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SPEYSIDE, WHISKY TOUR

Speyside Whisky tour
 

Speyside whiskies are among Scotland’s lightest, sweetest single malts. There is a low mineral content in the waters of Speyside, lying on the Grampians, with their granite content proffering soft waters. The Speyside style has altered over time, a traditional Speyside single malt would be more akin to a Highland whisky, with a definite robustness and a marked peat. More recent expressions are lighter, sweeter whiskies; honeyed and fine. Lacking the peat of Islay or the Highlands, the ozone and salinity of coastal malts or the dry, perfume of the Lowlands; Speyside whiskies are sweet and subtle. There is however, no hard and fast rule as to the characteristics of Speyside whisky

The River Spey doth run with scotch whisky

Older variants, particularly from those powerhouse distilleries: Macallan and Glenfarclas are often well-sherried, thick drams. There is a tendency to steer away from heavily finished whiskies, indeed most are matured in either ex-bourbon or ex-sherry casks. A heavily sherried Speyside single malt is often felt to be the perfect companion to a medium-bodied cigar.

Half Day with Golf

The Speyside golf course that we feel has the strongest connection with whisky is probably Old Moray in Lossiemouth. This is our first calling albeit daylight will usually dictate that we look to play it later after the distilleries are closed.

The Strathsila Distillery

The Glen Grant Distillery

Glen Grant is in the small town of Rothes and ever since 1840 has been pushing at the boundaries of convention. The distillery is perhaps best known for ‘The Major’ Grant, who inherited the business on the founder’s death. Stories about ‘The Major’ abound, a legendary innovator, socialiser and traveller, he lived by his own rules and set his own standards. New ideas fascinated him and he wasn’t afraid to explore them. He was the first man in the Highlands to own a car. Glen Grant was the first distillery to have electric light. And he introduced the tall slender stills and purifiers which created the fresh malty flavour and clear colour that defines Glen Grant whisky to this day.

A short journey from Rothes takes us to Keith, and here we find the charismatic old distillery of Strathsila. Although the argument of ‘oldest’ distillery in Scotland rages, Strathsila claims it dating from 1786. The buildings have changed little, from the old cobbled courtyard to the distinctive double pagodas, making it one of the most picturesque distilleries in Scotland. Today it’s best known for being home to Chivas Regal

Full Day

Our full day tour borrows from the half day. The running order alters slightly. We start at Glen Grant again, but dig a little bit deeper into the Spey valley visiting Macallan next and the Spey Valley Cooperage. After lunch we head over to Glenfiddich before finishing at Strathsila again. Although four distilleries and cooperage in a day is pushing it, and won’t always be possible, we should say that during the summer season you would normally expect to be able to play an evening round at Moray at this latitude

Glenfiddich Distillery

The Speyside Cooperage


Easter Elchies House, The Macallan Estate

Glenfiddich is one of the most recognisable names in whisky yet alone Speyside. William Grant, the founder of Glenfiddich, was born in 1839 in Dufftown. His dream was to build his own distillery and create the best dram in the valley. The first spirit flowed from the stills on Christmas Day 1887. The crystal-clear water of the Robbie Dhu Springs, the barley, the pure Highland air and the unusually small size of the stills, produced a single malt Scotch whisky of outstanding quality that has seen Glenfiddich establish itself firmly amongst the ‘big 3’ best-selling malts

The Speyside Cooperage offers visitors a unique insight as the only working cooperage in the UK where you can see skilled craftsmen at work, and even attempt a mini cask yourself. Casks are made from the finest American oak using traditional methods

The Macallan distillery was licensed to Alexander Reid in 1824. The site originally held a farm distillery, which was frequented by cattle drovers crossing the ford. The Macallan has the smallest stills on Speyside giving the spirit maximum contact with the copper. The Macallan has earned a reputation for outstanding quality and has established itself as one of the ‘big three’ malt whiskies of Scotland

Two Days with Golf

As you might imagine, the full day forms the first day of the two day option. Our second day is therefore spent adding a couple of other names to the bucket list of Speyside’s giants. The second round of golf is played at Nairn in the evening, within easy access of our hotel

The Glenlivet

Glenfarclas Distillery


Cardhu Distillery

Glenlivet is one of the most mighty and respected names in Scottish whisky. Glenlivet has a turbulent history for this is where it all started. After the 1823 Excise Act, George Smith became the first distiller in the Highlands to obtain a license for distillation and, in 1824, he established The Glenlivet. Many of the neighbouring distilleries were illegally run and involved smuggling. They became indignant, for George Smith was running Glenlivet by legal means. George had to carry a pair of pistols for protection. Originally ‘Gow’, the family name became the more Anglo-sounding ‘Smith’ following Bonnie Prince Charlie’s 1746 defeat at the battle of Culloden to escape the resultant subjugation which ensued. The Glenlivet has always been a name associated with quality, to such a degree that other distilleries would use the name, no matter how distant they were from the Livet glen. To help preserve his brand, George Smith’s son, John Gordon Smith, applied for sole rights to the name, which were granted in 1884. The name still crops up elsewhere, but has to be hyphenated. The Glenlivet is the world’s second best-selling single malt and is the top seller in the US.

Since 1865 Glenfarclas has been owned and managed by just one family, the Grants of Glenfarclas. To this day Glenfarclas is one of only a few distilleries in Scotland to remain family owned and managed. Now in the hands of the fifth and sixth generations of the family. The distillery has six stills which are the largest on Speyside

Cardhu Distillery is one of Speysides more aesthetic and nestles in a picturesque setting. The Cardhu distillery is the only distillery started by a woman, albeit it was John Cumming who took the rap in 1816 when he was thrice convicted for illegal production. Cardhu is not only a world renowned brand in itself but also has a very close connection to Johnnie Walker. Johnnie Walker is the biggest selling blended whisky in the world and Cardhu is the spiritual home of Johnnie Walker in Speyside.

The’Trail’

Speyside is the only Scottish whisky producing region that has its own official ‘trail’. Brown signposts dot the countryside and guide you on your odyssey.

The official trail variously takes in Benromach, Cardhu, Craigellachie, Dallas Dhu, Glenfiddich, Glen Grant, The Glenlivet, Glen Moray, Knockando, Strathsila, and the Speyside Cooperage

You might prefer to ‘cherry-pick’ your own favourites. Most distilleries have a tour or private visitor arrangements, so the answer really is to supply us with a list and we’ll work the mileage and journey times out and then start ringing round and seeing what we can do for you! Fear not, we will also provide the transport as doubtless the euphamism that goes by the name ‘sampling’ will be put to use!

We’re also assured that whisky has amazing benefits for your golf too. If you consume an obliging quantity it can have the effect of not only erasing every bad shot you’ve played during the day from memory, but will also cause you to realise that some of your equally modest efforts were in fact borderline superb

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