Scotland – The Home of Whisky
When thinking about Scotland, there is a fair chance that whisky will be a prominent feature. Indeed, it is so synonymous with Scotland that it is often simply referred to as “Scotch”. Those in the know also refer to it as uisge beatha or ‘the water of life’
A Simple Recipe – So Many Subtilties
From a simple recipe of malted barley, yeast and water, the skilled distillers can create a myriad of subtle flavours from the sweet notes of Speyside to the powerful pungent smokiness of Islay.
Each distillery has its own unique way of producing flavours that are distinct to their own products. This will be down to the precise nature of the individual ingredients, the malting process (especially where peat smokiness is involved), the type of barrels used to store the whisky (some whiskies will be stored in multiple different barrels), and how long the whisky is allowed to mature.
Single Malt or Blended Whisky?
There is sometimes a misconception that by their very nature, single malts must be better than blended whisky. Now whilst blended whisky tends to be a little less expensive than single malts, there are undoubtedly some excellent blends to be found. For many people, it is a question of personal preference that will lead you to your favourite whisky, and if that happens to be a blend then that is just fine.
If you want to learn more about the differences between single malt and blended whisky (and this is more complex than it may at first seem), then check out – What Is the Difference Between Single Malt and Blended Whisky?
Distilleries Close to Inverglen Guest House
Inverglen Guest House is situated in Inverness and is an ideal base for visiting a variety of distilleries. The distilleries closest to us lie in the area classified as Highland whisky. From the light fruity finish of whisky from Aberfeldy to the big body and boldness of The Dalmore in Ross-Shire, this region offers more variety of flavours than any other.
We are also on the doorstep of the famous Speyside area – the area with the most distilleries and a must-visit region for all whisky enthusiasts.
Just a few miles south of Inverness and Loch Ness lies Tomatin distillery. Whiskies produced here have received much acclaim for their mellow, fruity tones showing that there is a softer side to the Highlands.
Another great distillery close to Loch Ness and Inverness is Glen Ord where they create a magical malt whisky which is sweet and fruity with a subtle undertone of spice. The Singleton of Glen Ord is the signature whisky and is produced exclusively for the Asian market. The only place you can buy it in the UK is at the distillery itself.
Both Tomatin and Glen Ord offer a variety of tours where you can learn about how whisky is made, witness the process at first hand, and of course enjoy a dram or two to complete the experience.
Other local distilleries you can visit include:
- Dalwhinnie Distillery
- Glenmorangie Distillery
- Balblair Distillery
- Clynelish Distillery
- The Pulteney Distillery
- The Dalmore Distillery
- Cragganmore Distillery
- The Glenlivet Distillery
- Strathisla Distillery
- Benromach Distillery
- Macallan Distillery
- Balvenie Distillery
The above is only a small selection of the distilleries in the area.
The Speyside Cooperage
Creating great Whisky is a complex process and much of the final character is determined by the barrels used to store the precious liquid. All Scottish Whisky is matured for at least 3 years – and often much, much longer – in Oak Casks. It is this process that imparts both colour and flavour to the finished product. Whisky is almost always stored in Oak casks previously used to mature Bourbon, Sherry, Wine, Port or other such products. Once the barrels are no longer required for their original purpose they are shipped to the UK where many end up at The Speyside Cooperage to be repaired and made ready for the Whisky industry.
In addition to barrels coming from all over the world, The Speyside Cooperage also receives barrels from Scotlands whisky distillers for repair. All told the Cooperage handles over 100,000 barrels a year.
So, whilst touring Scotland, why not visit The Speyside Cooperage and learn about the process of making and repairing these barrels. It is a frantic activity involving fire, steam and the master craftsmanship of the Cooper. Tours operate daily from Monday to Friday.
Visiting a distillery is a real pleasure, however, Scotland has strict drink driving laws and it is essential for your safety and the safety of others that you do not drink and drive. Whilst you could nominate a designated driver, this isn’t always a fair solution. If your group want to fully enjoy a visit, and tasting, at a few distilleries then you could take a specialist Whisky Tour where an experienced guide will do the driving. At Inverglen Guest House we have relationships with several tour operators who have specialist whisky tours, including:
- WOW Scotland – Operate a regular “Whisky Bus” in peak season and also offer private tours
- Inverness Tours – Private Tours for the whisky lover
- Munro Highland Tours – Private 3-day whisky tour from Inverness
- Happy Tours – Regular Whisky Tours
- Rabbies Tours – Visits Benromach & Glenfiddich Distilleries
- Highland Spirit Tours – Specialist Speyside Whisky Tours
- The Hebridean Explorer – Offer a private Whisky Tour
- Inverness Custom Tours – Offer a range of private Whisky Tours
- Amber Spirit Tours – Tailor made whisky tours for up small groups (max 7 people)