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AITO Tour Operator of The Year 2016 - Gold AwardThe Telegraph Travel Awards Winner 2017

The Whisky Trail

The ultimate Scotch whisky holiday visiting all of Scotland's main whisky areas.

Not just a whisky-themed self-drive tour, designed to cover five of the main whisky areas (Lowland, Speyside, Skye, Campbeltown and Islay), but also a chance to explore and experience some of the many contrasts of Scotland. For added convenience, taxi tours are included in Speyside and on Islay, ensuring you can enjoy a dram or two at your leisure.

At A Glance

Best Time To Go

Feb - Nov

Why not...

book dinner at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Edinburgh?

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Office Hours (UK time) Mon-Fri: 9.00-18.30
Sat: 9.30-16.30

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Day One – Edinburgh

Your holiday starts in Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital and one of Europe’s top city holiday destinations. Visitors from all over the world are drawn here by the wealth of historic sites, galleries, museums, shops, restaurants and bars, not to mention the spectacular sight of Princes Street and the castle rock. Yet it’s still perfectly possible to avoid the crowds and find quiet cobbled streets, peaceful cafes and, above all, to simply soak up the ambience of this most scenic of cities. With our local knowledge we are ideally placed to give you plenty of suggestions, including the more unusual, off-the-beaten-track hidden gems that only a local would know.

Your Hotel

On a classic Victorian Edinburgh terrace just a few minutes’ walk from the West End of Princes Street, you’ll find this elegant four-star hotel formed from two grandly appointed houses. Newly refurbished rooms present a cosy and comfortable haven away from the bustle, while the stylish bar is the ideal spot in which to enjoy coffee or a dram while you plan your day or reflect on your evening out.

The in-house restaurant serves a tempting menu of classics utilising the very best local and seasonal produce, and you might enjoy a light lunch in the grand lobby area, while admiring the view from its vast bay windows.

Time today to visit the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre – with the ticket included in your holiday. We can also arrange for dinner at the unique Scotch Malt Whisky Society, where you can sample their wonderful range of unique single cask bottlings.

Day Two – Speyside

Next you head north over the spectacular Forth Road Bridge, through Perthshire and across the Highlands to Speyside, famous for its whisky, castles, rivers and glens. This memorable drive incorporates many potential stopping off points, including the Dalwhinnie distillery.

Your Hotel

Your elegant Georgian hotel is the perfect place to unwind in traditional highland surroundings, offering a warm welcome and a touch of style in the centre of an attractive Speyside village. Close to several distilleries on the famous Whisky Trail, it offers a fine selection of single malts which you can sample as you relax in front of the sitting room’s crackling log fire, perhaps with a good book. The friendly bistro offers a daily changing menu featuring local meat and game, plus a mouth-watering variety of seafood. The chef combines these and other fine local ingredients with fresh herbs and fruit from the hotel’s delightful walled garden, which you are welcome to explore on your evening stroll as you plan the following day’s activities.

What to see and do

Conveniently located at the heart of Speyside’s Malt Whisky Trail, your hotel lies within a couple of miles of the excellent Cardhu and Macallan distilleries. Glenfiddich, Strathisla and Aberlour are also within easy striking distance, as is the fascinating Speyside Cooperage – worthy of a day trip in itself. We can recommend and plan your own itinerary and make any bookings for your tours- just let us know your preferences. If required we can also arrange for taxi hire to ensure you can fully enjoy the delights of the whisky!

Aside from these attractions there is no shortage of other options in the area – with excellent salmon fishing on the Spey, walking on the Speyside Way, 15 nearby golf courses and numerous places of historic interest, from Pluscarden Abbey to romantic Cawdor Castle. Venture slightly further afield and you will discover the attractions of Inverness, capital of the Highlands, the mysteries of Loch Ness with its fascinating visitor centre or the pretty fishing villages and long sandy beaches of the beautiful Moray Coast.

Day Four – Skye

Now to the Isle of Skye, with your route taking you past famous landmarks such as Loch Ness and Eilean Donan castle, before crossing the Skye Bridge to reach your next base in the south of the island.

Your Hotel

Sheltered by a gently curving bay, your charming whitewashed hotel sits right on the seashore, enjoying expansive views over the Sound of Sleat to the wilderness of Knoydart. This, the most southerly part of Skye, is an area of great natural beauty, often referred to as the “Garden of Skye” thanks to its abundant bird life and profusion of wild flowers. This is a Gaelic-speaking community and the bar is a convivial meeting place for the locals, who mix happily with hotel guests, often to the accompaniment of traditional music and Gaelic song in front of the roaring log fire. Twelve bedrooms (six in the Garden House) are decorated with pretty cotton and linen chintzes and there are four new suites in the recently restored stables, each enjoying superb views across the water to the lighthouse of Isle Ornsay. Candlelit meals in the wood-panelled dining room reflect the estate’s culinary riches, with wonderful shellfish and game featuring prominently on the menu. Langoustines are landed at the old stone pier, and oysters come from the hotel’s own oyster beds.

What to see and do

On the little harbour right beside the hotel is the headquarters of “The Gaelic Whiskies”, where you can sample an excellent range of connoisseur brands before browsing in the nearby craft shop. Your holiday includes a tour of the famous Talisker distillery, beautifully situated in a remote location on the west coast. Away from the whisky, don’t miss the enchanting walk to the Point of Sleat, from where you can gaze across to the small isles of Rum and Eigg and dream of future visits! On the way down to the Point of Sleat, it’s worth stopping off at the Clan Donald Centre at Armadale Castle, with its fine arboretum and lovely garden.

Day Six -Oban

Return to the mainland via the ferry from nearby Mallaig. Your route south will take you through more stunning Highlands scenery, including the beaches of Arisaig and Glenfinnan, before turning south and stopping overnight on the coast south of Fort William.

Your Hotel

Originally the home of Loch Linnhe’s Pier Master, this historic restaurant, with its adjacent modern residence, really is a special place to contemplate the dramatic beauty of the west coast. The views are stunning and the once prolific steam traffic has given way to the blissful sound of silence. Mouth-watering langoustines and lobster are kept fresh off the end of the pier, before being served to you by candlelight in the cosy conviviality of one of Argyll’s finest restaurants. As you contemplate the sunset over the distant Morvern hills, you may be lucky enough to glimpse otters and seals.

Day Seven – Campbeltown

After a morning visit to the Oban distillery, enjoy another scenic drive south to Tarbert and on to Kintyre, with your destination the town which was, around a hundred years’ ago, Scotland whisky capital – Campbeltown. Once the home to 30 working distilleries, just 3 remain – Springbank, Glen Gyle and Glen Scotia. Mind you these are excellent, independent operations and Springbank is a personal favourite.  Your tour will either be this afternoon or tomorrow morning.

Your Hotel

You will stay in a recently fully refurbished historic hotel, within walking distance of the distillery, in a prominent position close to the harbourfront.

Day Eight – Islay

After a morning to explore the beautiful and often overlooked Kintyre peninsula – perhaps visiting the world-famous Mull of Kintyre itself, your next destination is the tiny ferry port of Kennacraig, from where you will catch the late afternoon ferry to Islay, renowned for its distilleries.

Your Hotel

Your hotel is a tastefully restored Victorian building by the seashore in Port Charlotte – an attractive conservation village, built of whitewashed stone around 1830, on the west shore of Loch Indaal. The key feature of this hotel is its large comfortable conservatory, opening out into a garden which in turn leads down to a sandy beach. The residents’ lounge and public bar feature open fires where guests can unwind with convivial company. Most bedrooms enjoy lovely sea views and all are furnished with antiques. A special feature is the use of oriental rugs on wooden floors. The central theme of the restaurant is local produce, freshly prepared to order and served in elegant surroundings. The dinner menu is a la carte and changes regularly – you can expect beef and lamb from local farms to feature, or game from the nearby island estates. Also frequently on the menu are scallops, lobsters and prawns, fresh from the Islay fishing fleet. The public bar serves bar meals and has, of course, some of the finest malt whiskies in the world for you to sample.

The Island

Once the ancestral seat of the Lords of the Isles, Islay is a fertile island of low heather-clad hills, attractive beaches, numerous historical sites and more whisky distilleries than any other Scottish island! The Bruichladdich distillery is particularly worthwhile visiting as it features an excellent visitor’s centre where you can take a tour round the workings and sample the malts. Ardbeg and Laphroaig also offer fascinating insights into the traditional methods of whisky production.

Islay is also a haven for hill-walkers and bird-watchers – it is home to the huge Loch Gruinart bird sanctuary and its vast numbers of migrating geese. In the island capital, Bowmore, you can visit the unusual Round Church (no corners for the devil to hide in!) or if history is your thing, the Museum of Island Life in Port Charlotte is well worth a visit, as are the ruins of Finlaggan Castle, home of the Macdonald chiefs, and Kildalton Chapel with its early Christian cross.

Day Ten

Cross back to the mainland and retrace your steps past Loch Lomond to Glasgow. You might like to stop at the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar en route to enjoy their excellent selection of seafood, and a stop in the whisky specialist shop – Loch Fyne Whiskies – in Inveraray is a definite recommendation for some last minute purchases.


Map The Scotch Whisky Trail

From Edinburgh to the Mull of Kintyre, via Speyside, Skye, Oban and Islay, covering most the main whisky areas of the country.


£1425 per person for February & November, £1540 per person for April & October, £1615 per person for May to September.

Prices are based on two people sharing a room for nine nights on a bed & breakfast basis. This includes our services to plan and book visits and tours of distilleries of your choice along the route. Tours of the the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre in Edinburgh, one distillery in Speyside, Talisker on Skye, Springbank in Campbeltown and one distillery of your choice on Islay are included. Others can be arranged at a small additional cost. The holiday includes return ferry travel for a car and two adult passengers from Skye and to/from Islay, as well as taxi transfers in Speyside and on Islay.

Some upgraded rooms may be available at featured hotels.

Before your departure, you will receive personalised holiday information including full directions, recommended routes, and suggestions on places to visit depending on your interests and our local knowledge to help you get the most from your holiday.

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All our holiday prices include a service charge of £9 per person per night towards the costs we incur in researching, planning and designing your holiday.

We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value. All we ask is that you write to us within 7 days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.

Check availability for The Whisky Trail

This holiday is available from late February until early November.

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