Updated: May 24
Are you a whiskey lover? Is it Irish or Scottish for you? Single malt or a blend? Aged for 10, 12, 15 or 20 years? Yes, we’re talking about Whiskey, that magical mixture of water, barley and yeast which, when fermented and distilled, creates one of the great drinks of the world.
What makes Scottish whiskey so unique is the combination of the water that is used, coming directly off the hills lochs, wells and rivers that run close to each distillery, and the barley that is grown is the Scottish borders, which is malted to make the “mash” that is fermented and distilled to give each whiskey, and distillery, its own special, distinctive and unique taste.
You may not want to visit every distillery in Scotland whilst hiring your campervan from The Tartan Camper Company, but if whiskey is your drink of choice, you should take the opportunity to visit two or three of the very best whiskey distillers Scotland has to offer. Most have guided tours and you’ll get to sample their blends and malts.
With our modern, comfortable and fun-to-drive campervans you can stop and stay at one of the many 5-star campsites, or camper parks, close to any of the distilleries on your journey. And, for a very small fee, you can take your pet with you in our campervans and enjoy the open road together.
Strathisla Distillery – Keith, Speyside
This distillery is the oldest and continuously operated distillery in Scotland, having started distilling in 1786, and if you make the effort to visits you will also be rewarded with some of the best gardens to walk around in Scotland.
The water that Strathisla uses comes from the Fons Bullen Well, which can be seen during your visit. However, don’t get too close to it. Legend has it that wild spirits - “Kelpies”, which take the form of horses or humans, will pull people down the well to meet a watery end.
Bottlings realised by the distillery include a 10, 14, 16 and 18 year old whiskey. There is also a 12 year old whiskey in a distinctive rectangular bottle. The distillery produces over 2.4 million litres of whiskey a year, and its whiskey is also blended to produce Chivas Royal. The distillery is now part of the Pernod Richard business empire.
Glenmorangie Distillery - Tain
By the shores of the Dornoch Firth, and founded by farmers William Matheson and is wife Anne in 1843, is the Glenmorangie distillery.
It boasts of having the tallest stills in Scotland for distilling the whiskey, and these stills are claimed, to give the whiskey it produces a very light and fine taste, as only the finest vapours rise to the top of the 26 foot tall still necks. Glenmorangie's water source is the Tarlogie Springs, situated in the Tarlogie Hills above the distillery, on Morangie Farm. This give mountain fresh and peat free water.
Another of its unique attributes is that the whiskey is distilled in a varied of oak casks made from white oak gown in Glenmorangie’s
own woodland in the Ozark mountains in America.
Glenmorangie Whiskey is of a very high quality with many of its blends scoring highly in international rankings. Over the last five years Glenmorangie has won more "Gold Best in Class" awards than any other single malt Scotch whisky from the International Wine and Spirits Competition.
You have to travel further afield to visit Laphoraig as it’s based on the island of Islay. However, the island is beautifully remote and taking your camper van on the ferry and enjoying the island is a pleasure. The distillery was founded in 1815 by the Johnston brothers who farmed locally. In 1836 Donald bought out his brother from the business for the then princely sum of £300. Alexander took this money and went to Australia.
Laphoraig whiskey is promoted as having “the most richly flavoured of all Scottish whiskies” because of the local peat flavoured water, and the use of hand-cut peat from the island, to “malt” at least 10% of the barley used in the process.
This is said to give the whiskey its distinctive peaty and smoky flavours.
In 2004 Laphoraig started distilling in smaller casks than normal, this exposed the whiskey to 30% greater contact area in the barrel, which added more depth to the whiskey “creating a soft and velvety edge” to the drink.
Laphoraig also has the distinction of being the only whiskey to carry a Royal Warrant, granted, by the then Prince of Wales, in 1994.
There are over 140 malt and grain distilleries in Scotland, many give guided tours around their premises and allow you to sample their whisky. A list can be found at the scotch-whiskey.org.uk website. It’s a great day out whilst you are touring around Scotland, and our three choices give a brief insight into this distinct feature of Scotland heritage and life.