This year we decided to do something different for our anniversary. We both enjoy a spot of whisky and have been wanting to visit the whisky heartland for years, so we decided to bite the bullet and head north towards Scotlands malt whisky trail. Speyside is home to more than half of Scotlands whisky distilleries. We tried to fit in as many as we could in our short stay.
The beauty with staying in this country is that we can also be joined by our naughty pooch, who like us, loves exploring, new adventures and is partial to a road trip also.
We always enjoy heading north as the roads are so much quieter than heading south, so the journey is far less stressful. As we were technically tourists our first stop was the Battle of Bannockburn. The new visitor centre looked great, but the monument at the top of the hill was fantastic, I was sceptical at first as I am not a huge fan of 'touristy' sites but I was so glad we visited. The bonus being we could let Milo out to stretch his legs.
This is where the fun starts! We passed so many distilleries on our final leg to Elgin, stopping at Tullibardine (which was unfortunately closed), Aberfeldy and then Dalwhinnie (where we couldnt resist any more, so took a dram to help us on our way!)
We finally arrived at our first stop, Mossyard Cottages, Roseisle (booked on Air B 'n' B). It was a fantatic location, so peaceful and quiet, the owners were so friendly, provided lots of information on the surrounding areas, and it was in the middle of a Christmas tree field!
That night we went out for tea, with Milo in tow, to the lovely coastal village called Finhorn. The food at The Kimberley Inn was brilliant and the atmosphere in the pub was great.
On our first day we thought we we would introduce ourselves into the whisky slowly, so we took a walk along Roseisle beach. We were gobsmacked at how beatiful it was. The sun was shining, the beach was spotless, we had to remind ourselves we were still in Scotland. That afternoon we toured around Ben Romach which was fantastic. It is not a whisky we had come across before, but is now one of our favourites. As it is not as well known, the tour group was small so we got to see far more of the distillery, along with being able to ask more questions than you would normally. Having then tasted it, we couldn't leave without buying a bottle. That was where it all started!
The next day we jumped in with both feet. Our first visit was to Glenfiddich distillery, one of the most famous there is. The tour was very informative, but due to the poplularity, the groups were very large and had to be split up depending on the nationalities. The tour was very in depth and lasted nearly two hours, going into every detail of the whisky making process, including the bottling, which no other tour we have been on has ever done before. We then headed back via the gift shop where we purchased a bottle of 15 year old, which we bottled and labelled ourselves, and now takes pride of place in our collection.
From here we visited The Macallan, Strathisla and Arbelour to have a look around. The last tour we went on was Glen Grant. A small, less well known distillery, again providing a brilliant tour enabling you to get a real feel for the whisky making process and a tasting at the end. It was fascinating to find out the major consumer of whisky are the italians, and they much prefer younger, fresher whiskies so choose to drink a 5 year old, where as we (UK) prefer older, more matured bottles.
After all of the travelling, we headed back to our cottage for tea, a couple of drams and an early night ready to hit the road on the next day.
We took the scenic route to Berwick Upon Tweed, acrosss the highlands so we could take in the magnificent scenery. We also managed to get in a few final distillery stops, The Glenlivet, Glenfarclas and Royal Lochnager which is right next to the entrance to Balmoral. The journey was brilliant, taking in the amazing views, on the quiet country roads.
One we arrived at our accomodation in Berwick we were taken aback. We were staying in the gatehouse to Ayton Castle. It was absolutley amazing. The gatehouse has been refurbished to brilliant specification, and we were even allowed to close the gates at the end of the day and open them up again in the morning. See here.
The final morning we packed the car and headed home tired from all of the exploring. It was one of the best holidays we have had, packed so much into a few days and got to experience places we would never have been able to had we gone abroad. We will definately be returning, if you have any suggestions for the distilleries we didn't manage to visit, please comment below.