Top Distilleries You Must Visit in Scotland and Ireland
Old Bushmills (Ireland)-Dating back more than 400 years, Old Bushmills is the oldest Irish distillery. Bushmills Original Whiskey is a blend of triple distilled malt whiskey and a lighter grain whiskey. Located in the small, quaint village of Bushmills in Northern Ireland, the distillery offers a guided 40-minute walking tour.
Old Jameson (Ireland)-You won’t find any whiskey made here because the historic building is just a museum. What you’ll find is guided tours, tutored whiskey tastings, a restaurant, bar and gift shop. Established in 1780, the original distillery was located on this site on Bow Street in Dublin.
Glenmorangie (Scotland)– A favorite whisky for many Americans, Glenmorangie near Inverness in the Highlands has the tallest stills in Scotland, which the company claims “allows only the very lightest and purest vapors to make it to the top, giving it a smoother and more elegant whisky.” The tour is nominally priced and includes all stages of the whisky making process from mashing and fermenting to distilling and maturing–all ending with a dram or two of your choice.
Glenlivit (Scotland)-One of the most popular Scotch whiskies in the world, Glenlivit is located amid stunning Speyside countryside near Ballindalloch in Moray. It offers a free 45-minute tour and whisky connoisseurs (for a fee) can take the “Spirit of the Malt” tour, which lasts around two to three hours. For a fee, a nice touch is you can fill your own bottle of 18 year old Glenlivit whiskey straight from the cask, then cork, cap and label it. Glenlivit consistently receives high ratings as an outstanding tour experience.
Macallan (Scotland)-Founded in 1824 in Craigellachie, Moray, Macallan is a highly regarded whisky by Americans. Originally, Macallan was matured only in oak sherry casks, but in 2004 they introduced the Fine Oak series with the whisky mellowed in bourbon oak casks as well as sherry ones. The 45-minute tour allows you to stroll the beautiful grounds of the Macallan Estate, watch a video and enjoy a dram in the visitor center.
Tullamore Dew (Ireland)-Housed in a 19th century warehouse in the Midlands of Ireland in County Offaly, Tullamore Dew is one of Ireland’s most successful and famous distilleries. The 50-minute “Curious Taster’s Journey Tour” (for a small fee) begins with a video in the main auditorium then travels over three floors through the mashing kettle and wash back to explore the distilling process from ingredient selection to mashing, fermenting, distilling, maturing and blending. At the conclusion of the tour, every guest enjoys a comparative tasting, which includes three Tullamore Dew in the beautiful upstairs bar. Also offered (for a fee) is 90 minute “Whiskey Wise Masterclass Tour” and 5 hour “Ultimate Distillery Experience Tour”.
Kingsbarns (Scotland)-Started by a golf caddie at nearby Kingsbarns Golf Links, the Kingsbarns Distillery, is a partnership with the Wemyss family, whose whisky links date back to 1824. Set in a beautifully restored 18th century farmhouse, the distillery features a one hour and two hour tour. It’s located six miles from St. Andrews, 3 miles from Crail, just outside the village of Kingsbarns.
Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery (Scotland)-Located on the outskirts of picturesque Aberfeldy in Perthshire, this distillery, founded by John Dewar & Sons, encompasses buildings that date back to 1896 highlighted by a beautiful whisky lounge and cafe with a fireplace, leather couches and long bar. Aberfeldy uses the fresh water from the Pitilie Burn, which runs alongside the distillery. For a small fee, the 90-minute guided tour of the distillery and warehouse includes a taste in the whisky lounge. There are also several other tours (for a fee) for those who want a more in-depth look at the entire complex.
Glenturret/Famous Grouse Experience (Scotland)-Set in the foothills of the Highlands near the quaint town of Crieff in Perthshire, Glenturret is Scotland’s oldest distillery, with tours dating back to 1775. The Famous Grouse Experience tours feature several options such as the “Hot Toddy Experience”, “Tasting Experience” and “Warehouse Experience”.
Scotch Whisky Experience (Scotland)-For whisky lovers, this attraction on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile is a definite “must visit”. Home to the world’s largest collection of Scotch whisky with 3,384 bottles, it includes a whisky barrel ride, interactive tasting map and touch screen distillery guide. It has a variety of tours in all price ranges. The guides are very informative about all phases of whisky making and enjoyment. For beginners and novices, “The Silver Tour” (for a fee), lasts 50 minutes. There are also more in-depth experiences such as “The Taste of Scotland”, which includes a seasonal tasting menu in the Amber Restaurant, and the one-day “Whisky Training School”.
Note: For information on reservations or tour prices, visit the websites of the various distilleries.