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Where Is the Whisky Trail In Scotland? (Everything You Need To Know)

Updated: Jan 26

Over the centuries, Scotland has gained international renown for the quality and distinctive character of its Scotch malt whisky and has made the country itself a place of pilgrimage for whisky distillers and enthusiasts alike.

Scotland, travel advisor, Whisky Trail, Erin Smith, luxuy travel, empty nester, Cultivating Connections Travel Planners, Oklahoma
Where Is the Whisky Trail In Scotland? (Everything You Need To Know)

The region of Speyside in particular has earned the name ‘The Whisky Trail’, due to the close proximity and longevity of seven distilleries in the area, all of them producing acclaimed Speyside whisky for a worldwide market.

But what exactly is the whisky trail, and what is the history behind it?

The Whisky Trail

The most famous whisky trail for tourists to follow begins in Forres, working its way up through the Highlands. The region boasts over half the whisky distilleries in the country and has around 50 in total.

The trail focuses on seven distilleries, as well as a museum and an old cooperage - where the barrels are made - all spread throughout the region.

While within a manageable distance of one another, it is advisable to set aside a few days to properly experience them all.

1. Benromach

Founded in 1898, Benromach distillery is situated near Forres, Morayshire, fed with spring water from the nearby Chapelton Springs - an ingredient that gives the whisky its distinct flavor.

With a complex and storied history, which includes bankruptcy, the outbreak of the First World War, and a series of different acquisitions throughout the 20th century, the company finally ceased distillation in 1983, where it stood empty for a decade, before Gordon and MacPhail took over the site in 1993, remaining in charge to this day.

2. Dallas Dhu

Translated to ‘Black Water Valley’ in Gaelic, Dallas Dhu was a former distillery near the town of Forres.

While no longer producing, Dallas Dhu operates as a museum for tourists of the whisky trail, and acts as a reminder of the uncertain and complex history of Scottish whisky production, providing visitors with information on the processes, regional traditions, and ingredients involved.

3. Glen Moray

An internationally known brand, the Glen Moray distillery is the third stop on the trail and is located near the town of Elgin, where it sits on the banks of the River Lossie.

Beginning as a brewery in the village, Glen Moray became a distillery in 1897, where like many of its counterparts it suffered during the first half of the 20th century.

After being purchased by the Glenmorangie Company Ltd, it finally became part of La Martiniquais, which uses the distillery, along with one in West Lothian, to produce its Label 5 whisky.

4. Glen Grant

One of the more interesting origins of the distilleries on this list, the Glen Grant distillery was founded in 1840 in the town of Rothes, by the Grant brothers - two illegal distillers and distributors, who decided to go straight and take out a distilling license.

The company remained in the family line until 1931 when the final Grant passed away.

After this point, the distillery changed hands amongst several owners, including the conglomerate of Hill, Thomson & Co Ltd, the Chivas Brothers Ltd (who produced the Chivas Regal brand of malt whisky), before falling under the ownership of the Campari Group in 2005.

5. Strathisla

The oldest continually operating distillery in Scotland, Strathisla was founded in 1786 in Keith, Moray.

Initially opened as a money-making alternative to the failing flax industry in the region, the land was leased from the Earl of Seafield, and by the 1950s, had experienced a varied history of ownership, before finally falling under the Chivas Brothers Ltd, where it remains to this day.

6. Glenfiddich

Arguably the most famous on this list, Glenfiddich is an internationally acclaimed brand of Speyside scotch whisky.

Founded in 1886 by William Grant in Dufftown, the distillery was based in a glen by the River Fiddich, from which it gained both its water source, and its long-lasting name.

After beginning supply from Christmas Day 1887, Glenfiddich had a series of successes, even when similar companies struggled or failed entirely.

As one of the few distilleries to prosper through the 1920s prohibition in the US, and one of the first to employ advertising campaigns to salvage falling profits during the 50s and 60s, the company went from stride to stride, remaining a popular brand today.

7. Speyside Cooperage

Opened in 1947, the Speyside Cooperage is located in Craigellachie, Aberlour, where it acts as the visitor’s center for the Whisky Trail, as well as a functioning cooperage, producing many of the casks for the region's distillers.

8. Cardhu

Founded in 1824 near Archiestown, Moray, by former whisky smuggler John Cumming and his wife Helen.

Built atop the steep Mannoch Hill, they would keep an eye out for approaching police, upon which Helen would cover herself in flour to mask the smell, tell them it was a bakery, and offer them tea - while raising a flag to warn the other distilleries in the region.

After the death of the Cummings, William Grant took ownership, before being purchased by Johnnie Walker & Sons, who it remains with to this day.

9. The Glenlivet

The final stop on the trail, The Glenlivet distillery was founded in 1824 near Ballindalloch, Moray. The oldest legal distillery in the region, the company has remained successful, closing only briefly during the onset of the Second World War.

The largest-selling single malt Scotch whisky in the United States, and the second biggest seller globally, Glenlivet is now owned by the Chivas Brothers Ltd, itself a subsidiary of Pernod Richard.

And there we have it, everything you need to know about the Scottish Whisky Trail, and the prominence of Speyside whisky, not only on a national level but internationally as well.

Despite hard times in the region, and various trials and tribulations that have seen countless distilleries close for good, the ones on this list prove the resilience and quality of the whisky the region continues to produce.

To find out more, check out my homepage HERE.

Or you can just give me a call at 405.310.7588.

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