Scotland Whisky Tours: Where to visit and how to get there
Visiting a distillery is the perfect way to learn about the most famous Scottish export from the experts. You get the opportunity to see every stage of the process which brings a new appreciation to the skill involved. Scotland whisky tours are a must-do activity whilst visiting these bonnie lands. In addition to the tour, there is, of course, the tasting of the whisky which is absolutely essential. Here, we will take you through booking a whisky tour and all the distilleries you can visit by train from Edinburgh, Glasgow or Inverness – no designated driver necessary!
Organised Whisky Tour | Visit Distilleries by Yourself
Edinburgh Whisky Tours | Eden Mill | Annandale | Blair Athol | Dalwhinnie
Glasgow Whisky Tours | Clydeside | Auchentoshan | Glasgow Distillery | Oban | Ben Nevis
Inverness Whisky Tours | Glen Ord | Benromach | Glen Moray | The Dalmore | Strathisla | Glenmorangie | Clynelish | Wolfburn | Old Pulteney
Taking an Organised Whisky Tour
Tasting whisky on your trip to Scotland is as much a given as the fact that it will rain. You can arrange your tour by yourself, but sometimes it’s nicer to let someone else do the hard work for you. Plus, it allows you to concentrate on what really matters: the great whisky!
When it comes to arranging Scotland whisky tours, there is a myriad of options available to you – it just depends on what you’re looking for. You will find everything from a tutored tasting at a Whisky Bar to several days touring the distilleries of a whisky region in Scotland. And pretty much everything in between.
The multi-day, multi-distillery tours are for the whisky lovers; for those who want to learn the nuances between distilleries and taste the subtle differences in the whisky. All distilleries work in roughly the same manner but if you want to learn how whisky is made before you go, check out our article here. On the other hand, if you’re just interested in seeing the inner workings of a distillery and doing a bit of tasting then you’ll probably be happy enough visiting just one distillery.
Tours can be done as a part-day, full-day or included in a multi-day trip where you also visit some other parts of Scotland. Check out the options below from Get Your Guide and pick the one that suits you best – there are even more on their website too.
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Visiting Distilleries by Yourself
If you’re more of a DIY tourist there are lots of options for Scotland whisky tours. Many also have visitor centres for those just passing by. However, not every distillery offers this service so be sure to check the website of the one nearest to you to see if they do tours.
Below we’ve outlined distilleries that offer whisky tours that you can reach on your own, by train, as driving to one is no fun. All these distilleries are within 30 minutes walk from the train station and are open for visitors. It’s possible to visit each one in a day – although a couple would be a long day! There is also no need for buses, ferries or taxis, so very straightforward.
Almost everyone who visits Scotland will visit Edinburgh – with good reason. The nation’s capital has so much to offer in terms of food, history and culture. For taking part in Scotland whisky tours, you are in the right place as many are accessible directly from Edinburgh’s city centre. The main train station, Waverley, is just off the Royal Mile in the heart of the city and is a stunning piece of architecture in its own right. If you are travelling north from Edinburgh, many of the trains will travel over the historic and iconic Forth Rail Bridge. Whilst you sit back and relax, you can enjoy amazing views of the other two bridges.
Glasgow can be reached from Edinburgh in 1 hour 20 minutes, so it is also possible to explore several of the Glasgow distilleries when staying in Edinburgh.
Just 20 minutes walk from Leuchars train station is the Eden Mill brewery and distillery. They also make gin and beer here, so it’s a great option if not everyone in your group is into whisky. This is one of the newer distilleries in Scotland, recently releasing their first Single Malt.
Leuchars is the main train station for St. Andrews. And, if you visit on a Sunday, The Old Course is open for people to walk around freely – as long as the weather decides to be nice.
Time from Edinburgh: 1 hour
Price: Currently only running virtual tours/ tastings due to Covid-19 restrictions. However, once fully re-opened, prices started at £10 per person for the basic tour. Gin blending and other experiences are also available.
Annandale is another new distillery that has only recently released its first Single Malt. To visit, you have to get the train to Carlisle and then change trains but, once you get there, it offers a wide range of tour options depending on your specific interest. As a newer distillery, they offer a different perspective into the world of Scottish Whisky.
Train Station: Annan
Price: Tours start at £15 per person for the “classic tour”. However, they also offer a “technical tour” for those who really want to get into the distilling process and get a tour from the owner. Currently, all tours must be booked in advance and they’re running on reduced hours.
Blair Athol distillery is a short walk through the town of Pitlochry. It is the home of Bell’s Blended Whisky as well as Blair Athol single malt. So there are tours for single malt and blended whisky fans. As part of Diageo’s “Flora and Fauna’ range, the Blair Athol single malt is slightly harder to get hold of than other whiskies. They only open for tours at specific times of the year so it’s very important to check ahead.
Train Station: Pitlochry
Price: Tours start at £16 per person and currently must be booked ahead.
Meaning “the meeting place” in Gaelic, Dalwhinnie is located on the edge of the Cairngorms and is the highest distillery in Scotland. If you’re after a remote, scenic distillery this is the one for you. There are direct trains from Edinburgh, though not all that frequent so definitely plan your return in advance!
Train Station: Dalwhinnie
Time from Edinburgh: 2 hours 20 mins (if taking a direct train)
Scotland’s largest city is an ideal base for exploring the rest of the country in addition to the culture, shopping and nightlife on offer. Glasgow Queen Street station handles most of the trains heading North so is the most important station when it comes to taking Scotland Whisky Tours in the distilleries of the Highlands. This is also the start of the West Highland Line, which is the most scenic train line in Scotland – probably in the whole of the UK.
Queen Street station is located just off George Square, near the statue of the Duke of Wellington. He’s the one with the traffic cone on his head!
Clydeside Distillery is actually within the city of Glasgow, making it one of the easiest distilleries to get to. It is only 7 minutes by train from Queen Street. You can also take the subway – or “the clockwork orange” as it’s known locally – for a truly Glaswegian experience. The distillery is located near Kelvingrove Art Gallery and enjoys great views across the River Clyde.
Train Station: Partick
Price: Starting at £15 for a tour which includes 3 drams. Or, for £120, you can splash for one of the top-notch Scotland whisky tours given by the distillery manager which includes a tasting of their speciality whiskies.
Note: Currently tours are not available due to the pandemic.
Auchentoshan is only a short journey up the Clyde to the North-West of the city. Their malt is triple distilled – as they will tell you multiple times. This is more common in Irish whiskey and produces a very smooth Lowland style. Auchentoshan has a long history and, compared to the newer distilleries, has a very wide selection of malts matured and ready to taste. This is one of our favourite whiskies for beginners as it has a very accessible style.
Train Station: Kilpatrick
Price: Tours start at £10 for a combined whisky and ale tasting. They also have more premium experiences ranging up to £85.
Note: Due to the pandemic, Auchentoshan are not currently running any tours
To visit Glasgow Distillery, you actually leave from Glasgow’s other train station – Glasgow Central. Never fear though, Central is only a 5-minute walk from Queen Street.
The distillery is located on an industrial estate in South Glasgow. This isn’t the image that first comes to mind when people think of arranging Scotland whisky tours, but it’s what they make that counts. And boy does it count! Glasgow distillery makes an amazing range of whiskies, vodkas and gins. There truly is something for everyone. You can also get a double tour and visit Scotland’s favourite beer brewery, Tennents, at the same time.
Train Station: Hillington West
Price: Tours are informal but you do need to call ahead to discuss numbers. You can combine a tour of the distillery and Tennents brewery for £32 per person.
Note: Due to the pandemic, no tours are currently running.
The Oban Distillery is only 5 minutes walk from the train station. Oban is a small town, making it an ideal base for visiting the Scottish islands. Being a coastal town it is home to some of the best seafood in the world so it’s well worth a visit for a day of whisky followed by delicious food – heaven! The smallish distillery matches the town and oozes cosy Highland charm. Plus, the views from the train on your journey up are nothing short of spectacular.
Train Station: Banavie
Price: £10 for their “Signature Cask Experience” and £20 for the “Taste of Oban” tour.
Set at the base of the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis Distillery is another postcard-worthy entry to this list. It’s a shorter and easier walk to the distillery if you get off at Banavie and walk 25 minutes along the shoreline with the outline of the mountain ahead of you. Any keen photographers will want to give themselves plenty of extra time on this walk.
Train Station: Banavie
Note: The visitor centre is currently closed due to the pandemic.
Inverness Whisky Tours by Train
As the only city in the Scottish Highlands, if you’re looking to stay somewhere and use it as a base, Inverness is an obvious choice. But the benefits go beyond just being a base. Inverness is also very close to Loch Ness, Aviemore and many other amazing places in the Scottish Highlands.
In whisky terms, it is also close to the Speyside region, which has over half the total number of Scottish distilleries. Inverness is the rail hub for the Highlands so you can travel to any part of Scotland fairly easily from there.
Glen Ord is the closest distillery to Inverness that is accessible by rail – it’s just 15 mins walk from Muir of Ord train station. Most bottles of Glen Ord are exported by drinks powerhouse Diageo, so it’s relatively rare in Scotland. You’ll see bottles labelled as “The Singleton of Glen Ord”.
Time from Inverness: 20 minutes
Price: £10 per person for tutored tasting or £15 for a tour and tasting.
In the town of Forres to the east of Inverness is the Benromach Distillery. Benromach was established in the 19th century but has only existed in it’s current form since 1997. They produce quite a smokey style for a Speyside whisky and claim to harken back to a “more traditional” Speyside style.
Time from Inverness: 30 mins
Price: Tours start at £8 for the “Classic Tour”, going up to £75 for the much more in-depth “Heritage Tour”.
Note: Due to the pandemic, Benromach are not currently running any tours.
Glen Moray is a 30 minute walk from Elgin train station. But it is worth getting your steps in for as it has a superb range of different finishes to its whiskies. This allows you to try a wide range of styles without spending a fortune. They describe themselves as “small, friendly and informal” and have limited space on tours so booking is essential.
Time from Inverness: 40 mins
Price: Tours are £7 per person and take a maximum of 15 people so booking is essential. In addition to the tour, they also offer tasting flights at their bar from £5 for 3 whiskies.
You can reach The Dalmore distillery by walking just 10 minutes from Alness train station, along the shores of the Cromarty Firth. The Dalmore whisky is a rich, complex Highland whisky and they offer many aged and no-age whiskies which you can sample. Its stunning location is just the bacon bits on top.
Time from Inverness: 50 mins
Price: Tours are £12 per person and must be booked in advance.
Note: Due to the pandemic, The Dalmore are not currently running tours
Strathisla is the home of Chivas Regal blended whisky and is the oldest distillery in Speyside. The distillery is located a couple of minutes walk from Keith train station, where trains to the Speyside distillery hub of Dufftown also run during the summer. This makes it an easy day trip from Inverness. A lot of work has gone into making the distillery aesthetically pleasing, which you are sure to love.
Time from Inverness: 1 hour 5 mins
Price: Tours start at £15 for the “Traditional Tour” up to £60 per person for the “Blending Experience” where you can create your own blend. They also offer a whisky flight of 3 drams for £10 at their bar.
“The Glen of Tranquility” is located an hour-or-so north of Inverness in Tain (where they also make some fantastic cheeses). Glenmorangie has a wide range of special cask finishes and age-specific whiskies to try. This availability makes it one of the most ideal Scotland whisky tours for a whisky rookie as you get to see a wide range of flavour profiles in one place.
Time from Inverness: 1 hour 20 mins
Price: Choose from the “Original Tour” or the more in-depth “Signet Tour”. Prices start at £8.50.
Clynelish is a scenic walk from Brora where you will quickly feel you are walking into the wilds of Scotland. 20 minutes later you will arrive at a historic distillery. Here, they don’t try to do anything clever. Instead, they produce an excellent smooth coastal Highland malt. As they are owned by Diageo there are also malts from other distilleries available to contrast with Clynelish.
Time from Inverness: 2 hours 20 mins
Price: Tours start at £6 but have to be booked over the phone as they are still working on an online system.
One of Scotland’s newest distilleries is also now the most Northerly on the mainland. Wolfburn can be found near the famous town of John O’Groats. As it is a newer distillery they don’t have the same kind of range to try as the older distilleries. But if you’re planning a trip to the northern tip of the mainland, you can pop in to check out a distillery while there.
Time from Inverness: 3 hours 50 mins
Price: The tour is £10 per person but only runs once a day so it is best to call ahead.
Previously the most northerly distillery on the mainland, Old Pulteney produces exceptional maritime Highland whisky. Named after the founder of the town of Wick they have various different expressions and ages to try and offer an excellent insight into whisky production at this remote edge of Scotland.
Train Station: Wick
Time from Inverness: 4 hours 20 mins
Price: The standard tour is £10 per person but you can try more whiskies and pay up to £25.
Note: Due to the pandemic, they are not currently running tours.
Scotland is abundant in beautiful landscapes, perfect for creating a diverse and exciting food scene.
Click here to read about all the top Scottish foods to try on your next visit.
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