My husband, Steve and I just returned from a scotch distillery tour of Scotland, our 3rd trip in 4 years with Jim Johnstone, of JA Johnstone Chauffeur Drive and had a wonderful experience on all trips. We wanted to visit as many distilleries as possible to tour, see production and of course taste single malt whiskies. Since tasting was an important part of our trip and because of the strict drink/driving laws in Scotland, we hired Jim to be our driver/guide and help plan our trip.
Planning came in the form of email correspondence to help us plan our itinerary, places to visit, and suggestions for hotels. Jim would have planned it all, but we preferred for him to provide suggestions and advice since there were distilleries and places we felt we must visit. Jim booked distillery tours and suggested a variety of hotels. I checked them out and reserved rooms via the internet certain that any I chose were personally recommended. Jim would have been happy to do this as well.
On our various trips we visited Edinburgh, Speyside, the Northern Highlands, Skye, and West Coast to Islay. All accomodations were more than adequate, with lots of personality; not impersonal tourist chain hotels. With Jim’s friendly stories, neighborhood restaurants and accomodations, we felt like visitors not tourists and were treated accordingly. We exchanged ideas and opinions with Jim and felt he was our friend and traveling companion rather than just our guide. At the end of each day Jim made sure we were set for the evening with restaurant suggestions and reservations.
We visited distilleries in several of the areas we traveled to. Since we are avid scotch collectors we were interested in tasting single malt scotches that were not available in the United States After visiting the scotch museum at the silent (closed and now a museum) Dallas Dhu Distillery, we had an understanding of the distilling process. Jim took the list of the scotches in our collection to the reception area and introduced us. He then explained that his American collectors were interested in their special malts. This often produced amazing results. This year I made advance reservations for tastings and Jim confirmed the bookings before we arrived in Scotland.
Jim made sure we also saw important sites throughout the country. We enjoyed visiting castles; Dunrobin, Cawder, Ballindolah, and Scone and gardens. We saw gorgeous scenery, visited historic battlefields and learned about the history of Scotland.
We highly recomment touring Scotland, distillery tasting, and most of all, our guide and friend Jim Johnstone. Let me add that Jim and his chauffer service (www.jajcd.com) are members of ASTA and also specialize in day as well as multi-day specialty tours.