The Speyside Whisky Trail incorporates 8 distilleries in the North East of Scotland. The Speyside whisky-producing region has the highest concentration of whisky distilleries in any region of Scotland. The whisky trail in Speyside comprises of some famous distilleries such as Glenfiddich, The Glenlivet, and Cardhu.
Looking at the Speyside whisky map you will see that there are around 50 whisky distilleries. Visitors travelling along the whisky trail get to experience the best single malt whiskies that Scotland has to offer. Travellers on the Malt Whisky Trail can see how coopers and bottlers work in traditional ways. You can also buy fabulous single malt whisky from the very place the whisky was produced 12, 15, or 20 ago.
In this article, you will find out about the Moray Speyside Malt Whisky Trail and what you can expect from visiting the 8 malt whisky distilleries in Speyside.
The Whisky Trail – Speyside Whisky Experience
Scotland’s Malt Whisky Trail is one of the best ways for visitors to experience everything Scotch whisky has to offer. Seeing copper stills and whisky warehouses with some of Scotland’s most beautiful landscapes in the background is breath-taking.
The History of the Malt Whisky Trail in Speyside
The history of making whisky in Speyside stretches back over 250 years. Entrepreneurs started distilling whisky in illicit stills and then smuggling the whisky out of the country to sell all over the world.
One of the reasons why Speyside became the heart of Scotch whisky production was the availability of arable land. Barley grows well in the North East of Scotland and this meant that distillers didn’t have large costs to transport the grain.
Also, the is water in abundance with the main source being the River Spey. There are also many tributaries of the river Spey which meant that is was easy to set up small distilleries.
The first whisky producer in Moray Speyside to start legally producing whisky was The Glenlivet.
Distilleries on the Speyside Whisky Trail
Let’s look at the 8 distilleries on the Malt Whisky Trail to see what you can expect from visiting each one.
Glenfiddich Speyside Whisky Distillery
Glenfiddich is the largest of the distilleries in Speyside and provides a fantastic experience for all visitors. If you can’t visit all of the distilleries on the Malt Whisky Trail, make sure and visit Glenfiddich.
The Glenfiddich Distillery is located in Dufftown, Moray and is owned by the Grant Family. The name Glenfiddich in Gaelic literally means ‘Valley of the Deer’. Glenfiddich distillery uses 32 copper pot stills which are slightly smaller than the type most distilleries use.
Many people regard Glenfiddich 12 year old as the best Speyside Scotch whisky. Glenfiddich single malt whiskies are some of the most popular whiskies in the world.
Glenlivet is a word that is synonymous with Scotch single malt whisky from Speyside. The Glenlivet’s claim to fame is that it is the oldest distillery in the world legally producing whisky. Another claim to fame that Glenlivet enjoys is that it is the most popular single malt whisky in the U.S.
Glenlivet is situated near Ballindalloch in Speyside, Moray and takes its spring water from Josie’s Well. Glenlivet produces a total of 13 single malt whiskies which are characterised by their light, sweet flavours.
Speyside Whisky – Benromach
Benromach is located near Forres in Moray and takes its water from the Chapelton Springs which run from the Romach Hills.
Benromach has been producing Speyside single malt since 1911. However, in 1983 the distillery closed until Gordon and MacPhail purchased the abandoned distillery and restored to back to working order.
Benromach produces award-winning Speyside Whisky with the Benromach 10 Years Old winning the award for ‘Best Speyside Single Malt’ under 12 years old.
Cardhu Speyside Whisky
Cardhu is one of the typical distilleries in Speyside producing delicious single malt. The distillery’s founder, John Cumming, was a whisky smuggler in the late 19th century.
The distillery was situated on a hill which had 2 important in their single malt production – first the surrounding peat produced soft water and, second, the Cummings could see if the police were coming and then hide their whisky production.
Cardhu is one of the main whiskies in Johnnie Walker blended whiskies.
Dallas Dhu Speyside Single Malt
Dallas Dhu has been producing single malt whisky in Moray Speyside since 1899. The distillery is situated outside Forres near the Moray Firth.
The distillery is now a museum and no longer produces single malt whisky.
Like most Speyside malt whisky producers, Glen Grant started out produce illicit whisky. James and John Grant founded the distillery in 1840 and found the perfect place for their illegal spirit near the port of Gartmouth. There were plenty of barley fields around the distillery and the took water from the River Spey.
Glen Grant continues to produce a malty-flavoured whisky that is popular around the world. In fact, Glen Grant is one of the biggest selling single malts from Scotland in the world.
Glen Moray distillery is located on the banks of the River Lossie in Elgin. Glen Moray produces award-winning Speyside whiskies which include their 1994 Sherry Cask Finish which has won the ‘Best Scotch Speyside Single Case Single Malt’ for whiskies over 21 years old.
Speyside whisky production started at the Strathisla distillery in 1786 and is one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland. Even though Strathisla is one of the oldest distilleries, it’s not one of the best known Speyside whiskies.
Visiting Strathisla on the Speyside Whisky route gives visitors a unique look into some of the oldest whisky producing methods in Scotland.
Your Speyside whisky experience would not be complete without visiting a cooperage. This is where barrels are assembled and repaired for whisky distilleries in Speyside and beyond. The Speyside Cooperage is situated near the Aberlour distillery and it has the only visitor centre in the United Kingdom where visitors can see whisky barrels being made.
Other Speyside Malt Whisky Distilleries
There are, of course, many other distilleries in Speyside producing good single malt Scotch. Here are a few of the more popular Speyside whisky brands:
- The Macallan distillery. Matured in oak sherry casks, The Macallan is a very popular Speyside single malt. The Macallan whiskies are in the top 3 of whisky sales worldwide.
- Aberlour distillery. Aberlour produces a range of fine Speyside whiskies ranging in ages from 10 to 30 years old.
- Balvenie distillery. The Balvenie produces Speyside whisky 12-year old that is matured in whisky oak casks then sherry oak casks. This gives the Balvenie a complexity and richness not found in other Speyside single malts.
- BenRiach distillery. BenRiach produces some of the best Speyside whiskies and their single malts have won various awards, including ‘Best Rare Speyside’ for their 21-year-old BenRiach Authenticus.
The Speyside Whisky Trail
The Speyside whisky route is one of the most fascinating in the world if you are interested in whisky. The whisky trail in Speyside includes museums, working distilleries, large and small distilleries, and a cooperage.