling single malt Scotch whiskies in the world, the brand was founded by George Smith who ran an illicit distillery until the Excise Act of 1843 allowed him to obtain a license.
This made The Glenlivet Distillery, established in 1824, the first licensed distillery in the Speyside region. The single malt is credited with being the single malt that started it all, and tourists and visitors are offered a comprehensive tour of this historic building. The Distillery houses 7 unique lantern shaped stills with narrow necks that help produce the excellent single malt whisky.
The Strathisla Distillery – Another historic distillery in the Highlands region of Scotland, it was established in 1786 making it one of the oldest functioning distilleries in the region. The Strathisla Distillery supplies source whiskies for Chivas Regal blends, one of the world’s most popular blended Scotch whiskies.
Distillery tours at the Strathisla allow visitors to experience the joy of understanding whisky making, and about the unique history of the building that has withstood the test of time, churning out single malt whiskies that are desired by millions of whisky lovers all over the world.
The Old Pulteney Distillery – At one point in history, the Old Pulteney Distillery was located at the northernmost point of mainland Scotland, and was only accessible by sea in the early years. Established in 1826, it is not only one of the oldest distilleries in the country but also has one of the most interesting stories to tell.
Since the Distillery was accessible only by sea, many workers at the Old Pulteney Distillery worked as fishermen too. The Old Pulteney faced closure for nearly two decades after the local parish enforced prohibition but it soon came back alive in 1951. Distillery tours are available but it is advisable to go on weekdays for a full and thorough experience since the distillery does not function fully on Saturdays and is shut on Sundays.
The Laphroaig Distillery – Located on the Isle of Islay, Laphroaig is one of the oldest distilleries on the island. It was established in 1815 and produces one of the most divisive Scotch whiskies in Scotland
It is also the distillery to have had a female distillery manager, Bessie Williamson, who helped promote the brand and took it to new heights. The Laphroaig distillery is right next to the Lagavulin distillery, but its taste has remained a mystery and so has the process of how to achieve it. The Laphroaig distillery was also used as a barracks and place to store ammunition during the World War II.
Glenmorangie Distillery – Home to the tallest stills in all of Scotland, the Glenmorangie Distillery is located in Tain, Ross-Shire. It was established in 1843 by William Matheson, and is categorized as a Highlands distillery.
The Glenmorangie distillery has been home to the ‘Sixteen Men of Tain’, a legendary group of sixteen men who worked at the distillery all year round except for Christmas and days of maintenance. The company offers two comprehensive tours of the distillery wherein visitors can explore the facilities and taste some of their finest single malts.