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This post looks at the famous Speyside whisky region in Scotland, providing a virtual tour of the acclaimed Speyside Distilleries.
They call whisky liquid sunshine. With all the rain in the lush land of Scotland, it’s no wonder they’ve taken such lengths to perfect the craft of this beloved traditional spirit.
Where is Speyside? Strathspey, the area around the River Spey, is home to one of Scotland’s most famous single malt whisky regions. This is for very good reasons!
This stunning expanse of land is home to fertile valleys, flowing clear rivers and secluded glens. It’s the ideal place for whisky distilleries in Scotland and Speyside is home to over half of all Scotland’s whisky distilleries. This is the highest concentration of whisky distilleries in the country.
For lovers of this amber elixir, a visit to Speyside – located in the Highlands – is a must. If you adore single malt whisky and beautiful places, you’ll find what you’re looking for in Speyside.
Looking to learn more about the incredible distilleries in the Speyside region? Carry on reading for and overview of some of our very favourite Speyside whisky distilleries!
How many Speyside distilleries are there?
Nestled between the wild Highlands to the west, lush Aberdeenshire farmlands east and the breathtaking Cairngorms National Park to the north lies Speyside.
There are exactly fifty Speyside distilleries located in the region as of 15/06/20. These fifty distilleries produce roughly half of Scotland’s whisky, enjoyed by connoisseurs all around the world.
Characterised by a typically sweeter and lighter flavour than other Scotch single malts, Speyside whiskies are notable for their complexity and elegance.
The clear waters, the climate and the passion – they come together here. What they offer is exceptional single malt whisky, with flavours ranging from light and grassy to rich, sweet and sherried.
Learn more about some of our favourite distilleries in the region down below!
Perched alongside the River Spey where it is joined by the Lour Burn, this small intimate distillery can be found.
Aberlour distillery is known for a distinct complexity of flavour and an unmistakable velvety richness. Here you will find both a stunning range of malts and a truly memorable experience.
They offer a Speyside distilleries tour like no other. In their luxurious Fleming rooms the distillery hosts special tastings. The ‘Cask from the Past’ experience offers visitors a unique opportunity to sample drams not found anywhere else.
Unsurprisingly, places and times for this experience fill up fast so make sure to book in advance. Don’t miss out!Check Aberlour Whisky Prices On Amazon
Your options for wonderful whiskies are endless in Speyside but there’s something special about this hidden gem.
Founded in 1967 by Mackinlay McPherson. GlenAllachie Distillery primarily produces Scotch whisky for blends.
GlenAllachie recently changed ownership in 2016 and is now under the experienced hand of Billy Walker.
This Speyside distillery sits nestled at the foot of Ben Rinnes and is open to visitors year-round. Their fantastic tours take you on a journey through an exceptional range of malts, with options to suit any price range.
They even offer the chance to take your own bottle, hand-filled by you straight from the cask!Check GlenAllachie Whisky Prices On Amazon
Here lies the spirit of adventure!
The native Glasgow traveller and inventor, Harvey MacNair, was not only a true Victorian entrepreneur. He also had the knack for blending the finest whiskies.
The story of how Harvey stumbled across the method of blending of Lum Reek is as whimsical as a fairy-tale. An autumn evening in the 1860s, a blocked chimney, and a bit of luck – and there you have it!
Today’s Rum Leek has seen changes through the expertise of Master Blender Billy Walker. But the character of this Scotch whisky and the quality of the flavour remain as wonderful as ever.
MacNair’s Rum Leek is made at the Glen Allachie Distillery.
Cardhu embodies the spirit of a historic Scotland distillery, with a fascinating twist.
It began as an illicit distillery in 1811, founded by Helen Cummings, before gaining its licence in 1824. What makes Cardhu so interesting is that it was the first distillery to be pioneered officially by women!
The single malt matriarch carried on with the daughter-in-law of the founders, Elizabeth Cummings, taking over in 1872.
She made her own mark by refining the character and flavour. Her hard work and determination has given us the incredible, elegant Scotch whisky we know and love today.
They have a fabulous range of tours on offer, starting at only £8 for a simple guided tour. Other tours include guessing games, Scotch whisky tastings and finally a tour specifically for the connoisseurs among you.
Please note Cardhu distillery does not have a visitor centre.Check Cardhu Whisky Prices On Amazon
Whisky fit for a king!
This world renowned whisky had humble beginnings as an illicit distillery in the Speyside region. Perfectly placed out of sight amongst the hills and springs of Livet valley.
George Smith managed to avoid discovery by the Customs Officers and soldier’s in his hideaway. Slowly and carefully he distilled the whisky that would one day be enjoyed all around the world.
In 1822, two years before the distillery would be ‘officially’ founded, King George IV tried the infamous whisky. His visit to Scotland was the perfect opportunity to sample the illegal dram.
If it’s good enough for a king, it’s good enough for us!Check Glenlivet Whisky Prices On Amazon
Speyside malts are renowned worldwide for their style and quality. If you’re looking for exceptional Speyside malt whiskies, Macallan is one of the top three biggest sellers of the Speyside brands.
So prominent within the industry is this modest sized distillery that it features on the back of the £10 Bank of Scotland note!
Macallan is located on a plateau above the River Spey and surrounded by a gorgeous 485 acre estate. It was one of the first distilleries in Scotland to be legally licenced.
Marvellous variety of taste, incredible quality and fantastic tours await at this historic highlands distillery.Check Macallan Whisky Prices On Amazon
Knockando was named for the small village where it resides. In a charming area surrounded by woods and wildlife.
It was built in 1898 by John Tyler Thompson but today is owned by multinational firm Diageo. Interestingly, it was the first distillery built with electric lighting in Scotland.
Their best-selling malt is adored in France and Spain. The masterful blend of flavours and the undeniably high quality of the whisky bring people back for more, from all around the world!Check Knockando Whisky Prices On Amazon
At Tamdhu, they approach the art of whisky making with their own unique methods. With the admirable mindset of only the best will do, they set out to create something magical.
Speyside was chosen as the perfect location for its long history of producing exceptional whisky. Interestingly, they chose to use the very best sherry casks from Spain, for that extra something special.
Since its beginnings in 1897 Tamdhu has undergone many changes. It’s seen good times, bad times, and even closed in 2010. Since its reopening in 2012 this incredible distillery has found the magic once again.
Today you can purchase their whisky, exclusively matured in the finest sherry oak casts. Truly, only the best.Check Tamdhu Whisky Prices On Amazon
The art of whisky is steeped in tradition and Glenfarclas is a splendid example of this. Here they blend the traditions of whisky making with that of their own family.
The distillery has been owned by the Grant’s since 1865 and even today remains independent and family run. Being one of the few independent distilleries in Scotland is a point of great pride at Glenfarclas.
The visitor centre opened its doors in 1973 and remains just as welcoming in recent years. Their range of tours and tasting cater to all, from the whisky novice to the connoisseurs.Check Glenfarclas Whisky Prices On Amazon
For one of the best Speyside distillery tours in the region, look no further that Balvenie.
This modest Speyside distillery is owned by William Grant & Sons. They produce whisky in the traditional batch process, making use of locally grown barley. Balvenie is also one of seven distilleries in Scotland to have its own malting floor.
Tours here are done with a lot of care. A maximum of 8 people per tour ensures a personalised experience perfectly tailored to you.
Come and meet the expert craftsmen working tirelessly behind the scenes and taste some of their finest Speyside malt whisky.Check Blavenie Whisky Prices On Amazon
Glenfiddich is another maker of world famous whiskies. A truly iconic Speyside distillery and the biggest seller of single malts on the planet.
The third largest producer of Scottish whisky, William Grant & Sons, founded this distillery. Glenfiddich had been operational since 1886 and since its founding has only grown in excellence.
Today an impressive 32 spirit stills operate at the site, with the capacity for 13 million litres. They offer a wonderful tour, complete with whisky tasting!
Come to the Valley of the Deer and see for yourself their enviable mastery of Scotch single malts.Check Glenfiddich Whisky Prices On Amazon
Glen Grant Distillery
Glen Grant is an old name in Speyside whisky making. One of the first highland whisky distilleries to gain their licence, they were a trend setting brand back in the day.
The site was founded in 1840 and houses a stunning Victorian era garden. The garden is enchanting and draws in visitors almost as much as the impressive whisky draws connoisseurs.
With crisp and bright yet wonderfully deep flavours, Glen Grant’s beloved rendition of the ‘water of life’ cannot fail to impress.Check Glen Grant Whisky Prices On Amazon
Surrounded by stretches of green, heather-fields and just a stones throw from the river Spey and the river Fiddich resides Craigellachie.
The distillery was founded in 1891 and today is owned by John Dewar & Sons, a subsidiary of Bacardi. They draw their water from the nearby spring on Conval Hill, which feeds the 3.6 million litre annual capacity.
Craigellachie has an impressive size to match its impressive production volume. But in this case, quantity certainly does not mean a lesser quality. Their whisky is a credit to the reputation of the region.Check Craigellachie Whisky Prices On Amazon
Glen Moray Distillery
This small distillery packs big flavour into their whisky. The whisky here is rich and spicy to taste and expertly matured in barrels once used by the bourbon industry This sets Glen Moray apart for all the right reasons.
The roots of Glen Moray go as far back as 1831, when it was a simple brewery. Not long before the end of the 1800’s they switched to whisky production. Since then, they have been producing high quality, classic Speyside malt.
They offer a range of tours to suit your particular interests, including tastings and a chance to meet the distillery’s dedicated manager – one of just five loyal managers in the distillery’s history!Check Glen Moray Whisky Prices On Amazon
Dailuaine was built in 1851 by William Mackenzie and is one of the largest Speyside single malt distilleries.
Its design is innovative and its name, which means ‘the green vale’ in Gaelic, hints at the beauty of the surrounding land. It also brings to mind the dew-fresh origins of their wonderfully fragrant Speyside single malt scotch whisky.
Dailuaine sits between the flowing river Spey and the foot of Ben Rinnes. Although they are not open to the public, they do grant private tours if you contact them directly.
Dalmunach is one of the newer, more contemporary distilleries.
The vast, sleek modern building is environmentally sympathetic, built in 2014 by Pernod Ricard (Chivas Brothers). The building has received praise for its design efficiency.
This stylish distillery was built upon the former site of the Imperial Distillery, which had fallen into disrepair. It was designed to complement the traditional architectural style of the region as well as the surrounding landscape.
A new but fantastic contributor to the creation of top notch whisky in Speyside!
Hailed as the first single estate distillery in Scotland, Ballindalloch’s story runs as far back as the 16th century.
It sits nestled into a particularly beautiful nook of Spey valley, within the grounds of Ballindalloch Castle. This, perhaps the prettiest of Scotland’s highland distilleries, is also the one that marked the Macpherson-Grant families’ return to the industry.
Ballindalloch harvest their own home grown barley and raise award-winning Aberdeen Angus cattle. With excellent whisky, a beautiful old Scottish castle and highland animals – the spirit of Scotland is here.
What is the best Speyside Whisky?
With so many incredible options for Speyside whisky, it can be hard to narrow down to a favourite. The variety of flavour, method, history – its a Scotch whisky lovers dream.
However, when it comes to picking a champion it makes sense to go with the ‘whisky that started it all’. The iconic name is recognised worldwide and beloved by many – it can only be the Glenlivet.
Please note: this is only a personal opinion and a very very tough call!
Speyside Whisky Tours
Looking to get the full experience with one or more of these exciting Speyside whisky tours? Follow the links below for more details.