A distillery visit can be almost spiritual for the true Whisky drinker. Getting to see behind the scenes where all the magic happens can bring tears to a person’s eyes.
Most distilleries now offer a lot more than just the standard distillery visit / tour and give you the opportunity to learn from hands on experiences.
We explore 10 things that you can do on a different distillery visit and the experiences you can have while learning about the water of life.
- Make Cocktails
Jameson in Ireland offer you the chance to mix Whisky cocktails at their Bow Street site in Dublin. This is the perfect opportunity to learn how to make some of your favourite drinks, and allows you to learn skills that you can take home. While it’s all well and good being able to watch the distillation process, you can’t exactly take their methods home. This is a great way to continue the Whisky experience after you’ve left the distillery and the perfect way to get to know a Whisky better.
You can probably guess where this experience takes place! Laphroaig on the isle of Islay gives you the chance to get down and dirty and actually take some peat out of the ground. Again, this is a fantastic way to bring the distillery process to life, more so than just watching someone else do it. The experience only costs £15 and is perfect for fans of peated malted who want to know a bit more about where the peat comes from. This is definitely the pinnacle of interactive tours.
- Drink from the cask
This is available at several different distilleries and allows you to taste Whisky straight from the cask. This is an opportunity not to be missed. Not only is it cask strength but it is direct from the source of flavour and taste, allowing you a purely unadulterated experience at tasting. It is worth checking if this is available at your favourite distillery as it really is an experience to take advantage of.
- Blend your own
Many distilleries will also now allow you to blend your own and take it home. You can learn more about blended Whisky is crafted and about how to taste Whisky. Crafting your own is the ultimate for most Whisky fans and is a great learning experience as well. Like with the cask tasting, this is an experience that can be done at many different distilleries, so it is worth checking if you can do it at your favourite. The experience is usually lead by an expert, so you know you won’t go too far wrong. Glengoyne has so far been my favourite of these experiences.
- Laphroaig Water to Whisky
Laphroaigreally go all out with their water to Whisky tour. This tour takes you all over the distillery as well as straight to their water source and the bogs, where you will cut peat and see how Laphroaig craft such a marvellous taste out of it. The price tag on this tour is £100, but for all that you get, plus the amazing experience that it provides, it is well worth it. This is a definite for all hardcoreLaphroaig fans.
Strathearn Distillery are not happy for their visitors to merely come and spend a day learning about Whisky. They would rather you spent days at a time learning everything there is to know about the stuff and that is exactly what they offer with their Whisky School. This is the ultimate in hands on experiences. Choose from one, three or five days, and you will be given the opportunity to actually operate the machinery that make Whisky, and at the end of it you leave with something of what you’ve made. This is a rare experience, and it has a price tag to match, but if you can afford it then it is a must.
- Food Pairings
This is one of my personal favourite Whisky experiences and like with a few experiences on this list, it is done at several distilleries. As well as learning to taste Whisky, with food pairing experiences you get the chance to taste Whisky with something else. Options range from chocolate, cheese and meats. This is a great way to learn more about the Whisky you love and to gain new tasting skills that you can bring home and introduce to friends.
- Take a master class
Again, lots of different distilleries will offer this and it is a great way to learn from those who know Whisky the best. Usually a master class with include several tastings and will teach you how to taste at home. These are skills that can make any Whisky drinking experience a great one and the knowledge you learn at a master class will come in handy when you’re trying to impress your mates down the pub!
Available at most distilleries
This is an exciting experience, especially for Aberlour fans, and gives you the chance to taste expressions that are no longer available on any commercial market. There is a fully taught tasting session as well, so you can really get into every dram. Even if you’re not a fan of Aberlour, this is perfect for learning about some rare and exclusive drams and gives you the chance to learn more about them from people who know them best.
This is a 3 hour long tour of Ardbeg and the surrounding hills. It is a bit of a hike but it is worth every minute. You’ll be guided by a storyteller who knows everything about the land and Ardbeg, and only wants to share his anecdotes with you. Seeing the surroundings of the distillery will bring it to life and give you the perfect back drop to enjoy some fine Whisky. At only £50 this is a tour that offers an in depth look at a legendary distillery, as well as the chance to really get to know the astounding Scottish countryside.
What are your favourite things to do on a distillery visit?