The Best Whisky Distilleries in Scotland

Unlike in America, whisky is spelled without the “e” in Scotland—but that’s not the only difference. Learn about what makes a single malt and other interesting facts by visiting one of Scotland’s best distilleries, many of which are located on the Isle of Islay. Several are even surrounded by great natural beauty, meaning you can sip your Scotch while enjoying the scenery.

Port Askaig, Isle of Islay PA46 7RL, UK
Pronounced cull-EE-la, this little-known distillery commands a picturesque position on the northeastern shores of Islay, overlooking the Sound of Islay and the Paps of Jura. Here, distillers tend to six copper stills, producing whisky for blended brands as well as their own peaty single malts. Visitors can tour the distillery to learn all about the whisky-making process, or enjoy a variety of tastings, from whisky and chocolate pairings to some of the distillery’s cask-strength expressions.
Tarbert, Isle of Harris HS3 3DJ, UK
New to the Isle of Harris, this is one of Scotland’s more promising distilleries to open in recent years. Here, five local men, trained from scratch in the art of distilling, are working hard to create a whisky of real provenance. You’ll have to wait a few more years to try The Hearach, but it’s made from the softest of Hebridean waters and aged in only the best bourbon barrels from carefully chosen Kentucky distillers, promising a dram with a signature Isle of Harris taste. In the meantime, visit the distillery to taste its popular gin (made with everything from traditional juniper berries to sea kelp) and tour its modern facilities, located right on the harbor in the town of Tarbert.
Ballindalloch AB37 9BT, UK
The granddaddy of Speyside whiskies, The Glenlivet is acclaimed for its balance and perfect finish. Around since 1824, the distillery has endured years of drama and intrigue, but continues to produce some of the world’s favorite spirits. Today, visitors can come for the Classic Tour, which includes a stop in the traditional bonded warehouse to see the racked casks of slowly maturing malts, and a toast to founder George Smith with a signature dram. Also open to guests are tastings of new-make spirits and rarer single malts, as well as a variety of walking trails where you can explore the landscape that was once a battleground for illicit distillers and excisemen.
More from AFAR
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
AFAR Journeys
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: United States
Journeys: Sports + Adventure