As a twenty-something female, I had (until very recently) never drunk more than the mandatory drop of whisky provided at Burns’ Night suppers.
I disregarded Scotland’s national drink as for a different generation, favouring instead craft beers and cheap wine.
Then, while working briefly in a distillery and despite my better efforts, I acquired not just a taste for this spirit but a love for it. I came to realise that among the countless bottlings offered by each of the 100 distilleries still in production, there really is a whisky out there for everyone...and for all times of the day! Here are just a few of the drams that I would recommend sampling if you are visiting Scotland - try them out and if they’re not your thing then just keep dramming!
Glengoyne (West Highland Way) | Highland
The Scottish Highlands offer many attractions to visitors, not least of all its selection of whisky distilleries. Covering much of the country’s landscape, Highland malts vary as dramatically in style as the landscapes around them. From the rich and sweet whiskies of the North Highlands (Dalmore being a fine example) to the powerful, smoky whiskies like Talisker, found on the Isle of Skye. As the most southerly of mainland Highland malts, Glengoyne has a truly unique character. Something that makes this whisky really stand out is that there is no peat used in its production. As a result, Glengoyne is not at all smoky and is a great place to start if you are not a regular dram drinker! Like many south Highland malts, most of the Glengoyne range are smooth and fruity, making it a great “everyday” kind of whisky - ideal for a light refreshment as you pass by on the first day of the West Highland Way! https://www.instagram.com/p/rSaAFkt6mw/?hl=en&tagged=macsmoment
Balvenie | Speyside
The Speyside region is where you will find the greatest concentration of whisky distilleries in Scotland. This gives you a good idea of the quality and popularity of the whisky produced in here. Glenfiddich, for example, is the world’s best selling malt whisky, popular for its light, grassy flavours it is a staple for any whisky collection. Of course, we don’t actually pour whisky on our cornflakes, but the delicate nature of Speyside whiskies give them the reputation of being good “breakfast whiskies”! There is a huge variety to be found in this region and for me a real standout is Balvenie. Balvenie whisky is rich in taste and yet creamy due to the fact that it is often matured in both American bourbon barrels and Spanish sherry casks. This makes the whisky rich and sweet, while also giving it a beautiful rose gold colour. The smoothness of this malt makes it very accessible and comes highly recommended by whisky drinkers across the spectrum.
Uncover the story of whisky while walking along the salmon-rich River Spey on the Speyside Whisky Trail tour
Bowmore | Islay
Just over 3000 people live on this small Inner Hebridean island but there are 8 whisky distilleries, making it a real haven for whisky drinkers! Islay is famous for its smoky whiskies, many of which rank among the most popular single malts in the entire world. The whiskies on the island range from lightly peated drams that smell faintly of smoky bacon to the very heavily peated which, until you are used to them anyway, smell pretty similar to burning tyres! The island is probably most famous for the “Big Smokes”: Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg. These very smoky whiskies are not for the faint hearted...they are intense and full of flavour. Don’t be put off by this smokiness... for many people, this is the greatest appeal of an Islay whisky. It compliments perfectly the more subtle flavours within the drink and acts as a great digestif following a well-deserved meal after a long day of walking or cycling. Bowmore distillery is located on the south eastern shores of the island. It is the perfect middle ground for anyone looking for a touch of smoke without the burning tyre taste! The whisky is matured in oak barrels, below sea level, giving the nose a hint of sea salt that balances the slight smokiness of the spirit. All of this combined gives you a delicious dram that smells distinctly of smoky bacon crisps! Home to eight world renowned distilleries Islay is a whisky lover's paradise and as you can imagine the pubs aren’t half bad either. You can visit Bowmore Distillery while cycling deserted roads on the wild west coast of Islay on our Scottish Island Hopscotch cycling trip.
Whisky barrels on the Islands of Islay
Macs Adventure offer a range of Walking & Cycling Holidays in Scotland with excellent tasting opportunities. Try the Speyside Whisky Trail or Scottish Island Hopping by Bike, or of course the West Highland Way to try out Erin's recommendation of Glengoyne. Do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you need more information, you can contact us on email@example.com