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By Glenn Buercklin


There are a lot of ways to get familiar with Scotch whisky. But having a firsthand tasting at one of Scotland’s distilleries is a singular experience to be savored. Fortunately, the country is brimming with distilleries and getting to them is very easy—once you’re in Scotland.

A recent sojourn to the UK included three Scotch whisky tastings. The first, Edinburgh based Whisky Experience, gives a brief history of Scotch whisky and outlines how this spirit is made uniquely Scotch. By the way, no self-respecting Scot would call Scotch whisky by that name, nor would they spell it with an “e”. It’s whisky, plain and simple. Each of us got a card with scratch & sniff spots to give aromatic impressions of specific whisky producing regions. Islay=smoky; Speyside=fruity, etc. The Whisky Experience is a great introduction to Scotch, complete with sampling drams from different regions in a tasting room filled with hundreds of whiskies. Pro tip: it’s next door to Edinburgh Castle, a must see attraction in the Scottish capital.

Next on the agenda was one of the Lowland distilleries: Glenkinchie. This was more of a true distillery tour, with whisky being made onsite. Lowland whisky is known for its light flavor profile, and Glenkinchie has come to be called the breakfast whisky because of its floral and mild notes. Our tour included sampling some delicious drams direct from their casks. Sadly, we weren’t allowed to take away any of that treasure. Happily, they had a gift shop exclusive bottle of Glenkinchie that was outstanding and available to purchase.

The final stop on our tasting tour was in Glasgow. Clydeside is a new distillery which began production in 2017. They’ve remodeled a century-old building that was part of the Glasgow docks on the River Clyde. The retrofit keeps the original bones of the building while updating its function to suit this modern distillery. The tour lasted about 1½ hours and concluded by sampling whiskies paired with artisan chocolates. Clydeside’s whiskies are young, but this is a distillery to keep an eye out for when they come to our shores.

Reservations are recommended for all of these tours and can easily be made online. They’ll be a high point on your Scottish visit.