The Speyside Malt Whisky Trail, Scotland
Whisky distilleries have been traditionally built in regions with the cool, clean spring water necessary for distilling. Speyside has a rich history of distilleries and contains more than half of those in Scotland, with each of them producing fine Scottish whisky using their own methods and traditions. The Speyside Whisky trail takes in 9 of Speyside’s most famous distilieries.
It starts at Benromach, a small distillery on the outskirts of the ancient market town of Forres, which lays claim to having produced the first certified organic single malt. The trail then takes you to Cardhu, a distillery opened in 1811 – within the first five years the owner was convicted three times of distilling without a license. The next point on the trail is Dallas Dhu Historic Distillery, which produced whisky between 1899 and 1983, when in closed its doors because of water shortage due to a prolonged drought. The fourth stop of the Speyside Malt Whisky Trail is perhaps one of Scotland’s most famous distilleries, Glenfiddich. It was opened by William Grant in 1839 in Dufftown and it is one of the few Scottish whisky companies to still be owned by the family who founded it.
Then on to Glen Grant distillery which also boasts a Victorian Garden. The wild and remote setting of Glenlivet is the sixth point on the tour, a place where, in the 19th century, around 200 distilleries were producing illicit whisky. Number seven on the tour is Glen Moray, a small and friendly distillery located in the Laich of Moray which, according to folklore, has forty days more of summer than anywhere else in Scotland.
The penultimate stop on the trail is the Speyside Cooperage, the only working cooperage in the UK where visitors can learn about the traditional methods and tools used to make casks. The final stop on the Speyside Malt Whisky trail is Strathisla, a distillery operating since 1786.
All of the distilleries have their own rates for entries, some of them with specialised tours with the professionals working at the distillery, so it’s worth checking the websites in advance. To get to Speyside you can fly or take the train to Aberdeen. The area often has deep snow in the winter so it’s worth checking the weather before you travel. If you get your timing right there are a number of whisky festivals throughout the year, with one at the end of April and another in Autumn.