It’s been a while since I last posted but it’s been due to my boyfriend and I traveling around Scotland. Now today’s post is to highlight what we did and how we did it. Subsequent posts to follow throughout the next few weeks will provide full details on each of our distillery visits.
We began to plan for this trip right after the 2017 new year. We knew we wanted to travel, had 13 days to do it and we wanted to go in October. Our one main goal, Islay had to be one of our stops.
Since Islay had to be one of our stops, we decided that it would be easier to fly into Glasgow, so we booked our air fare through Aer Lingus (we had a layover in Dublin) back in February after some monitoring.
Initially we thought we would book/hire a car from Glasgow and drive from there to the ferry and eventually into Islay. We soon realized that if we did this, most of our time would be spent in the car. Nothing wrong with doing that, but we wanted to save some time, so instead of driving from Glasgow to the ferry we ended up flying. This meant that we now had 1.5 days to enjoy Glasgow and our flight over to Islay would only be 35 minutes long.
If you are planning to visit Scotland for whisky, one of the important thing to do is check what distilleries are open during the time you are planning to visit, especially if you are planning to visit during the fall/winter months. Also, check if some of the distilleries you are planning to visit require booking a tour ahead of time.
In Glasgow, we stayed at an AirBnB. We thought the location was amazing and most importantly, quiet. We found that Glaswegians are some of the friendliest people in this world. Our big highlight was mainly walking around the city and eating at the Ubiquitous Chip for my birthday. The place was fantastic and knowing that it was my birthday they printed a menu specially for me wishing me happy birthday. The food and service was amazing.
From Glasgow, we flew to Islay via Loganair. If you ever do this, what you need to know is that these planes are small propeller airplane’s. You will be able to check your luggage in however, if you have a carry-on bag, it must be a small carry-on bag because the overhead space is only big enough to fit a small back pack and the space underneath your seat is equally as small. Also, you are only allowed one quarter size liquids baggy. We learned this the hard way!
Since we were planning to be in Islay for 4 days, we hired/booked a car to ensure we got a chance to visit as many distilleries as possible. In the island, we stay in an AirBnB in Bowmore right by the ocean. Our morning view was magical and our hosts, Colin and Linda couldn’t have been more amazing. If you are looking for a great place to stay, this would be one of those places.
Here are the five distilleries we visited while in the island: Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Bruichladdich, Bowmore and Lagavulin
Out of the five, the only one we didn’t get a chance to tour was Lagavulin as they don’t offer tours during this time of year. Their shop is however open to the public so you can still visit, do a tasting and purchase whisky.
I will say that having a car in the island served us well. It truly helped up explore not only the distilleries but also the island itself which is beautiful. Our regret was not having more days to ensure we covered everything.
From Islay, we flew back to Glasgow and then up to Kirkwall also via Loganair. Our purpose, visit Highland Park. We stayed at the Lynnfield Inn steps away from Highland Park. Also, they have about 400 single malts available at their bar.
If your only goal is to visit the distillery, this would be perfect place to stay at as, you can walk to the distillery from the inn and sample tons of new whisky at the Inns bar. If planning to visit Highland Park, it is important to note that you do need to have reservations for a tour as the distillery is mainly close during this time of year. This was one of the tours we had booked in advance and spoiler alert, it was one of the best.
We flew into Kirkwall a day before our Highland Park scheduled tour so we took the chance to visit the Scapa distillery the afternoon we flew in. We made it to the distillery with 3 minutes to spare before the last tour.
Our one regret about visiting Kirkwall was not hiring a car in advance. There is so much the Island has to offer and we weren’t able to see it all due to everything not being right there in Kirkwall.
From Kirkwall, we then flew to Edinburgh via Loganair. In Edinburgh, we stayed at an AirBnB. The apartment was perfectly located between Grassmarket and the Castle. Although there was no elevator to the top floor, this place was absolutely worth it as the host was amazing from the start and provided everything we needed.
While here we visited the Royal Mile and the castle (we did the castle tour), Scotch Whisky Experience tour (this is worth it mainly to see Diageo Claive Vidiz whisky collection) and we booked a coach tour. The coach tour we booked was the Outlander tour. We are huge fans of the show however we weren’t a huge fan of this tour. Yes, we got to see some cool places but not all the places we’d thought we see because according to our guide they were close for the season. If you visit and want to do a coach tour, I suggest you do the Highlands one. That one seem far better.
We spent about three days in Edinburgh and then headed back to Glasgow via train.
Let me tell you, the train from Edinburgh to Glasgow is only 45 minutes long and was only 34 pounds for a one-way ticket for both of us. Something to think about if you want to check out both cities.
Since we were flying out the next day we booked a hotel right by the airport. We were exhausted from all our travels that we stayed in and looked through our dozen and dozens of pictures.
Overall the trip was amazing, but it took a ton of research on my part. My advice to you if you want to do something similar is research and also book things ahead of time. If you want to purchase whisky, make sure you have a plan to know how to bring it back. We brought some back in our checked luggage and then we also bought some on the way out in Duty Free. Don’t be afraid to buy in duty free, they offer great options that aren’t available anywhere else.
We didn’t have any issues with the weather but if you travel in the fall expect it to be rainy and a bit chilly.
These were the highlights of our trip. Expect for me to go into details of each of the tours in subsequent posts. Drop me a note if you want more info on our trip.
Note: The contents on my blog are solely my opinion. To me every palate is different! Although I may or may not like a product, I always recommend for people to try it and make up their own minds.