Last week’s Travel Tuesday post focused on the lovely, wonderful, awesome, you-get-the-idea Bruichladdich Distillery on the Isle of Islay. As mentioned, Bruichladdich was only one of several distilleries we visited along the way, so I thought this week I would share a wee bit about the others.
The Scotch Whisky Association formally recognizes 5 whisky regions of Scotland: Speyside, Highlands, Lowlands, Campbeltown, and Islay. Each region is known for a distinctive flavor, owing primarily to the natural elements and styles of each location.
On our recent trip, we traveled west from Edinburgh down to Islay; from Islay north to Oban; from Oban northwest to Skye; and from Skye east and south back to Edinburgh. All of the distilleries on this particular trip, therefore, fall into either the Highlands or Islay regions.
Highlands Region distilleries
Glengoyne was my second favorite distillery in terms of atmosphere, tour, and taste. The Glengoyne range starts at 10 years and goes up to 21 years, with several specialties available. The whisky is quite smooth and has a lovely citrus-y flavor (to me). The distillery itself is in a beautiful location and you can even see Robbie Coltrane’s (Hagrid from Harry Potter) house in the background (bonus!). There are several tour and tasting options available, making it an entertaining stop for all.
Oban was a quick stop distillery unfortunately, as we were a little off in our scheduling. I would love to go back and spend a proper amount of time. We were able to sample a few whiskies, which was nice. The ones I tried were a bit peaty (i.e., smoky) and also had a hint of salt. It wasn’t my favorite, but not a bad whisky at all (smile).
Talisker is located on the Isle of Skye in one of the more picturesque locations we visited. Being one of my brother’s favorite whiskies, we opted for a tour and tasting on this one. Unfortunately, part of the grounds were undergoing maintenance while we were there, so it was only a partial tour. No matter, a wee dram works wonders on the spirit (ha) and so there was minimal complaining (smile). Talisker is a bit peaty for my personal taste, but it does have quite the reputation in the Scotch community. I think the 18 year with a bit of water was by far my favorite.
Dalwhinnie was the last distillery we visited and we made it there sort of by (happy) accident. As we were a bit pressed for time, we only stopped for a tasting before continuing on. There is quite a range available depending on your preference; all offer a smooth honey finish that is overall quite pleasant. The tasting room/shop area is beautifully set-up and also quite informative.
Islay Region distilleries
Ardbeg is on the east coast of the Isle of Islay just slightly north of Port Ellen. This distillery by far had the best branding. You see, each distillery has it’s own special color scheme and marketing, which was pretty cool (it took me a couple to catch on to this). Ardbeg even had it’s own paint color – Ardbeg green. The distillery also has a very lovely cafe on site, which was a perfect place to warm up and enjoy lunch. The whisky itself is notoriously peaty/smoky and has a bit of spice. It might be better with water, but overall I just don’t think I appreciate the peaty whisky as much.
Lagavulin is literally just down the road from Ardbeg. Our timing was off for the tour here, but we did get to taste a few of their whiskies. The most popular is their 16 year Scotch. It’s very peaty and very spicy. Even with water, it just was not for me. The shop and tasting room were really nice though, as were the staff (who kindly recommended Ardbeg for lunch).
Overall, I feel extremely lucky to have experienced such a wide variety of whiskies on a single visit! I can’t wait to go back and try more soon (I already have a must-try list started) (smile)!!
Is there a distillery you think I should add to my list?? Suggestions always welcome!