The first order of business when discussing Scotch is to note that in Scotland, they call it “whisky” and not “whiskey”. Having said that, in order for a whisky to be categorized as “Scotch”, it must have been both distilled and matured in Scotland. It has to do with the air in the part of Scotland where it was matured. There are some Scotch aficionados out there who can actually accurately detect this. There is no such thing as “Icelandic Scotch”.
There are five distinct varieties of Scotch whisky, and they are distilled and matured in five areas of Scotland. These areas are Campbeltown, Highlands, Islay, Lowlands, and Speyside. The five types of Scotch whisky are Blended Scotch whisky, Single Grain Scotch whisky, Single Malt Scotch whisky, and Single Cask Malt.
There are 25 distilleries in the Highlands, and they all have tour packages. Some have tours several times a day, and all a visitor has to do is join up with one as it leaves. With others, a reservation is required, and still others will only reserve tours for groups. Some of them will even do party bookings (That sounds like a good time.), and what they call “connoisseur tours” – but only by reservation. Many of these sites have sophisticated visitor centers. There are entry fees, the average seeming to be 5 pounds. Some distilleries specifically mention special tour rates for children, while others make no mention whatsoever. It is probably a good idea to call ahead about this in order to avoid a misunderstanding.
One thing to consider when choosing a distillery tour is location. Some distilleries, such as the Park Malt Whisky Distillery are in remote locations. There are no listed hotels nearby nor are there any more nearby distilleries.
But don’t discount a visit based solely on this point. The Highland Park distillery has the distinction of being the northernmost Scotch whisky distillery in the world and has a great relationship with residents in the Orkney area. But a visit here may require a little extra planning and research as regards to places to stay and places to eat.
And remember that the air has an impact on the taste. For those who “know their Scotch”, the location of a particular distillery lends an extra aura of intrigue. Even for those who know nothing about the various types of Scotch, just getting to some of these locations could be a rewarding experience. After all Scotland is Scotland – and the Scottish Highlands is known for its spectacular scenery.