Best of Scotland’s Distilleries Tour and Island Hopping

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Total Trip:

8 Days
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Countries Visited:

Scotland
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Places Visited:

Edinburgh, Isle of Skye, Inverness, Isle of Mull, Mallaig, Oban, Kintyre
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Departure Dates:

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
From the soft smokiness of a Highland single malt to the salty bite of the whiskies of Islay, from the peak of Ben Nevis to the meadows of the Lowlands, Scotland is a country filled with contrasts and complexity. This is the tour of Scotland that will show you all of it and introduce you to the magic of the majestic land.

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Day 1

Touching Down in Scotland the Brave

Your unique and unforgettable journey through Scotland’s greatest islands and best distilleries begins on the outskirts of its capital city, as you land today outside of enchanting Edinburgh. A private car leads you through the route formerly used by whisky smugglers and illicit distillers to the famous region of Speyside, the heart of Scotland’s whisky region. Here, you’ll find more single malt distilleries than anywhere else on the island, and your tour of this remarkable area begins at the Edradour Distillery, reputed to be the smallest in Scotland with a weekly production of just 18 casks of Scotch a week.

The tour will give you a glimpse at how a small-scale distiller goes about plying their trade, from smoking the peat to making the mash to turning it into the final product, and it concludes with two drams of Edradour’s single malt whisky and a nosing glass for you to enjoy them to the fullest. From here you climb the Highland ridges past the elegant white façade of Blair Castle, the ancestral home of Clan Murray and the site of the second-tallest tree in Great Britain, as well as the former bagpipes of Charles Edward Stuart, the Jacobean pretender to the English crown better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie. Then it’s on to the famous Dalwhinnie Distillery, the highest distillery in the country, set in the spectacular mountain scenery that rises more than 1,000 feet above sea level.

Following the fascinating tour of this one-of-a-kind facility, you’ll visit the world renowned Macallan Distillery, where an informative and engaging tour awaits. You’ll learn all about the history of this third-largest distillery, from its celebrated past to its promising future, and get a taste of one of its famous single malt. The evening is spent at a nearby hotel.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

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Day 2

North to the Heart of the Highlands

Leave the Speyside region and venture inland to the center of the Scottish Highlands, where the rugged and romantic scenery is sure to take your breath and steal your heart. You’ll get a different taste from the whiskies of the Highlands, a smoother taste filled with floral notes, but with a little more bite than the whiskies from Speyside. You’ll visit one of the best known of the Highland distilleries at Glen Ord, the only single malt distillery left on the Black Isle, where they produce a 12-year old single malt that won the International Wine and Spirit Competition twice, offering a delightful mix of sweet and smoky that is truly sublime.

Historically associated with the MacKenzie Clan – they were gifted the land on which the distillery is now situated in the middle of the 13th century – Glen Ord produces a delicious product that is still made to the exacting standards of the 19th century. You then travel north of the Highland capital of Inverness and on to the rustic and stolid distillery of Dalmore, established in 1839 by a trader who made his money in the bourgeoning British opium trade. Dalmore produces a 12-year single malt that has a thick mouthfeel and a rich, toasty taste, filling a gorgeous bottle dominated by a silver stag head. You can also learn about some of the distillery’s super-aged Scotches, including a 62-year old whisky that sold for 32,000 pounds in 2005.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 3

Heading Out to the Inner Hebrides

Today you set out for the western islands of Scotland, where you’ll witness the sensational scenery and incomparable romance of the beautiful Isle of Skye. Head to the island’s north to catch glimpses of some of the most dramatic geological formations in the country, inckuding the craggy rise of The Storr, the longest landslip in Great Britain, and the otherworldly surroundings of the nearby Sanctuary, where you’ll find the powerful monolith known as The Old Man of Storr. This craggy rock is best observed when approaching The Storr from the south.

After taking in this incredible landscape, you’ll visit the only distillery on the Isle of Skye at Talisker, where the single malt is filled with a peatiness almost unseen outside of the whiskies of Islay, caused by the high phenol level of the malt and the peaty flavor of the water used to produce the whisky. The taste is truly explosive and unforgettable, and its quality is attested by the fact that a Talisker 18-year old won “Best Single Malt in the World” at the 2007 World Whiskies Awards. No wonder, then, that Talisker was the whisky of choice for Scottish novelist Robert Louis Stevenson. After a visit to this famous whisky maker, you’ll take in the dramatic rise of Dunvegan Castle, the seat of the chief of Clan MacLeod and the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland. You’ll be amazed by the impressive towers and ancient stone walls, as well as by the gorgeous surroundings and the impeccably maintained formal gardens.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 4

Memorials to Famous Scots and the Country’s Tallest Mountain

The day begins onboard a ferry, taking you from the Isle of Skye to Mallaig on the west coast of the Highlands. Once you arrive on the mainland, you’ll board the renowned Jacobite Steam Train that takes you through scenery so breathtaking and picturesque, it was used by Warner Brothers for the real-life envisioning of the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films. You’ll wind your way through some of the most beautiful reaches of the Highlands, making your way alongside Loch Eli, over the awe-inspiring expanse of the Glenfinna Viaduct, and past the eye-catching tower that serves as a monument to Bonnie Prince Charlie and his failed rebellion. It's topped with the statute of an unknown Highland warrior prepared to fight for his liege lord.

Once you arrive at Fort William, you’ll be transported to the remarkable Ben Nevis Distillery, located deep within the shadow of soaring Ben Nevis, Scotland's tallest mountain. You’ll get a tour of the facility and get a taste of the 10-year single malt, noted for its dryness and its tasty notes of toffee with a sweet finish reminiscent of caramel and chocolate. After visiting Ben Nevis, you’ll get a glimpse of one of Scotland’s best-known monuments, the Commando Memorial, dedicated to the memory of the original British Commando Forces that fought in World War II and offering spectacular vistas of Ben Nevis and the gentle rise of Aonach Mor. You’ll certainly be moved by this remarkable structure, situated in the heart of one of the most beautiful regions in the entire country.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 5

Back to Scotland’s Wild West Coast

Today, travel south and west to board the ferry to the second-largest island of the Inner Hebrides, the captivating and breathtaking Isle of Mull. Here, humans have lived for nearly eight millennia, documented by the many ancient artifacts that have been found on Mull. You’ll be wowed by the many miles of shoreline and the dramatic natural landscapes that dominate the horizon, including the dramatic rise of Ben More, towering more than 3,100 feet above the teeming surf on Mull’s rocky shore. While in Mull, you’ll visit the island’s only distillery, Tobermoray, where they’ve been distilling fine single malt whisky for nearly 200 years. You’ll get a tour of the distillery, beautifully perched at the base of a steep hill, surrounded by multicolored houses that set a quaint and vibrant backdrop. The whisky itself is bright and crisp, smooth on the tongue with a fruity tang with stronger notes of fresh peat and wet smoke.

You’ll pass by the beautiful Torosay Castle, featuring spectacular gardens, a statue walk featuring 19 sculptures in the style of Antonio Bonazza. Even more fascinating, a sideboard in the castle is where a pristine bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne from 1893 was discovered in 2008. The bottle is currently at display at the champagne makers visitor center in France is considered to be priceless. Your evening is spent in the elegant confines of Duart Castle, the ancestral seat of the MacLean Clan and one of the most picturesque castles in the region. You might recognize it as its a location in a number of feature films and TV shows.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 6

Into Islay, One of Scotland’s Most Famous Whisky Regions

Leave Mull this morning and cross to the mainland to the town of Oban, the jumping off point to the famous islands of Islay, a region that produces some of the most distinctive and unforgettable single malts in the world, from Lagavulin to Bowmore.

You’ll start your tour of the nearby distilleries at Oban, one of the smallest distilleries in Scotland, running with only two pot stills. The whisky produced at this one-of-a-kind facility has been described as having a “West Highland” flavor profile, delicately balancing the lighter and sweet malts of the Highlands with the strong and smoky style of the Scottish Islands. The distillery also offers gorgeous views of the surrounding countryside and the nearby sea, placed on the main street of the town that sprung up after the distillery itself was founded. After this exciting experience, board the ferry to reach the mountainous island of Jura, covered by blanket fog and dominated by three conical quartzite mountains rising 2,500 feet in the opaque air and known as the Paps of Jura. Here you’ll taste a whisky named after Eric Blair, pen name George Orwell, who was the island’s most famous inhabitant before leaving Jura for the neighboring island of Islay, one of the most famous islands in Scotland widely renowned for the incredible whiskies that spill from its shores.

Start at Caol Ila, overlooking the strait between the two islands and producing a whisky that is one of the lighter of the Islay malts, filled with peaty and peppery notes and colored a paler amber than other whiskies from the islands. Your final stop is at the isolated distillery of Bunnahabhain, tempting the sea with its proximity and daring it to encroach, where they make a number of aged whiskeys that are among the finest in their class, from the soft and supple palate of the 12-year single malt to the complex nose and palate of the 18-year malt, filled with notes of sherry, wood spice and salt.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 7

The Twisting Fingers of Scotland’s Western Peninsulas

Today you cross back to the fringes of the Scottish mainland, making your way down the peninsula of Kintyre, reaching no more than 11 miles from coast to coast at the formation’s widest point. You make your way down this sliver of land to the village of Campbeltown, where the history of whisky making is stronger than perhaps any other town in the country. Campbeltown is located near the gorgeous headlands of the peninsula known at the Mull of Kintyre, sporting a historic lighthouse and views to the coast of Antrim in the far north of neighboring Ireland. This breathtaking scenery is sure to get you ready for your visit to one of the most celebrated distilleries in the country: the famed Springbank Distillery which produces one of only three Campbeltown single malts left in the world.

You’ll get a chance to tour the impressive facility and taste two of the distillery’s unique single malts. The Longrow is a 10-year whisky that is matured in casks formerly used for bourbon makers and characterized by a taste that is profoundly peaty and fiercely smoky; while the Hazelburn is triple distilled and features a nose filled with dried fruits, toffee and nuts and a palate that is rich and spicy, filled with notes of chocolate and coffee. The evening sees you crossing deep into the Scottish mainland to Glasgow, the largest city in Scotland and home to one of the best nightlife scenes in Scotland.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 8

Departing Scotland

Today sees you leaving scenic and spectacular Scotland, with a private transfer taking you to the airport in Glasgow where you board the plane that will take you home. Your bags will be filled with the best Scotch whiskies and your heart will be filled with the stories and sights from a truly special vacation, replete with memories and magic from this one-of-a-kind country.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast

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Trip Highlights

  • Visit some of Scotland’s oldest and most important archaeological sites as well as the monuments to Scottish heroes that dot the country from the Firth of Forth to the Outer Hebrides
  • Take in the scenery and the landmarks of the spectacular Isle of Skye, from the Old Man of Storr to the rugged country known as The Trotternish
  • Explore the great former fortresses of Scotland, like Torosay, Duart, and Dunvegan Castle 
  • Tour some of the country’s best known distilleries, from the tiny farmhouse distillery of Edradour to the world-famous Macallan distillery, and from Talisker to Tobermory  
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Detailed Description

While oenophiles might make their way to Burgundy or Bordeaux and beer lovers head to Belgium and Germany, there is no place for whisky connoisseurs like Scotland, the center of the single malt world. This eight-day best of Scotland's distilleries and island hopping tour will take you through Scotland’s whisky-producing regions, from the eastern Highlands to the western islands, while showing off some of the most magnificent scenery in the entire country.

Start at Scotland’s east coast, traveling north from Edinburgh and visiting the Highland distilleries at Edradour, Dalwhinnie and Macallan, as well as the gorgeous Highland interior. Next, turn west to Scotland’s rugged seaside coast, from the magnificent islands of the Inner Hebrides and the Small Isles, filled with some of the most interesting and diverse distilleries in the country, like Talisker on the Isle of Skye. Conclude your incredible island hopping tour at famous Islay and the Kintyre Peninsula, where some of the most flavorful malts in the country are created and where the wild scenery is as bold as the region’s whiskies.

This is a vacation for nature buffs and bon vivants, for lovers of fine food and scintillating scenery, and for any who are looking for a truly unique exploration of one of the most fascinating countries on Earth. If you’ve ever wanted to discover the many offerings of Scotland, from the waters of Loch Ness to the water of life, then we have just the vacation for you.

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Starting Price

$2395 per person (excluding international flights)

This trip is customizable for your private travel.
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What's Included

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.

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