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

Edinburgh & Speyside Whisky Guided Rail Tour

Get up close to the storied landscape, local producers and ancient skills that make whisky the potent spiritual embodiment of Scotland.

This new five-day small group guided tour by rail and mini-coach provides a delicious taste of Scotland’s whisky-making heartland, taking you way beyond the obvious. Flanked by the Cairngorms National Park, Speyside’s distinctive slice of Highland splendour is home to over half the nation’s producers of a spirit whose ancient Gaelic name – uisge beatha – means ‘water of life’. Your tour starts in Scotland’s glorious capital city, Edinburgh. You will also stop over in Inverness and explore the Moray Coast, including renowned spiritual centre Findhorn and atmospheric Portsoy, a harbour town as famous for jewellery as fishing! Accommodation throughout is hand-picked and sumptuous.

With a maximum of 15 passengers per group, you can be sure of highly personal service from your knowledgeable, local tour leader on a McKinlay Kidd small group rail tour. Early booking is strongly advised as places are strictly limited.

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Day one – meet and greet in Edinburgh

Make your own way to Scotland’s gorgeous capital, perhaps opting for an early arrival to explore the evocative ambience of a streetscape where ‘New Town’ means 17th century! Just let us know and we can help with arrangements. Join your fellow travellers this evening for introductions followed by a welcome Whisky Dinner hosted by your knowledgeable tour leader.

Your accommodation in Edinburgh

Tucked away in a chic, leafy West End corner, this elegant hotel is fashioned from three Georgian houses. Decor reflects that historic pedigree with classic fabrics, wood panelling and glittering chandeliers. Supremely comfortable beds make sleep a treat, preparing you for your journey to the Highlands.

Day two – by train to the Highlands

After an early breakfast, the train whisks you from the centre of Edinburgh to the heart of the Cairngorms National Park at Aviemore, passing secluded lochs, ancient forests and famous mountains. From here, travel on by road through the National Park via the oldest stone bridge in the Highlands before lunch in the village that hosts the World Porridge Making Championship, where international competitors vie annually for the prized Golden Spurtle!

Some folk liven their porridge with a dash of whisky, and your afternoon is livened with your trip’s first distillery visit – the 19th century Tomatin. Noted for mellow fruitfulness derived from gentle ageing in sherry casks, the brand is a recent winner of Icons Of Whisky Distiller of the Year. After a tasting tour, you’ll head for an overnight stay in the ‘Highland Capital’ Inverness – with a stop en route at prehistoric cairns or the poignant battlefield at Culloden.

Your accommodation in Inverness

Your accommodation sits overlooking the River Ness, with many of the designer-decorated apartments boasting river view balconies. The plentiful dining options of the Highland Capital are within a short stroll.

Day three – whisky and wonderful wandering

Today you’ll enjoy a road tour combining two reborn Scottish whisky producers – Benromach and Glenglassaugh – with two of the area’s loveliest spots in Findhorn and the harbour town of Portsoy.

Both Benromach and Glenglassaugh celebrate renewal as 19th century distilleries brought back to life after long closure. The first is now a family-run success whose fine medium-bodied dram comes with a classic Speyside whisper of peaty smoke, while Glenglassaugh (pronounced Glen-gla-ssoch) complements peerless location by a wild wave-swept beach on Sandend Bay with a diverse range of whiskies and special drams which you will have the chance to taste.

The village of Findhorn is home to a world-renowned spiritual community, and you’ll experience this soulful place with a lunchtime walk on the shore of Findhorn Bay. Later, pottering the winding 16th century hill streets of Portsoy on the Moray Firth will provide a bracing contrast of  fishing town ambience. Here too, look out for jewellery fashioned from local green serpentine dubbed ‘Portsoy marble’ – so coveted, it also adorns Louis XIV’s glittering Palace of Versailles.

Your accommodation in Aberdeenshire

Set in 240 acres of mature woodland and peaceful rolling parkland, this historic country house oozes grand baronial style with an artful assemblage of fine antiques, objets d’art and ancestral portraits within 13th century walls. Sophisticated dining options and a well-stocked snug whisky bar will ensure sociable evenings.

Day four – whisky galore!

Today, you’ll top yesterday’s double serving of distilleries with a chance to see three contrasting Speyside producers. Aberlour is perhaps the best known, set by the pure-flowing Lour Burn in the lee of rugged Ben Rinnes in a building fashioned by Scotland’s foremost 19th century distillery designer, Charles Doig of Elgin. And the whisky? Think cinnamon, nutmeg, chocolate, butter and dried fruit in fluid harmony.

Nestled in a picturesque valley since 1826, GlenDronach is among Scotland’s oldest distilleries. It also brings a flavour of Spain to the Highlands courtesy not just of lip-smacking sherry-casked whiskies but also a Spanish lady ghost who reputedly arrived in one of the sherry casks!

Topping the history stakes, though, is Strathisla, where you will make a photo stop. Founded in 1786, this is the oldest continuously operating distillery in Scotland. Today, the whisky crafted beneath its classic pagoda kiln chimneys is at the heart of the world-renowned Chivas Regal blends.

Casks play a key role in whisky’s spectrum of flavours and aromas, which makes the eye-opening Speyside Cooperage a perfect coffee stop. Its towering pyramid of old bourbon barrels and sherry butts make a grand picture, along with a chance to find out the craft and graft in making a whisky cask. Be sure to ask about the all-important charring of the wood.

On the way back to your hotel, you’ll drive through Dufftown – the village which, with six distilleries, claims the title ‘Whisky Capital of the World’!

Day five – A final toast then homeward bound

Today is the final day of your trip – but there’s still time for one last stand-out distillery!

Established in 1797, Glen Garioch takes its name from a ravishing location traditionally hailed the finest barley growing area in Scotland. Its small batch whiskies are renowned for superb ageing which develops exotic fruit notes. The area is also noted for striking tartans, including a new 21st century design – christened Old Meldrum – partly inspired by the distillery’s burnished metal stills.

From Scotland’s whisky capital, you’ll transfer to its handsome ‘Oil Capital’, Aberdeen – aka the Granite City. After a final lunch – and perhaps a valedictory dram – board your train for a two-and-a-bit hour journey south back to Edinburgh with plenty of final sights to enjoy.

While crossing the Forth Rail Bridge is a famous highlight approaching Edinburgh, perhaps an even more splendid watery traverse is crossing the Tay estuary into Dundee station, right by the V&A’s breath-taking new waterside Scottish outpost – a startling architectural vision whose Japanese designer Kengo Kuma took inspiration from jagged East Coast sea cliffs.

Other memorable stations on your coast-hugging journey include the little harbour town of Stonehaven, the medieval coastal resort of Montrose and the 12th century Abbey town of Arbroath. Plenty to toast!


Your small group guided tour ends in Edinburgh in late afternoon – do not hesitate to let us know if we can assist with any further arrangements.


The tour starts with a night in Edinburgh, followed by a night in Inverness and two nights in Aberdeenshire, on the doorstep of Speyside. It finishes with train travel back to Edinburgh.


The price includes:

  • Four nights in hand-picked four-star-standard accommodation.
  • Welcome whisky dinner in Edinburgh. Breakfast every day. Lunch on day two and farewell lunch on day four.
  • Rail travel from Edinburgh to Aviemore on the Highland Mainline and from Aberdeen back to Edinburgh.
  • Tour/ transfer from Aviemore to Inverness including Tomatin Distillery tour and tasting.
  • Full day tour of Moray Coast including tour and tasting at Benromach Distillery and Glenglassaugh Distillery.
  • Full day tour of Speyside including tour and tasting at Glendronach Distillery and Aberlour Distillery plus a visit to the Speyside Cooperage.
  • Tour and Tasting at Glen Garioch Distillery en route to Aberdeen.
  • The services of McKinlay Kidd’s tour leader, accompanying the group and providing expert guiding and assistance throughout.
  • Transfers as described.

From time to time we may need to make minor changes to the itinerary, such as the specific distilleries visited, but will always replace with alternatives of equivalent or higher standard.

Not included:

  • Meals other than those described above
  • Drinks
  • Gratuities and tips

All accommodation is carefully-selected and researched by us, predominantly featuring small, family-owned hotels – contact us for more detailed information. We will do our best to accommodate room preferences subject to availability at individual properties.

This tour will operate with a minimum of four and maximum of 15 passengers on each departure date.

Simply complete the form below to reserve your place(s). We will hold your place(s) for 48 hours to provide time for you to pay the deposit of 10% per person.

The McKinlay Kidd Guarantee

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.

Reserve your place(s) for Edinburgh & Speyside Whisky Guided Rail Tour

Departure Dates & Current Availability
Departure DateStarts FromNights£ per person (2 sharing)£ per person (single)
Monday 23 Sep 2019Edinburgh4£ 1375£ 1695

To reserve your place(s) on this tour, please call us or complete the form below, making sure to select your departure date from the dropdown menu and advise of any special requirements. We will hold your place(s) for 48 hours and contact you with details of how to confirm your booking by payment of the per person deposit.

Please note: All form fields are required unless otherwise stated optional.

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