This package consists of two separate tours with 2 nights accommodation in Edinburgh in between. You will be able to enjoy the individual styles and stories of the different driver/guides as well as a different group of travelling companions on each part of your trip. The time in Edinburgh is unescorted.
On this tour we have pre-booked a number of rooms in the beautiful Bowmore Distillery Cottages for the first 3 nights. These are self-catering cottages in the grounds of the distillery itself and offer a unique accommodation experience. The cottages have between 3 and 6 bedrooms and these are all en-suite but are NOT serviced during your stay. The kitchen and lounge facilities are shared and self-service continental breakfast ingredients will be provided. Please note that due to the shared nature of the accommodation, individual bedrooms do not have their own lockable doors. Occasionally when these rooms are full we will use nearby B&Bs.
The accommodation in Edinburgh for nights 4 and 5 will be in 3* Motel One or a similar city centre hotel. (Breakfast included)
The accommodation in Grantown on Spey for nights 6 and 7 will be in the 3* Garth Hotel or similar. (Breakfast included)
Day 1 Leaving Edinburgh at 08.30 you will head west through Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, along Loch Lomond then west through the mountains to the beautiful little village of Inveraray on the banks of Loch Fyne. Here you can perhaps sample some of the local seafood for lunch or just explore the historic town itself. After lunch you will then travel through Argyll and into the ancient Kingdom of Dalriada. There are more than 350 prehistoric monuments within a six-mile radius of the village of Kilmartin. You will stop here to see the mysterious stone circles and standing stones and visit the community museum. From here it is a short drive to Kennacraig where you catch the early 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 Bowmore for your 3-night stay.
Day 2 A full day exploring Islay. The itinerary today is quite flexible with a mixture of beautiful scenery, white sand beaches, short walks and of course the famous Islay whiskies - renowned for their strong peaty flavours 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-whisky lovers. After lunch you will explore the tiny harbour village of Portnahaven (look out for seals) before taking the back roads along the west coast with its lovely sandy bays, on the way back to Bowmore. You will have the chance to visit Bowmore distillery or just relax and explore the village.
Day 3 Another day in paradise! Today you will explore the southern side of the island, home to the smokiest and peatiest of all whiskies – Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg. We 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 whisky. We follow this up with a visit to Laphroaig and if time allows a short stop for a tasting at Lagavulin. It should also be possible to 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 4 This morning you take the ferry back to the mainland then travel up the coast to Oban – a busy harbour 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. The others 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 Glasgow and Edinburgh. Return time approx. 20.00 and overnight in Edinburgh. Clients will have to make their own way to the hotel.
Day 5 Is a free day to explore Edinburgh, the historic capital of Scotland. There are so many options available here - why not take a local open top city bus tour to familiarise yourself with the 'old' and 'new' towns of the city. No visit to Edinburgh would be complete without a visit to her medieval castle. Sitting on a volcanic plug there is no other city in Europe to offer a setting quite as unique as that of the castle rising high above the majestic Princes Street gardens, to the hustle and bustle of the city’s first new town, and the main thoroughfare awash with designer shops.
Lunch is booked for you 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, following by a tasting of 2 special cask whiskies in the members rooms.
Overnight again in Edinburgh.
Day 6 This morning make your way back to the departure point at 09.00 for the next leg of your tour - a three-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 – you base for the next two nights.
Day 7 A whole day exploring Scotland’s most famous whisky region. After a scenic drive toward 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. From here you will travel back up the Spey to Craigellachie for a visit to the Speyside Cooperage where you will see another aspect of the whisky making process. After lunch here or in nearby Aberlour you will visit Cardhu Distillery. Cardhu is the most important whisky in Johnnie Walker Black Label. From here is back to Grantown on Spey.
Day 8 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 the Perthshire before arriving back in Edinburgh around 18.30.
Please note – itinerary and distillery visits are subject to variation throughout the season and may not be the same described above, however there will always be a minimum of 8 distillery visits during the holiday.
Rabbie's Café, 6 Waterloo Place, EH1 3EG. Click here to see map.
Transportation by top of the range Mercedes minicoach for a more personal experience with a maximum of 16 passengers on tour.
We believe a small group tour with a maximum of 16 passengers really does make a big difference to your trip. It allows us to give you a more personal service and remain the only 5 Star operator to offer this personal guarantee. Touring with a maximum of 16 passengers you get more for your money, more personal attention, more time with the locals, more time off the bus, more time on the back-roads and just more of an authentic, friendly experience. The smaller groups allow you to meet people from all over the world and make friends for life.
Air Conditioning as standard.
Accommodation and breakfast as specified above.
Services of a professional Rabbie's driver/guide.
All ferry and bridge crossings.
Lunch and tasting at Scotch Malt Whisky Society.
Other lunches, dinners and refreshments
Students, Seniors over 60. We do not carry children under 18 years on this whisky tour.
Because we believe in time off the bus and give you opportunities to take nature walks we recommend you bring suitable clothing and footwear for your tour. Scotland can be a wet place!! If you have mobility problems or special requirements please let us know when booking.
Photography Credits: VisitScotland, Clydecoast (Grantown on Spey).