“Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whisky is barely enough,” Mark Twain once famously said. Most whisky connoisseurs would agree. Heck, even we do.
And while enjoying your favourite booze is one thing, understanding where they come from is another — especially if you’re splurging $14,500 on a shot of rare whisky. Lest you end up like wealthy Chinese author Zhang Wei, who decided to buy the world’s most expensive shot of whisky at Devil’s Place bar in Switzerland. And as you can guess, that didn’t turn out well.
So yes, we’re definitely an advocate for enjoying your glass of liquid sunshine right at the source — namely at the distilleries of some of the best whiskies or scotches around the globe, depending on where in the world they came from. This way, not only will you get a behind the scenes look at your favourite whiskies, you will also gain a deeper appreciation for the spirit.
These distillery tours will let you take a look at the processes and experience the making of some of your favourite whiskys. From Scotland to America, check out these best distillery tours in the world that will definitely leave you in high spirits.
The Macallan Distillery, an essential place to go for every whisky fan, is located on its own 370-acre estate bordering the River Spey. Soak in the history of the Macallan Estate with either a full tour (80 minutes) or an extended tour (135 minutes), where you can taste four different Macallan single malts.
Highlights are the Still House 2, where the entire distillation process is on display, as well as Warehouse 7, where an exhibit called “Mastery of Wood” spotlights the oak casks that the Macallan uses — most of which are ex-sherry casks from Spain that help give the whisky its signature flavour.
Established in 1798, Highland Park has won the award for Best Spirit in the World three times — and offers one of the best single malts available. Unlike the distilleries in Speyside, Highland Park’s location on windswept Orkney makes it the northernmost distillery in Scotland.
The distillery offers a variety of tours at different price points. The Magnus Eunson, for example, allows the visitor to taste seven different whiskies. Another one, which is a specialist tour, allows visitors to work a day at the distillery for one day. So if you’d like to gain an appreciation for your favourite spirit, this is definitely the distillery to visit.
The Glenfiddich distillery in Speyside is one of the few ones still owned by its founding family, and its single malt has won more awards than any other Scotch whisky.
The one-hour tour starts with a short film screening which recounts the five generations of family ownership, followed by an on-foot tour of the distillery and stillhouse. Here, guests are able to see how the whiskies are produced, as well as a catch a glimpse of the Grant family home. At the end of the tour, visitors will get the experience of sampling and bottling their own whiskies from a select range of rare casks.
Suntory Yamazaki Distillery is located in Yamazaki Gorge (famed for its quality of spring water) at the foot of Mt. Ten-no between Kyoto and Osaka. This is the birthplace of Japanese whisky.
Take part in the factory tour where you can learn the history of Suntory whisky and the art of whisky making that has developed over the years. The 90-minute tour also includes a visit to the Yamazaki Whisky Museum, where visitors can learn about the history and process of Suntory’s whisky production. End off your visit at the tasting counter, which offers various kinds of whiskies, as well as those exclusively available at the distillery.
One of the longest distillery tours on the famous Kentucky Bourbon train in America, the 90-minute Jim Beam distillery tour is an essential stop for bourbon lovers worldwide.
The tour at the Jim Beam American Stillhouse, nestled on the rolling foothills of Kentucky, will take you through two centuries of history, heritage and craftsmanship of the spirit. It also takes you behind the scenes of the entire bourbon-making process.
Situated at the picturesque Lagavulin Bay on the Isle of Islay, the Lagavulin distillery takes you behind the scenes of the production of the Lagavulin single malt, known for its complex, rich and peaty character.
Check out the Sensory Tasting Experience, which includes a tasting kit complete with five whisky samples and seven aromas that allow visitors to delve into the character of the whisky while the guide talks through the production process.