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self planning a whisky tour

Clitheroe, United...
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self planning a whisky tour

I am planning a tour of some of the whisky distilleries for my partners 40th birthday in June 2014. There would be 6-8 adults going. I would like some advice and ideas of people who have done this or live in the areas or who can offer any recommendations. The trip would be for a long weekend Friday to Monday and ideally would like to stay somewhere central and travel to the distilleries each day - if possible by public transport (if not will have to nominate a driver who wont partake in a dram! ) I would like to incorporate glenlivet as one visit. I would like to do this on a budget as well so would be looking at cheap accommodation options so any help would be very much appreciated .... thankyou in anticipation :-)

Edinburgh, United...
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1. Re: self planning a whisky tour

Hi Rachel. Wth eight people, you would be amazed how little you would spend per person on a driver/guide. I appreciate you want to work with a budget, but you are going to be paying over GBP100 a day for the van for eight of you and only another little bit for a package. Stay in Edinburgh (brilliant place) on Friday night and then spend Saturday and Sunday nights away, with tours and tastings at distilleries on Saturday and Sunday and then back to Edinburgh on the Monday, with maybe another distillery, depending on time available. Glenlivet is up in Speyside, where there are a lot of distilleries you can visit. Three days and two nights including hotel B&B and a driver/guide and van should cost you about £270 each. That is really good when you consider it includes two nights in a three star hotel with breakfasts and your own driver/guide. I suggest you Google "whisky tours Scotland" to see what responses you get, but do not pay more than that. You get all the planning, advice of experts and all the bookings made for you in the price. Try to miss the companies that do whisky tours as part of all the others' tours they do and go for specialists which do whisky tours only. Ignore websites which sell lots of different tours from other companies. Good Luck, Willie

Trondheim, Norway
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2. Re: self planning a whisky tour

Staying in Elgin, Aberlour, Rothes, Craighellachie or Dufftown (my favourite) will put you right inside whisky country.

Using Stagecoach's Whisky Trail bus (stagecoachbus.com/discoverwhiskytrail.aspx) takes you between these towns and their distilleries (Glenfiddich, Benriach, Balvenie, Aberlour, Glen Moray, Macallan, Glen Grant are among those accepting visitors) and Speyside Cooperage. Short hop to Keith (Strathisla) and Forres (Benromach)

The only time I've rented a van to visit Speyside I used Parctical Car & Van Rental, and checking with them now it seems you can get a 9 seater for £75 a day.

If you want someone to drive you around and act as a guide I've heard good things from people using About Speyside (http://www.aboutspeyside.com) - a local lad.

In Dufftown there are several B&B's with prices from £25 pp/n - here for the selection: www.dufftown.co.uk/accommodation_bandb.php

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3. Re: self planning a whisky tour

I like Celticlegend's idea of stopping by Edinburgh on the way to/from your Whisky tour and hiring your own guide.

Here's a couple other thoughts...

- I'd definitely plan to see about hiring a driver for the tour, that's of course, unless you have a member of your party that doesn't mind being "designated driver". I've seen a few recommendation for drivers in the area. Is it Marcie (may be wrong?) that has done this several times. She'll no doubt drop in.

- Here is a website that shows you a map of distilleries, plus a short write up on the distillery, hours, costs, etc..


- You mentioned Glenlivet, so I suggest that you focus touring on the Speyside. That's good because there are dozens of distilleries in the area. BTW, this website is hardly a complete list, but it could get you started.

- Also, unless you are a bit of a manufacturing wonk, your tours will tend to run together after a few. THe process is almost exactly the same from distillery to distillery. I'd suggest that you perhaps look at a large-scale production facility like Glenfiddich or MacAllen and a very small scale one like Oban or Edradour in Oban and Pitlochry (though neither is in Speyside (Pitlochry is on the way from Edinburgh)). After a large and small facility (and of course personal favorites), I'd focus on places with nice gardens, locale and sample room. One other consideration, Single Malt whiskies vs. blended whiskies.

- Also, you may want to look into a "conniseur's tour" (sorry-sp?). Again, the process is pretty consistent from distillery to distillery, with most of the malting process and barrel making now done off-site by 3rd parties. I believe The Balvanie in Dufftown still have their own malting floor and cooperage onsite. I think this should be more interesting than your standard $5 or free tour, however, it is much more expensive - also need to schedule it. They also have a more extensive tasting!

Alternatively, maybe a stop at the Speyside Cooperage?

- I haven't stayed in either the Craigellachie or Highlander Hotels in Craigellachie, but I've seen both mentioned many times. THey are smack in the middle of Speyside (probably public transport, cheap taxi fare or walking distance from several distilleries. They both have a very extensive list of whiskies in the bar.

- Now if you stay in Edinburgh, you could take a bit of a pub tour. I'd start at the Bow Bar because of their extensive list. It's also just up the street from Grassmarket...

- Swing by Grassmarket for a bite to eat, then over to the Beehive Inn to join in on the Literary Pub Tour. This is great fun and visits 4 pubs while walking across town and getting entertained all the way.


- If you are looking to make a special purchase, you can buy at a distillery, but if you are staying in Edinburgh, you may want to swing into the Royal Mile Whisky or Cadenhead's. Maybe a nice cask strength bottle for your partner's birthday?

- Finally, I mentioned the Bow Bar the hotel bars. If you are really into your whiskies the great thing here is that they have a huge assortment of expressions - same rare and expensive, some not. But, you can sample something you've never had before with each dram. Nice!

Hope this is useful,


Edited: 12:05 pm, December 02, 2013
Edinburgh, United...
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4. Re: self planning a whisky tour

Some good advice from both whiskytraveler and Kevin. www.aboutspeyside.com looks quite interesting, though be aware his vehicle will only take up to seven passengers. He is local and has that whisky industry background to a certain extent. His charge for a day for seven is probably about what you should be paying for a driver/guide and 9-seater van out of Edinburgh, but then you have to get to Speyside first, if you use him. Try www.whisky-tours-scotland.com Based in Edinburgh and they not only recommend distilleries, hotels and other scenic and historical stops, they place all the bookings, so from arrival to return to Edinburgh, it is all agreed in advance and sorted out by them.

Balvenie do not do tours at the weekend or on Friday afternoon, which is a shame as they are the best tours on Speyside. Neither is the Speyside Cooperage open at the weekend, but if you are going to be on Speyside on Sunday night, taking the Monday morning tour at Balvenie is a brilliant idea. Costs about GBP30 , but it lasts nearly three hours and is the most comprehensive of all Speyside tours and tastings (five excellent drams), even visiting their own cooperage, which no other tour does.

www.garthhotel.com in Grantown on Spey is great value at GBP95 per twin room for B&B. Warm, friendly, cosy and great food.

The Stunning...
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5. Re: self planning a whisky tour

Worth checking out for reasonable accommodation is http://www.highrange.co.uk/hotel

Fife, United Kingdom
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6. Re: self planning a whisky tour


This may help from another thread


Woody x

7. Re: self planning a whisky tour

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