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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 Gardens 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.
On your first evening of your whisky tour, you will gather as a small group for dinner at the Scotch Whisky Experience. Here you will have the chance to view the world’s largest private whisky collection, as well as begin your personal whisky tasting journey by sampling a dram or two.
Your friendly hotel offers the warmth and serenity of a country house hotel and enjoys a secluded setting overlooking attractive private gardens on a cobbled Edwardian street. However this is no country retreat, for within a mere ten minutes’ walk you will find the West end of Princes Street, the castle and all that the capital has to offer. After a day’s sightseeing, it’s the perfect place to relax and unwind in one of the fire lit lounges, or in the privacy of your comfortable bedroom. All rooms are handsomely appointed in classic style, using rich colours and exquisitely decadent soft fabrics such as linen, silk, suede and velvet.
Your driver and guide will meet you after breakfast, then you will 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, with glorious photo opportunities. En route, you will visit and tour the picturesque Aberlour Distillery, including a tutored tasting of a selection of malts and the chance to hand fill your own personalised bottle of cask strength whisky.
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. The friendly bistro offers a daily changing menu featuring local meat and game, plus a mouthwatering 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 an evening stroll.
You will spend today exploring the heart of Scotland’s whisky country, including a fascinating tour of Balvenie. Balvenie’s malt master of 43 years, David C. Stewart, entered the Scotch whisky industry in 1962 bringing innovation to the field, trying out forward-thinking maturation techniques and producing beloved whiskies for the brand. He’s more than just a household name, though. In 2016, Stewart received the distinguished title of Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his important work in the whisky industry.
During your time this heartland of malts, where warehouse walls are covered in black lichen and the whiff of the angel’s share is never far from your nose, you will also visit the fascinating Speyside Cooperage. Here you will be able to witness the dramatic, ancient and fiery art of coopering at the only place of its kind in the UK.
During the day, we will call in at several other distilleries in the area – if you have a particular Speyside favourite that you would like to visit, please advise us at time of booking and we will do our best to incorporate it within the tour itinerary if at all possible.
Today we will journey to the west coast and the lochside town of Oban. travel through some of Scotland’s most famous and iconic scenery, alongside mysterious Loch Ness, before reaching the coast at Oban in time for an afternoon distillery tour. By now you will be well-versed in the influences that make each Scotch malt whisky unique – can you taste the difference made by the west coast sea air?
Situated a short distance outside Oban at the end of a single track road, this historic restaurant, with its adjacent modern residence, really is a tranquil and special place to contemplate the dramatic beauty of the west coast. Mouthwatering langoustines and lobster are kept fresh off the end of the pier before being served to you in 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. There is a good selection of fine malts available in the bar, too!
Enjoy another scenic journey south to Tarbert and the tiny ferry port of Kennacraig, from where you will catch the ferry to Islay, renowned for its variety of distilleries and peaty malts. A visit to Islay should be high on every whisky aficionado’s list. This corner of the Inner Hebrides is home to no fewer than nine working distilleries, producing world famous brands such as Laphroaig and Bowmore, to characterful malts such as Bruichladdich and Ardbeg and recent newcomers with fresh approaches, Kilchoman and Ardnahoe.
At the island’s main crossroad, this small, locally owned hotel provides relaxed, informal accommodation and fantastic hospitality. You will appreciate the serenity of being away from it all, the clarity of the air, and the ever changing colours of Loch Indaal interrupted only by the wildlife busy on the shore. The kitchen makes excellent use of fresh local produce to deliver imaginative and mouthwatering creations for dinner while the bar is a pleasant place to pass some time in the company of other island visitors and locals.
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! Today we will explore most of them, popping in to visit nearby Bruichladdich to see some of the oldest distillery equipment still in working use. We will challenge your tastebuds with a tour of Laphroaig – one of the world’s most distinctive peaty malts. Your driver will ensure you manage to see most of the island – including Kilchoman farm distillery – and experience the delights of its whisky. Once again, if you have particular requests for distillery visits on Islay, please let us know at time of booking.
We take the ferry crossing back to the mainland and head past Loch Lomond to Edinburgh. We will include a stop in the whisky specialist shop – Loch Fyne Whiskies – in Inveraray, perfect for some last minute purchases.
This small group tour starts in Edinburgh, before travelling on to the whisky heartlands of Speyside, Oban and Islay.
The following are guide prices, based on the itinerary described here, but as this tour is tailormade for your party an exact quotation will be presented once we have discussed the various options possible. The price will vary depending on the number in the party, the rooms and hotels chosen, the distilleries included and indeed the length of tour. It is quite possible to extend the itinerary featured here by a night or more, or indeed to run a shorter trip, which would then cover a slightly different route. The choice is yours!
Based on a party of 10, this Whisky Explorer Escorted Journey is £2475 per person in March, April, October & November, £2675 per person for tours in May, June, July & September and £2775 in August. These sample prices are based on a party of 10 on the above itinerary, based on two adults sharing a twin or double room and includes six nights bed and breakfast in carefully-selected hotels, one group dinner at the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh. It also includes five distillery tours and a visit to the Speyside Cooperage, plus the services of a driver/guide throughout, return ferry to Islay and travel from Edinburgh as described, returning to Edinburgh at the end.
Not included: lunches, evening meals, drinks, gratuities and personal expenses.
We can arrange this tour for a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 16 adults, with prices varying slightly with the group size. We will work with you to prepare the most suitable proposal for you.
This tour is for adults over 18 only.
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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.
Everything was wonderful - food, accommodation, people and lucky for us the weather. We will certainly be recommending you.Diane & Roger, Tasmania, Australia
I was very impressed with McKinlay Kidd. Your choice of hotels and distilleries to visit were first class. Thank you!Gary, Lazio, Italy
This was a wonderful week. We learned a LOT about whisky, and met interesting and fun fellow travelers - all under the wing of our fantastic guide.Holly & John-Anthony, Seattle, USA