The Best Excuse For a Road Trip: Scotland's Top Whisky Distilleries

The only trip you ever need to take

Travel Expert


A visit to the United Kingdom is wonderful for myriad reasons, from the breathtaking views of untouched bluffs and rolling green hills. But, let’s be real, there’s also whisky. So much whisky.

Pack some Tylenol, sunglasses and Pedialyte for this trip, because here are the best distilleries in Scotland.  


This might be the most well known distillery on the list, and for good reason: it’s got a bit of a head start. Glenlivet was making whisky even before it became an official business back in 1824.

When it was founded, bootleggers and underground whisky producers plagued Scotland. There were hundreds of illegal stills in the very glen where the famed distillery resides today.

Aside from the great joy of drinking its popular whisky at the source, the company offers walking tours of some of those (now unoperational) stills.

Barrel after barrel after barrel of Glenlivet. Is this Heaven? — Photo courtesy of Mark Rowland


Fans of Parks and Recreation are likely extremely familiar with Lagavulin, thanks to Ron Swanson’s visit to the distillery (the only trip he ever needed to take). Well, it’s worth one for you too.

Located on the isle of Islay and in (legal) production since 1816, it overlooks the quiet Lagavulin Bay.

The view alone is worth a trip, but learning from Ian MacArthur exactly why its best whisky sits in barrels for 16 years transforms it into a must.

Ron Swanson would be jealous. — Photo courtesy of Paul Joseph


The last of the Big Three - at least in terms of American popularity - Macallan offers some of the best tours in Scotland.

For starters, each hour and 45 minute tour is limited to only 10 visitors and takes you through the entire distilling and maturation process in precise detail.

After learning everything, from how the still works to why the cask quality is so important, you get to experience a nosing and, yes, a tasting of four of Macallan’s finest whiskies.

Bottoms up. — Photo courtesy of Javier Lastras


No list that includes Lagavulin would be complete without also mentioning Laphroaig, its elder by one year. The two, both stationed on the Isle of Islay, have been rivals since time immemorial.

Laphroaig recently stepped its game up by offering virtual tours for those who want to enjoy a dram at their computer.

For exhaustive researchers, we recommend visiting both Lagavulin and Laphroaig to properly compare. (Word is Prince Charles has a few times - and he’s a fan of the 15-year-old Laphroaig.)

The waiting is the hardest part. — Photo courtesy of Jack Shainsky


For both a taste of award-winning single malt Scotch and a severe view of Black Cuillin - the main ridge of the Cuillin mountains, shiny black from the igneous rock comprising it - a visit to Talisker is in order.

The tours of the distillery can last up to two hours, so expect to learn about the process (some of these whiskies sit for 34 years) and the location (such as how the salty air affects the distilling process).

Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, whales and eagles in and over Loch Harport. 

A drink with a view. — Photo courtesy of Steve Cadman


Perched up in the Cairngorm National Park in the Scottish Highlands, this distillery’s claim to fame is its height. But that’s not all that sets Dalwhinnie apart.

The tour itself is unique and might be one of the country’s best. Every visit concludes with two wondrous things: handmade chocolate and 15-year-old single malt Scotch whisky.

And Dalwhinnie’s not territorial. You can even partake in a tasting of several whiskies from across Scotland, all of which the distillery pairs with chocolate. 

 Don't get dizzy. — Photo courtesy of Lucien Manshanden


Established in 182, this Perthshire distillery is the smallest in all of Scotland. The farm distillery only makes twelve casks each week. Each visit takes advantage of that intimacy.

Upon arrival, you’ll enjoy two drams of Edradour in the malt barn before being taken on a one-hour tour of the distillery.

Be forewarned, though, tours are only offered from mid-April to mid-October, but each one is a personalized experience that you won’t find anywhere else in the country. 

An intimate experience. — Photo courtesy of casanova14

About Travis Andrews

Travis M. Andrews is sleeping off this research. Follow him on Twitter @travismandrews. 

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