They call it ''Gods Drinking Water'' in Scotland. It is a favourite tipple across the globe, used for headaches, toothache, to help sleep and some other ver starnge and wonderful traits with a history beyond belief and this vacation is one of GVC's biggest requests. Note for all those who love a ''large dram'' you will love this amazing vacation theme, you will even have the privelige as an invited guest to dine with the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (Such an invitation is indeed a rare honour)
Speyside is home to over half of Scotland’s malt whisky distilleries – there’s no better region to visit for a whisky connoisseur. The Malt Whisky Trail is a route through the region that takes in seven working distilleries and a cooperage (where the whisky barrels are made). The trail itself is well-marked at the roadside and the distilleries can be visited in any convenient order.
However, there are many more Speyside distilleries not on the trail, and many allow visitors to tour the production areas. A great time to visit Greater Speyside is during one of the whisky festivals: Spirit of Speyside takes place in spring, and is followed later in the year by the Autumn Speyside Whisky Festival.
Scottish Whisky Trail
The Speyside Whisky Trail follows the routes of the Speyside Way, roughly following the course
Day 01, Edinburgh
Arrive Edinburgh; Transfer to your hotel is included You are free to enjoy this beautiful city on your own. (Please note, hotel check-in is generally between 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm. If you are arriving into Edinburgh early - the hotel will be happy to hold your luggage until your room is ready).
Day 02, Edinburgh - Touring Begins - Islay
You will be directed to the Edinburgh departure point for 8:15 am Leaving Edinburgh you will head west to Stirling and into the Highlands with a short stop in the marvelous holiday town of Callander (famed for Scotland's very own palm trees) where you will stop for refreshments. After traveling through the mountainous northern part of the Loch Lomond National Park you will arrive in the busy harbour town of Oban. You will have a couple of hours here with the chance to visit the Oban distillery and sample some local seafood for lunch. You will then depart Oban mid-afternoon for the journey to Kennacraig to catch the evening ferry to Islay. The sail is just over 2 hours and you should look out for wildlife such as dolphins, whales, and seabirds.On arrival on Islay it is a short drive to your hotel for three (3) night stay.
Day 03, Touring - A full day exploring Islay
A full day exploring Islay. The itinerary today is quite flexible with a mixture of beautiful scenery, white sand beaches (yes Scotland does have some), short walks and of course the famous Islay whiskies - renowned for their strong peaty flavors and nurtured by the salty sea air. In the morning you will take the short drive to the west of the island via Saligo Bay for a visit to Kilchoman Distillery (the newest and smallest on the island) with the option of a coastal walk to Machair Bay for any non-whiskey lovers (if that is at all possible). After lunch you will explore the tiny harbor village of Portnahaven (look out for the seals) before taking the back roads along the west coast with its lovely sandy bays, on the way back to your hotel. Alternatively - for those who want to visit another distillery we will be able to drop you off at Bruichladdich for a tasting and visit to the shop. You will have the chance to visit Bowmore Distillery or just relax and explore the village.
Day 04, Touring - Another day in whisky paradise!
Another day in whisky paradise! Today you will explore the southern side of the island, home to the smokiest and peatiest of all whiskies - Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg. You will visit Ardbeg for a tour, tasting and lunch. The restaurant here is a beautiful place to relax and enjoy local produce as well as some unique whiskey. You then follow that up with a visit to Laphroaig or a visit to the ruins of Kildalton Church with its famous 8th Century Celtic Cross. Alternatively we may stop in Bridgend where you could visit the community craft producers at Islay House Square or take a walk through the woods along the nearby River Sorn.
Day 05, Touring - Edinburgh
This morning you take the ferry back to the mainland then travel up the coast to Oban – a busy harbor town and the main ferry port for the islands. Here we will drop off anyone who is continuing on the Mull, Iona and Isle of Skye extension. Those remaining will have some free time to explore the town, have a late lunch or even pop into Oban Distillery before departing for the return trip to Edinburgh. Return time approx. 8:00 pm. Make your way independently to your pre-booked Edinburgh hotel. Overnight in Ediburgh.
Day 06, Free day in Edinburgh
Today is a free day to explore beautiful Edinburgh, the historic capital of Scotland. There are so many options available here! Consider taking Rabbies 2-hour city tour to aquaint yourself with the city. No visit to Edinburgh would be complete without a visit to her medieval castle - sitting on a volcanic plug rising high above the majestic Princes Street Gardens. Or to the hustle and bustle of the city’s New Town, and the main thoroughfare awash with designer shops. Lunch is booked for you today at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, a private members club of whisky enthusiasts from all over the world. A 2 course lunch will be served in the excellent restaurant, followed by a tasting of 2 special cask whiskies in the members rooms. Overnight again in Edinburgh.
Day 07, Speyside Whisky Experience begins!
Make your way to the departure point for a 9:00 am departure (note, you should arrive 15 minutes prior to departure). Your 3-day Speyside Whisky adventure, starting with the journey north into the Highlands. The first stop will be the historic village of Dunkeld for a short walk through the forest to some atmospheric waterfalls. After lunch in Pitlochry you will make your first distillery visit at Dalwhinnie – the highest distillery in the country and the closest to the source of the River Spey. From here you follow the river north through the Cairngorm National Park to the small town of Grantown on Spey – your base for the next two nights.
Day 08, Touring
A whole day exploring Scotland’s most famous whisky region. After a scenic drive towards the coast your first stop of the day will be at the family owned Benromach Distillery for a personalised tour. From here it is a short distance to Elgin – home to Gordon and MacPhail – one of the world’s leading specialist whisky bottlers and suppliers. Their shop has one of the widest selection of malts you will find anywhere. After lunch in Elgin you will travel back up the Spey valley to Aberlour for a visit to the distillery there and time permitting, make a stop at the Speyside Cooperage, in nearby Craigellachie. From here we head back to Grantown on Spey.
Day 09, Touring - Edinburgh
Today takes you through the beautiful Cairngorm Mountains on route back to Edinburgh. In the morning you will explore Glenlivet – not just a distillery but also a beautiful glen with great walks and wonderful wildlife. Later you will pass by the famous Balmoral Castle and stop in the village of Braemar in the heart of the National Park. From here the route south passes over Scotland’s highest mountain pass then through Perthshire before arriving back in Edinburgh. Arrive back in Edinburgh approximately 6:30 pm, where you will make your own way back to your pre-booked hotel.
Day 10, Edinburgh - Home
After a good hearty full scottish breakfast you can make your way back to the airport or a;lternatively choose another GVC vacation as an addo