Moray Speyside is home to some of Scotland’s most beautiful scenery and lush landscapes. However, the region is perhaps better known for being the home of Malt Whisky, over half of all of Scotland’s whisky distilleries can be found in Moray Speyside.
Situated in between Inverness and Aberdeen, the region spreads from the rugged Moray coastline down towards the famous Cairngorms National Park. The River Spey, Scotland’s fastest flowing river, carves its way through the region, starting in the Cairngorm mountains before finally joining the sea at Spey Bay on the Moray Coast. The majority of our distilleries are dotted throughout the glens surrounding this iconic water source.
The area’s rich supply of pure water and beautiful inland setting help to produce smooth and complex whiskies that provide an elegant contrast to the heavily peated whiskies that are produced by distilleries in other regions. Moray Speyside whiskies can often be identified by their sweet and fruity notes. However, hints of nuts and malt are also common, with some whiskies possessing a refined smokiness.
Travel the Trail – Discover historic distilleries and world-renowned brands. Meet the masters who are guardians of generations of know-how on the world’s only malt whisky trail. Visit the Malt Whisky Trail website to plan your trip and find out more.
Why not visit during the famous Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, which is normally held at the start of May, and get involved in some of the unique whisky events in the festival’s packed programme. With over 700 events spread over five days, you are guaranteed to find something to enjoy.
Why not pay a visit to The Speyside Cooperage, the only working cooperage in Scotland to have a visitor centre, where you will discover the craft that goes into making the whisky casks for some of the world’s most famous brands.
Whether you’re already a whisky lover or are still to sample your first dram, you’re sure to uncover more than a few fascinating facts – as well as some delicious drams – during your trip to Moray Speyside. From small scale producers who handcraft whisky using traditional methods to some of the most famous distilleries in the world, Moray Speyside is the perfect place to learn all you need to know about the art of whisky creation. With so many distilleries packed into our incredible region the choice of which one to visit can be tough. Here are just a few that should be on every to-do list.
Day One: Keith – Dufftown – Aberlour
Situated in the historic burgh of Keith, the distillery is surrounded by beautiful gardens. Strathisla Distillery was founded by two enterprising local gentlemen in 1786 within a stone’s throw from the ruins of Milton Castle. Enjoy their master blender experience and learn all there is to know about this iconic brand.
Traveling South on the B9014 head towards the village of Dufftown where you will find the world renowned Glenfiddich Distillery. In the heart of Speyside, surrounded by forrest, the ruins of a medieval castle and a natural spring, is a landscape little changed since 1886, when Glenfiddich’s founder, William Grant, gathered his family of nine children to build the distillery with their bare hands. Around one year later, on Christmas day, 1887, the first Glenfiddich spirit trickled from the stills.
To end your first day, travel along the A95 to the Aberlour Distillery. Situated at the junction of the rivers Lour and Spey, the distillery is surrounded by glorious scenery, dominated by the rugged peaks of Ben Rinnes a short distance away. Pure spring water for making the whisky is drawn from the Lour, and the maturing spirit in the warehouse beneficially inhales the moist Speyside air.
Aberlour is an ancient place as well as a beautiful one. For more than 1,400 years there has been a community there and signs of its long heritage are all around, from the age-old oak trees above Linn Falls to the mysterious standing stones on Fairy Hill.
At the distillery, nature, tradition and local craftsmanship combine to create a great malt whisky – the spirit of Aberlour.
Overnight in Craigellachie
Day Two: Ballindalloch – Glenlivet
Start your second day by travelling south on the A95 to Ballindalloch Distillery. Nestled deep in the beautiful Spey valley, Ballindalloch Castle has been the home of the Macpherson-Grant family since 1546. Indeed, Guy Macpherson-Grant is the 23rd generation of his family to live at the Castle.
Returning the family to the distilling traditions of previous generations, Ballindalloch Distillery embraces an approach to whisky making rarely seen today.
Continue your day by visiting the wild and lonely setting of The Glenlivet Distillery, situated on the B9008, 5 miles south east of Ballindalloch. Established in 1824 by George Smith, discover the home of this world-famous Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Enjoy a guided tour of the distillery and vast bonded warehouse where the famous spirit matures to a whisky of infinite subtlety and grace, and of course sample a complimentary dram of The Glenlivet.
Overnight in Aberlour
Day Three: Aberlour – Knockando – Elgin
Head north on the A95 and visit the new Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience in the heart of The Macallan Estate and get an insight into the process, production, people and passion that make their internationally renowned single malt whisky so special.
After enjoying Moray Speyside’s newest distillery, head west on the B9102 to visit Cardhu Distillery, the only malt distillery pioneered by a woman. It is alleged that Helen Cumming distilled the first gallon of Cardhu, the only malt whisky to be pioneered by a woman. For many years Helen Cumming produced only the smallest quantity of malt whisky in Cardhu’s little still, as quality was her chief concern.
Discover the history of Cardhu on a guided tour, browse the gift shop after or relax with a dram of the famous single malt. It is produced in limited quantities by a deliberately slow distillation process and matured for 12 years in specially selected oak casks. It may take longer than many malts to reach fruition, but it is time well spent, which is shown by Cardhu’s exceptionally smooth and mellow character.
To finish your day, head back to the A95 and head north to Elgin where you will find the Glen Moray Distillery. Glen Moray Distillery nestles on the banks of the River Lossie in the city of Elgin, the capital of Speyside. Glen Moray Single Malt Whisky has been distilled here since 1897. In over a
century of distilling at Glen Moray, much has changed, however the ingredients, processes and skills of those responsible for producing Glen Moray remain constant.
At the Glen Moray distillery, you can discover the reality of malt whisky distilling. Each guide knows the process of whisky making like the back of their hand so at Glen Moray you will gain an unforgettable insight into how water and barley are transformed into ‘the water of life’.
Discover the workings of Glen Moray with a tour and a dram or relax and enjoy some homemade lunch in their coffee shop.
Overnight in Elgin
Day Four: Forres
For the final day of your trip, travel west along the A96 to Forres, home to the Benromach Distillery. At Benromach, they handcraft their whisky and make it slowly, the time-honored way. Using the finest natural ingredients their 3 distillers orchestrate every second of the distillation process; there are no short cuts to perfection. they make it this way to give their whisky that gorgeous pre-1960s Speyside character: beautifully balanced with a light touch of smoke.
Leaving Forres, travel along the A940 for six miles. There you will find the Dallas Dhu Distillery. Dallas Dhu is the last distillery to be built in the nineteenth century. Step back in time to see and hear how whisky was made in the 1900s – and then sample a dram for yourself. Picturesque Dallas Dhu originally made malt whisky for the popular Roderick Dhu blend. Visitors can wander at will through this completely preserved time capsule of the distiller’s craft. Explore this fine old Victorian distillery and then enjoy a dram in the audio-visual theatre as the story of Scotch Whisky unfolds before you.
Overnight in Forres
And these are just a few of the Malt Whisky Distilleries you can visit here in Moray Speyside.
Wherever you choose to visit, you will be sure to receive a warm welcome and a dram, Cheers!