World Whisky Day
World Whisky Day takes place on the 20th of May this year. It’s a global celebration of the joys of Scotland’s greatest export and a brilliant excuse to indulge yourself. Islay and Speyside malts are famous the world over but there has been a resurgence of late in some of the previously unfashionable whisky producing areas. Here are some hidden gems for you try, some spectacular but unheralded single malts and some equally distinctive places to enjoy them.
Campbeltown is unique in that it is the only town instead of a larger region that has its own official designation. This is because of the long and rich distilling tradition here that meant it was once referred to as the whisky capital of the world with over 28 distilleries in production. The malts here are famed for their smoky, oily character with the proximity to the sea giving them a slight salty tang. This years Campbeltown Malts Festival starting on the 24th of May would be a perfect introduction, with open days at the main distilleries, cask samplings and tasting masterclasses from some of the most respected names in the field.
The Kintyre peninsula is a magical place to escape to, and with a new regular ferry service from Ardrossan it has never been easier to get there. Kirkland House is only a short drive from the ferry and the attractions of Campbeltown but also offers easy access to one of the most famous beaches in the country at Machrihanish.
Fife has never traditionally been a major whisky producer but with the establishment of three new distilleries its reputation is slowly growing. The emphasis here is on small scale production and boutique micro distilling. Voted by Tripadvisor as the top visitor attraction in St Andrews the Eden Mill Distillery offers tours as well as a gift shop stocked with their own whisky blends, artisan gins and beers.
St Andrews, as well as being the home of golf, has one of the most impressively stocked whisky bars in the country at the Road Hole Bar. With over 300 whiskies to choose from you are unlikely to be lacking inspiration for the duration of your holiday. Fortunately it’s only a short walk from here to the Georgian splendour of Balfour House, a luxury apartment that also gives you easy access to the beach and golf course.
Lowland ladies is the name given to the malt whiskies produced in the south of Scotland. Typically these are lighter style single malts with malty, zesty flavours with slightly fruity, citrusy and sometimes floral notes. Established in 1836 Annandale is one of the oldest operational distilleries in Scotland, predating Glenfiddich by over 50 years. Now producing whisky again, after a period of inactivity, the distillery is open every day for tours and has a coffee shop and retail outlet where you can pre order one of the first batch of casks to be distilled. Berryburn is just a few miles away and has an open fire, the perfect place to relax with friends after attending a wedding.
Glenkinchie Distillery is 180 years old this year, its picturesque location in an idyllic landscape of rolling barley fields close to the heart of the East Lothian golf trail makes it a popular day trip for visiting golfers, but its reputation is slowly spreading further. The visitor centre and shop offer tours year round and give you an opportunity to sample the light, fruity, dry Edinburgh Malt that this area is famous for, made with water from the nearby Lammermuir Hills.
You don’t have to be a golfer to visit this scenic coastline though, in addition to the miles of sandy beaches you could take the family to see Concorde at the acclaimed Museum of Flight, check out a number of ruined castles or hop on a train to Edinburgh. Watch the sun set over the sea with your hip flask for the perfect end to the day out then walk back to the comfort of Denfind House.
Located in Wigtown, Bladnoch is the southernmost distillery in Scotland. Founded over 200 years ago the distillery here uses as much local produce as possible to give a true taste of Dumfries and Galloway. The pure waters of the Bladnoch River and malt from the gently rolling farmland here provides the raw ingredients for possibly the most under-appreciated dram in Scotland. The coastline around here is one of the most overlooked holiday spots in the country. Craigie Knowes at Rockcliffe is a classic example of a luxury Victorian villa with spectacular views over the Solway Firth. Tranquil but still accessible, it has a massive conservatory which makes the perfect year round spot for a wee dram and some quiet contemplation. Sea views and luxury make the perfect accompaniments.