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Drinking in the Highlands: Scotland Part 3

Photo by B K on Unsplash

After hitting pause on Scotland for Disney, we decided to take Disney off the free train and now I am returning to Scotland, to quickly be followed by taking the leap to planning France. Today’s post is on distilleries in Scotland, the only part of this trip April’s husband is interested in. So let’s get this scotch party started.

Once again I reached out to my friends in the Travel Fashion Girls Facebook group. I asked for advice on specific distilleries and the best advice was this: know your preferred flavor profiles. I didn’t know this but it makes sense that different regions have different flavors. According to one gal, the Island of Islay tends to be heavy in peat flavors and can “taste like licking a campfire.” The highland on the other hand is sweeter with more “ice cream topping flavors.” I loved her use of imagery and advice. My whole goal in travel mentoring is teaching know thyself.

The same gal also mentioned that you only want to tour so many distilleries until you realize they’re mostly the same, so only do two or three and then just head to the tasting room. There you will have the opportunity to taste small batches and really find out what a distillery is made of. She also mentioned that a few times she asked off book questions distilling questions and was allowed to go further behind the scenes for answers.

Having toured three champagne houses in France, I agree with all of this. We are Epernay people not Rheims and yes the taste profiles from those two close regions are different. We also prefer Napa to Sonoma. On the first tour we were afraid to ask questions of the scary Moet tour lady and the second didn’t speak English. But by the third we were ripe with questions and really enjoyed seeing the hardware behind the nectar of the gods.

Another woman gave me some different yet fantastic advice. She talked about travel distance and making the most of your time. She mentioned Arran, which has two very different distilleries which is close to Islay where there are nine, and then finally Jura, which gives you another one. That’s twelve distilleries and three islands, all with fabulous scenery. She also mentioned great beaches which might be fun for April and her son, while hubby tours the distilleries because I doubt their school aged son is going to be cool with all visiting all twelve.

When we were in Champagne our tour guide felt it was important we visit one big well known houses and then two smaller ones we don’t get to experience in the US. I got similar advice in my group as well from a woman who suggested starting with the Scotch Whiskey Experience in Edinburgh to really get the history and help you identify your flavor profiles you like, then venturing to both a big and smaller distilleries so you can see both kinds of operations. The tunnels under Moet with thousands upon thousands upon thousands of bottles and barrels is a site you can only see at a big house.

As for specifics I heard that Dalwhinnie was both horrible and amazing. Same for Oban. I got some other specific recommendations which now seem useless because I have no idea what April’s husband's preferred flavor profile is and explain the variance in opinions on the aforementioned distilleries. One of the things April asked for was distilleries that were near other fun attractions for her and her son. I now can’t do this until I have more information from her husband.

Personally I like to try different things and I have a feeling he will too. However, there are two types of travelers, those who like to have a home base and venture out from it only a few hours away and those who move themselves and their belongings from place to place. April’s husband is the first, and she the latter, well that’s my guess. We’ll have to talk more about their preferences before we can take this any further. Oh one last piece of advice I got was don’t miss the Guinness brewery. Face, palm.

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