The Whisky Explorer tour plan guides you on a whisky trail around Scotlands Lowland, Highland and Speyside distilleries.
The tour route also takes in iconic Scottish landmarks such as Culloden, Loch Ness, Balmoral castle and the Cairngorm Mountains.
Allow a minimum of 7 days to drive this tour route.
The guide contains extra day trip suggestions for extending the tour to 10+ days
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Guide Updated - 3 January 2022
Approximately 482 miles / 775 Km
7 to 10 Days
Explore Edinburgh -
Edinburgh is a compact city and easy to explore on foot. We provide directions for 3 walking routes that show you different sides of the Capital city; a walk down the historical Royal Mile, a riverside path to the Botanic Gardens that escapes the hustle & bustle of city life and a more energetic hike to Arthur’s Seat with the option to continue to a pub with lots of history.
Edinburgh boasts a great range of atmospheric old pubs and we steer you to a selection of our favourites where you can sample some single malts with the locals.
The guide also includes options for day trips around the surrounding area by car, bus or train.
The day trips by car include the option of a tour of West Lothian where you can notch up the first distillery visit on this Whisky Trail
Stopover in Edinburgh
Edinburgh to Pitlochry -
Two route options are provided for this drive that ends in Pitlochry area where you find several distilleries that represent the Highland region of this Whisky Trail:
The longer route takes you west, via Stirling, and then into the Trossachs National Park. “Outlander” fans can stop to explore Doune Castle (“Castle Leoch” in the TV show), and further along the route we guide you to stone circles where you can try to travel through time. After a photo stop at the Falls of Dochart, you travel along the shores of Loch Tay towards Aberfeldy and Pitlochry, where you can end the day with a choice of distillery tours.
Driving Distance: ~111 miles
The shorter route allows you time to spend a full afternoon in Pitlochry. Heading north from Edinburgh, you cross the Forth estuary with views of the famous Forth Rail Bridge. You then speed north to Perth, but can extend the drive with a visit to the pretty village of Falkland where Mary Queen of Scots had her favourite palace. Falkland has also featured in the filming of "Outlander". From Perth to Pitlochry, we suggest a back road route that visits Scone Palace, the ancient crowning place of Scottish Kings, and the romantic ruins of Dunkeld Cathedral beside the River Tay.
Driving Distance: ~81 miles
Short tours around Pitlochry - If you arrive early in Pitlochry, or wish to stay for several nights, you will enjoy the 2 short tour options supplied in this guide. These tours feature the grand Blair castle and scenic Loch Tummel as well as less obvious places such as a deserted Blackhouse village.
Stopover in Pitlochry / Aberfeldy area
Pitlochry to Royal Deeside -
You could start this day with a visit to nearby Blair Castle as the drive to Braemar in Royal Deeside does not take long. On the way to Braemar, you follow the path of an 18th century military road that was built through Glen Shee to enable the deployment of Redcoat troops into the “Jacobite” heartlands.
From Braemar, you can explore the quaint villages, verdant woodlands and wild mountains that Queen Victoria fell in love with.
Continuing the Whisky Trail theme, you can take a tour of the Royal Lochnagar distillery that supplied Queen Victoria during her visits to Balmoral Castle. But we wouldn’t recommend you copy her idea of mixing the whisky with port.
Driving Distance: ~56 miles
Additional Sightseeing - If you arrive in Royal Deeside early, or wish to spend 2 nights in the region, you could explore further afield with our route directions for a tour of Castles and Standing Stones. This region has some of the most interesting and complete castles in Scotland, but it is also home to a large number of stone circles in secluded corners. We guide you on a trail that includes the castles of Crathes, Drum, Fraser & Craigievar, whilst also steering you to discover atmospheric Neolithic monuments where time stands still. ~70 miles
Stopover in Royal Deeside area
Royal Deeside to Speyside -
Today you traverse the Cairngorm mountains via one of the highest roads in Scotland. It is not far to drive so you have time to immerse yourself in the Speyside Whisky Trail.
The famous distilleries along this route are Glenlivet, Glenfarclas, Cragganmore, Aberlour, Glenfiddich and Macallan, but we include directions for exploring many more.
If you want a break from whisky tastings, you may enjoy a visit to Elgin with its magnificent cathedral and cashmere mill. We also give you tips on the best bars for continuing your whisky sampling into the evening.
Driving Distance: ~52 miles
Stopover in Craigellachie / Elgin area
Speyside to Inverness -
A short drive via the Moray coast with options to mix your whisky with Scottish history.
You can explore Cawdor Castle with its curious legends, the spooky burial tombs at Clava Cairns, the imposing defences of Fort George and the windswept battlefield of Culloden Moor.
The day ends in the lively town of Inverness, or the quieter villages of the nearby Black Isle. Our guide gives suggestions on where to find live music and a great whisky bar with a very knowledgeable landlord.
Driving Distance: ~57 miles
Stopover in Inverness area
Inverness to the Cairngorms National Park -
From Inverness, we provide a choice of route directions for the drive past Loch Ness. You can either take the main tourist trail past Urquhart Castle and the “Nessie” attractions, or you can follow a less travelled road along the south shore.
You continue through the Great Glen to Spean Bridge where you turn east to follow an old military road through the central Highlands. Along the way we will guide you to explore waterfalls, picnic spots and the origins of the River Spey.
The journey ends in the Cairngorms National Park where you might be able to arrive in time for a sheepdog demonstration, or a nostalgic steam train ride.
Driving Distance: ~108 miles
Stopover in the Cairngorms (Aviemore) area
Cairngorms to Edinburgh -
The last journey leg of this Whisk Trail tour is a relatively direct drive back to Edinburgh that can be done in under 3 hours. But, if you aren’t in a hurry, we have an alternative route that lets you explore the outdoor activities and lovely woodlands of the Rothiemurchus estate before picking up the main road south.
On the way south, you can fit in one last distillery tour with a visit to Dalwhinnie which holds the title of the highest operational distillery in Scotland.
Driving Distance: ~128 miles
Stopover in Edinburgh
To help you book the best places to stay, we offer a guide to Recommended Accommodation along the route of this tour.
We personally visit all the accommodation featured in the guides and only select places where we would wish to stay ourselves. Read More...
When you "Checkout", you will have the option to buy the Accommodation Guide.
When you buy a Secret Scotland Tour Itinerary you will receive a Discount Code that gets you a 10% reduction on the cost of Car Hire from Arnold Clark Rental.
Simply use the Secret Scotland code when you book via the Arnold Clark website and your car hire discount will automatically apply.
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