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This post takes a deep dive into the very best Scottish Highland Distilleries.
There is a reason that Scotland is known around the world as a maker of incredible spirits. With such a diverse array of tastes and styles – and a yet more diverse legacy of old tales, royal customers and craftsmanship – it is no surprise that the region has only flourished with time.
Some of Scotland’s oldest and most beloved distilleries make their home in the highlands. Stretching between the south, where the Isle of Arran lies, to Orkney in the north; the highlands whisky region is Scotland’s largest.
As you search for whisky perfection in the wild, ever-changing Scottish highlands, you may just find it in a name you have not heard before.
How many Highland distilleries are there?
There are lots of great highland distilleries – 47 altogether!
That is no small number to get through, so to make things a little easier we’ve narrowed our list down to the ones that offer a tour. All whisky lovers adore a good distillery tour!
Each highland distillery has their own way of doing things. To discover more about the histories, methods, tastes and passions to be found in this particularly beautiful part of Scotland, keep on reading!
Pulteney distillery sits nestled on the rugged northern coastline and has a long, grand history of crafting truly exceptional whisky. They take immense pride in the traditional craftsmanship which began in 1826 and continues today, nearly two centuries later.
Every drop of Pulteney whisky captures the wild heart and fresh flavour of the wind and sea. From critically acclaimed limited editions to award winning single malts, this stunning coastal distillery offers truly impressive quality.
Discover more about the story of this seafaring highland distillery on one of their wonderful tours! But make sure to book ahead – the spots fill up quick!
The Scottish Highlands are known worldwide as a place of wild beauty. But there is a softer side to the highlands which Tomatin distillery embodies wholeheartedly.
Tomatin have been contributing top notch highland whisky since 1897, these days enjoyed by people far and wide. The idyllic location and mellow, fruity flavours of their signature spirit really lend themselves to the softened, lighthearted ambience of this excellent highlands whisky distillery.
Today you can discover their fascinating history, try nosing and tasting, and even learn about the importance of cask selection in a tour of the distillery. There are three tours offering a slightly different experience and price range, so there’s something for everyone!
Among the most northernly of the highland Scottish whiskey distilleries is the beloved Wolfburn distillery.
At Wolfburn the craft is everything. Masters of whisky making work their magic here, using the finest ingredients and doing it all by hand. The distillery was founded in 1821 and quickly grew into a recognised producer of malt whisky, winning several coveted awards.
Wolfburn welcomes you to view the inner workings of the distillery on one of their tours. Learn more about how they like to do things and finish off by sampling various malts.
Glenmorangie distillery sits near abundant golden barley fields. It benefits from a tranquil ambience born of its idyllic location along the shore of Dornoch Firth. Here they pride themselves on an unhurried and uncompromising method of whisky making.
Working tirelessly, the master craftsmen have ensured that the vast and distinguished history of the distillery remains, alongside their reputation for excellence.
Their expert guides are on hand to walk you through the intricacies of whisky making. On either of their two tours you can learn new things and taste a wonderful dram – a winning combination!
Just outside of the Speyside region, in picturesque Northeast Scotland, sits the Glenglassaugh distillery.
Glenglassaugh is located on the east end of the enchanting Sandend Bay. Here they have been brewing quality whisky and prospering since the distilleries beginnings in 1875, with plenty of ups and downs along the way. A small, highly skilled team works tirelessly, using traditional distilling methods to create whisky of the highest quality.
Discover more on the tour about how the unique location influences the whisky, the history of the distillery and more!
Blair Athol Distillery
Whisky history stands in the form of Blair Athol distillery. This impressive establishment stands upon one of Scotland’s oldest legal whisky sites.
If you are fond of a smooth finish, vivid fruity flavour and an aroma both deep-toned and marvellously mellow, you will adore Blair Athol whisky.
They offer a range of excellent tours at different prices. With tutored tastings and public or private tours available – there is no better way to spend an afternoon.
Said to be the smallest traditional whisky distillery in Scotland, Edradour dates right back to 1825. You can find it in the charming little village of Edradour, surrounded by picturesque scenery and steeped in history.
It remains one of a dwindling number of Scottish highland distilleries who hand make their single malt scotch whisky. The distillery is truly a gem and offers a wonderful experience to all who visit.
Looking for a guided tour? Whisky tasting experience? Or perhaps planning a corporate event? Search not more – at Edradour they’ve got it covered.
Glen Garioch Distillery
Glen Garioch is one of the oldest operating whisky distilleries in Scotland. Nestled in the heart of Oldmeldrum, a quaint market town near Aberdeen, this old gem produces its mighty malts with pride.
Since 1797 they have been perfecting the art of whisky, producing small precious batches in their secluded highland oasis. Glen Garioch boasts a unique mix of flavours, combining wholesome maltiness with a sweet, honeyed taste.
They offer a wonderful tasting and touring experience. One which brings casual whisky lovers and connoisseurs alike back, again and again. But be sure to book ahead as the spots fill up fast!
Just a stone’s throw from the sea, huddled under steep cliffs overlooking the town of Oban, lies Oban distillery.
One of the more adored highland scotch distilleries, Oban distillery – first built in 1794 – is ideal for tourists. Many visitors have raved about the amazing tours available here.
They offer three different tours ranging from a very reasonable £12 to a lavish (but well worth it) £200 tour. Novices, whisky connoisseurs and distillery enthusiasts welcome!
Royal Brackla Distillery
In 1812 The Brackla distillery was built on the sprawling estate of Cawdor Castle. Their whisky was enjoyed so thoroughly by King William IV it was selected to be his whisky at the Royal Court. This led to The Brackla distillery becoming one of just three to be awarded the royal warrant.
It is not hard to see why the king was so fond of the fresh, fruity flavours and clean acidity of this excellent whisky. They pull out all the stops to ensure the quality of the whisky remains legendary.
Visit the distillery to find out more about what makes the liquid sunshine brewed here fit for a king!
Glen Ord Distillery
Glen Ord distillery is a favourite for visitors to the highlands looking to experience a highland whisky distillery tour. Whisky lovers from all around come to enjoy one of their fantastic tours or sample a dram of their exceptional whisky.
Blending water from the White Burn with barley from the Black Isle, Glen Ord brings us rich flavours, an intoxicating aroma and a beautiful vibrant colour.
They offer an impressive range of tours to fit any price range. Beginning at £3 for a simple expedition ending with a taster, to £100 for a more extravagant experience.
Just a stone’s throw from the site of the King of Scotland’s coronation lies Strathearn Distillery.
This relative newcomer of the Scottish highlands distilleries was founded in 2013. They are modern and innovative, keeping flexibility at their core as they branch out into producing gin and rum, as well as whisky.
Scotland’s newest micro distillery has plenty to offer that visitors will adore. Whether you’re looking for a simple tour, to try your hand at distilling or to become a club member, you will find what you’re after!
A love of nature and the spirit of Scotland are at the heart of how they do things at Nc’nean distillery.
Their approach to whisky making is unique and conscientious, steeped in a true adoration of the natural world. At Nc’nean they use only organic barley, and power their distillery and everything inside through renewable energy.
There is more to Nc’nean than meets the eye. Not only can you explore the distillery and discover more about their unique way of doing things, there is also an opportunity to enjoy the surrounding land.
The distillery is located in a truly beautiful area. With long stretches of glistening coast, lush nature walks and opportunities to spot the vibrant local wildlife.
Located on the fringes of the highlands – in the far south-east of the famous Speyside region – there is Ardmore distillery. It was built in 1894 and has since flourished.
Ardmore has remained a celebrated maker of Scottish highland whisky, embracing a love of the great outdoors in every drop. They have a range of flavours to suit any palate and have never wavered in the impressive quality of the liquid sunshine they produce.
A highland whisky tour at Ardmore should be booked in advance, so make sure to secure your spot as soon as possible – they fill up quickly!
Creative, quirky and experimental by nature, Arbikie distillery is a family owned producer of high quality spirits. The distillery became fully operational in 2014 and quickly branched into vodka and gin alongside their production of classic single malt whiskies.
The distillery is small in size but has already made a considerable splash, drawing plenty of interest. Arbikie produce their spirits in the traditional highland style but with an added – and very welcome – twist of a coastal flair.
It won’t be long before you can plan your trip to tour the distillery. Here you can discover more about the ingredients, craft and people who make it all happen. With passionate, knowledgeable guides just waiting to bring you along on a truly authentic experience.
Ben Nevis Distillery
Located just beneath the highest mountain in the British Isles, Ben Nevis, lies the appropriately named Ben Nevis distillery.
It is one of the oldest licenced distilleries in Scotland, founded in 1825. They offer a truly impressive range of flavours to choose from, each one as rich, beautifully scented and high quality as the last.
Their tours are reasonably priced and very informative. Even your taster at the end comes with a lesson of the best way to sample the whisky!
Fettercairn is a part of the tapestry of the history of highland whisky distilleries.
In 1824, the founder Sir Alexander Ramsay was among the first to apply for a Scotch Whisky distillation licence. He was also part of the campaign by Scottish landowners to introduce whisky distillation licenses in the first place.
With their unique copper cooling ring distillation process and use of crystal clear mountain water, it is evident that they strive for excellence at Fettercairn.
The tours are tailored to you. Under 18s can join the tour for free, over 18s pay and receive a delicious dram of whisky at the end. For drivers, your taster can be taken to go so you can enjoy it at home.
BrewDog have hit the spirits scene with their new venture, Lone Wolf distillery – founded in 2007. Straight out of the gate this newcomer is primed to stretch the boundaries of what a distillery is and can be.
A natural progression for this beer Goliath, Lone Wolf marks the dive into the spirits industry. Beginning with their own all-grain distilled vodka, all the way to bespoke whiskies, gins and more.
Take a tour through the Lone Wolf distillery and see all of the inspiring innovation for yourself!
Balblair distillery embodies the spirit of the highlands at its core. The whisky they make reflects the passion and pride that generations of skilled craftsmen have contributed.
Nestled beneath the long shadow cast by Struie Hill, near the bonnie banks of Dornoch Firth. Balblair benefits from some of the most enchanting, unspoiled scenic surroundings of any highland distillery, making it a beautiful place to visit.
They run tours most of the year, drawing whisky lovers from far and wide. Make sure you book ahead so you don’t miss out!
At Glengoyne they take pride in using the finest casks and the slowest stills in Scotland. Here they produce whisky with bold flavours and stunning complexity.
The Glengoyne way involves a strong commitment to the environment and a true passion for the craft.
To learn more about all the work and passion that goes into making such fabulous spirits, try embarking on a tour of their distillery out of the impressive range they offer. From a 45 minute standard tour at £12.50, all the way up to a 5 hour masterclass at £160. There’s something to suit any whisky lover.
Deanston distillery sits near the entrance to the lovely Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.
The distillery was transformed from a cotton mill to a distillery in the 1960’s. Since then, they have stuck to traditional distilling methods to produce excellent whisky. They take great pride in their fruity, softly sweetened, slightly spiced, distinctly malty honeyed flavours.
The distillery is home to a charming little cafe offering delicious lunch favourites, as well as cakes and hot drinks. They run tours every hour on the hours so if you miss one, just relax with a coffee till the next tour rolls around!
The founding of Dornoch’s very first whisky distillery came from the combined effort of whisky lovers worldwide. An initial successful crowdfunding endeavour in 2016 saw 250 of them come together, money in hand, to secure the much anticipated Dornoch distillery spirits.
Nowadays this organic highlands distillery excels in the making of sumptuous single malt and splendid gin.
Take a tour of both the old and new Dornoch distillery sites. Learn more about the Thompson Bros’ and their process, finishing off with a tasting.
GlenWyvis was established in 2015 and sits nestled just below the looming form of Ben Wyvis mountain. The town of Dingwall, where the distillery resides, has a long and proud history of distilling. This tradition saw its revival – after a 90 year absence – in GlenWyvis.
As well as their old school roots, GlenWyvis also have a decidedly modern ethos for sustainability. They employ wind, solar, hydro and biomass energy to keep their operation powered.
Due to their location, physical tours of the distillery have been a difficult endeavour to make happen. While they continue to work on this problem, however, GlenWyvis have created an incredible virtual tour!
This old gem was established in 1775, one of the first single malt distilleries drawn to be built near Turret Burn for its clear, soft, pure waters.
In its time, Glenturret has made it through rough periods, US prohibition and the Great Depression among them. Their genuinely handmade whisky has stood the test of time for its exceptional quality and taste.
A tour of the distillery will cost you only £10 for an hour of fun, and can be booked online. Their distillery experience takes you along to learn all about the traditional art of whisky making, hosted by knowledgeable and passionate guides. Ending with a tasting of two whiskies from Glenturret’s excellent range.
In a rural corner of the Highlands stands Clynelish whisky distillery, built in 1967. Although we tend to look to regions like Speyside and Islay when considering the homes of great whisky, Scotland’s far north-east – where Clynelish whisky comes from – is not to be counted out.
Connoisseurs know what they like and it is true that many of them champion Clynelish single malt even above more famous names. Clynelish whisky has a splash of coastal flair, only a very mild hint of Islay style smokiness, and is crisp, clean, and medium-bodied.
You can take a guided tour of the distillery, alone or with a group. The tour ends with a dram of 14 year old, finest Clynelish single malt which you can savour as you take in the breathtaking views of the North Sea.
You can find Tullibardine distillery in the charming village of Blackford, often referred to as the gateway to the Highlands. Here they have been producing some of the finest handcrafted highland single malt whisky for decades.
The distillery is family owned and independent. Tullibardine takes particular interest in the future, taking pride in crafting ‘pure highland gold’ to be enjoyed in years to come.
For an insight into the passion of Tullibardine and the art of their distillation process, come along for a tour! They have a selection of tours and tastings to suit everyone, from the novice whisky lovers to the seasoned experts.
Just along from the Moray Firth on the River Deveron’s banks sits the seaside distillery of Macduff. Named for the fishing port it resides in, Macduff has a sleek, classic, functional and distinctly Delme-Evans style design.
Macduff was founded in 1958, making it one of the newer distilleries in Speyside. They were poised to capitalise in the whisky boom which soared post-war, where exportation of the spirit increased threefold.
Today they offer a truly impressive range of spectacular whiskies. People all around the world adore the whisky they produce for its high quality and excellent flavours and aromas.
Twin River Distillery
Image Credit: © eastlinalba 2016Twin River distillery was launched in 2017 to capitalise on the craft spirits ‘boom’ of interest. This spike in interest was for gin and whisky in particular.
Twin River is a part of the Deeside Brewery, and they make their spirits exclusively in-house. Due to the extensive knowledge of the expert craftsmen and the on site equipment they have, the distillery has flourished. They are considered to be one of only a few authentic Scottish gin producers.
If you fancy dropping in to visit this charming micro distillery, make sure to plan ahead so you don’t miss out if it’s busy!
Royal Lochnagar Distillery
Located on the edge of the regal and very beautiful Balmoral estate, Royal Lochnager distillery produces fabulous whisky. Their productions may be on a rather small scale, but their product packs an undeniable punch.
The fresh clear waters of the Scarnock springs are harnessed by this impressive little distillery. It was founded way back in 1845, and today sits pride of place at the foot of the towering Cairngorm mountains.
They offer three great tours to suit everyone, each one ending with you enjoying a fine dram.
Here at Ardnamurchan distillery they take great pride in the two styles of spirit they have perfected, one of which is peated and the other unpeated. Their malt is wonderfully full flavoured and follows a rigorous process.
While taking tradition to heart in their flavours and methods, Ardnamurchan are distinctly modern in the eco-conscious way they operate. Unusually for the whisky industry, they use renewable power to run the distillery.
They offer four different tours, from a standard tour at only £8 to a managers tour and tasting at £40 per person. You can easily find one to suit you and your party perfectly.
Glencadam distillery is one of Scotland’s oldest, so they’ve had plenty of time to perfect the craft. Established in 1825, it is the only remaining distillery in Angus, which is a county in the Highlands region.
Glencadam is a multi-award winning whisky distillery. Despite a nearly 200 run in the industry, this undiscovered gem has only fairly recently been recognised as a key player in the making of magnificent Scottish single malt.
To experience the distillery in all its glory and learn more about the extensive range of whisky come along for the tour. Appointments only!
Dalmore distillery has a long heritage full of prestige, with roots as far back as 1263 and the rule of King Alexander III. Dalmore have always held exceptionally high standards when it comes to whisky craftsmanship.
The expert whisky distillers of Dalmore are at the core of the distilleries incredible reputation for brilliance, influence and quality. No doubt each one is inspired by the long unbroken history and the gorgeous stretch of Scottish coastline they call home.
If you know your whisky and have a passion for the industry, you will love the intimate tours offered by Dalmore. Come and learn more about their exceptional single malt and all that goes into making it.
Teaninich distillery is an ancient yet little known distillery in the Highlands. For a good while it was even the only whisky distillery in the area of north Inverness to have telephones and electricity.
Their flavors are fresh, leafy and have a distinct earthiness that whisky lovers from all around adore. Teaninich whisky is warming and holds within each and every drop a comforting homeliness.
Teaninich is not always open to the public and they do not run regular tours. However, they have been known to open their doors on special occasions. So make sure you keep your eyes peeled for the next opportunity!
Loch Lomond Distillery
Located near the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond and entwined in the histories of 6 Celtic clans, Loch Lomond distillery is a true gem.
Above all, the distillery embodies the rich spirit of both Scotland and the age-old art of whisky-making.
Set in an area well endowed with natural beauty, Loch Lomond distillery has produced various brands and bottling’s in their time. Every single one of them with their own special charm and distinct character.
Just on the outskirts of the charming village of Aberfeldy and along from the River Tay lies Aberfeldy distillery. The clear waters from The Pitilie Burn flow into the river and are still used today to make their whisky.
Due to the extra long fermentation process and the proximity of beautiful rolling Perthshire hills, Aberfeldy whisky is renowned. Their distinct honeyed richness makes for a very popular single malt.
They offer a great range of tours to suit every experience level and price range. From a single guided tour and tasting all the way up to a luxurious, once a month exclusive whisky experience.
GlenDronach distillery, founded in 1826, sits in the valley of Forgue. It prides itself on being one of the very first licenced distilleries and has since its beginnings produced top notch highland whiskey.
GlenDronach crafts a heavy, rich and robust spirit in true highland style. Unsurprisingly – due to the complex, elegant character and marvellous depth of flavour – GlenDronach’s range is award-winning.
They run guided tours regularly through the day at GlenDronach. There are a few different tours to choose from and, if you find yourself between slots, an excellent gift shop!