The Talisker Whisky Distillery. Image by Hebridean Whisky Trail.
Hotels on the Whisky Trail in Scotland plus whisky tours and books
The trail will officially launch on 15 August. While there are only four spots on the trail, there is great variety in what they offer; the oldest distillery, Talisker, was founded in , while the youngest, Isle of Raasay, began production in Scotch-lovers will know that the country is broken up into regions — like the Highlands, Islay, Speyside and more — each with their own type of whisky boasting certain characteristics. Embark your yacht at Oban, the gateway town of the Hebrides.
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Head northwest towards Mull to visit the 13th century castle and learn about its troubled past with a local historian. Go north through the stunning sound of Mull, keeping an eye out for dolphins, orca and seals. Meet the head distiller for a private tour and tastings of this small yet powerful single malt. Take to the skies for para-jet flights in search of whales, orca and sea eagles.
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Head round the northern tip of Mull and towards tiny Staffa, an entirely volcanic Island uninhabited since the 17th century. Drop anchor and explore Fingals Cave, a sea cave formed completely in hexagonally jointed basalt.
Next, Iona, the centre of Gaelic monasticism for four centuries. Moor up and go ashore for a view of Iona Abbey, a focal point for Christianity and the burial place of no less than 43 Scottish Kings! Our next stop is Scarba, a small island adjacent to Jura. The flood tides and currents can produce waves of up to 30 foot in height and the noise it produces can be heard up to ten miles away on the right tide. Take to the skies in a helicopter and view this fantastic natural phenomenon from above.
For the more adventurous, a tandem para-motor flight between the two islands can be arranged. The island's only remaining distillery at Lochranza produced the first legal dram of whisky made on Arran for over years in And they're still making it today — which is good news for you.
History of Scottish whisky: Islay, Inner Hebrides
Take the ferry from Ardrossan or Cloanaig and you could be stepping into their award-winning visitor centre within a couple of hours. Campbeltown — spoiled for choice. There's a folk song about Campbeltown Loch, wishing it were full of whisky. Last time we checked the loch it was still just cold, Scottish water - but with three distilleries packed into the town you won't be short of a dram. It's no more than a minute walk from Glen Scotia distillery in the north of Campbeltwon to Mitchell's Glengyle Distillery in the south, though popping in to Springbank Distillery along the way will slow you down a tad.
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All three venues offer tours — combine them with an overnight stay in one of the local hotels and you could just about fit them all in. It's hard to travel too far on Islay without bumping into a whisky distillery. Familiar names like Bunnahabhain, Bowmore, Bruichladdich and Laphroaig are all created there, and there's also a host of others to discover. Getting there is easy too, with ferry routes from the mainland to the north and south of the island. While you're there, why not pop over to Jura?
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The ferry journey is just five minutes. Jura — there's gold at the foot of those dark hills.
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With just one road, finding your way around Jura shouldn't pose any problems. Nor should finding the one pub or the one distillery — they're both on the one road.