Friday, March 21

Top Tips For Visiting A Whisky Distillery with The Little Backpacker

I'm Jodie a travel blogger over on my site: - I talk all things travel and photography. I started travelling around three years ago and have since lived in four continents - twice being in Scotland (Edinburgh and now Glasgow). I seek adventure and unique experiences on a budget and hope to share some of my tips and experiences with you guys.  

I spent some time travelling around Scotland in March and during this time I wanted to visit a whisky distillery. Not because I’m a huge fan of the taste but because I wanted to see what a distillery was like and how the whisky is made. It is such an important part of Scottish culture and I felt I should really know more about this famous drink. We passed dozens of distilleries on our road trip however the first one which took our fancy was the Talisker one on the Isle Of Skye. Unfortunately we arrived 15 minutes after the last tour started and the next tour started too late the following morning. Thinking we had learnt from our first lesson I phoned ahead when we decided to visit to the Ben Nevis distillery. Unfortunately what they failed to tell me on the phone was that they had stopped production for the weekend and we wouldn’t see very much. Luckily it was third time lucky and we managed to visit the Oban distillery on our last day of travelling. 

After getting it so wrong before I got it right I want to give you the tips to get it right the first time!

· Phone Ahead – check the opening times of the distillery and the tour times as these are not the same.

· If you haven’t phoned ahead remember – Tours last an hour so allow enough time before it closes.

· Book the tour ahead of time – some distilleries get very busy especially during the summer so there may not be space on the tour you have in mind

· Check what production they have going on that day – If the distillery doesn’t have any production going on you aren’t really going to see much. Nor will you get a real feel for the way the distillery works every day. The guys working there can also give you a better insight in to the techniques used and answer any questions your guide cannot.

· Chose a smaller distillery over a big manufacturer – The smaller the distillery the better your experience will be. The big companies like Famous Grouse for instance run their tours like clockwork and it feels like a tourist attraction. Whereas the smaller ones that have kept old traditions really give you an insight in to everything that happens and make it more personal.

· Sign of for the ‘Friends Of The Classic Malts’ campaign – Offered at 12 different distilleries, this campaign gets people signed up after one tour and then gives you free entry in to 12 other distilleries. If nothing else it is a great money saver, but if you like whisky then they will email you offers and special events too.

· If you do mess up like me, don’t be afraid to ask for a taste anyway, chances are you’ll get a sip

I learnt all of these tips the hard way but I’m hoping you don’t have to and can get it right first go. There are distilleries dotted all over Scotland all though one of the best areas to head to is Speyside where there is a good bunch of places, close together. Even if you hate whisky and have little interest in the drink I urge you to give at least one tour a try. I’m not a whisky lover however do have a keen interest in alcoholic drinks from my hospitality days. I didn’t expect to enjoy the tour that much but I found my myself loving it. Fascinated with it all: our guide was very knowledgeable and made the tour fun, the processes described were interesting and I thought differently about whisky as a drink after. 

I visited the old tradition distillery of Oban where they produce a 14 year malt which is shipped all over the world. Despite being a huge product the distillery is tiny and it really feels like a unique experience with a family business instead of an internationally recognised product. 

Have you visited a Whisky Distillery in Scotland? Do you have any more tips to add?

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