Whiskey is made from barley, yeast and stream water and each year, 524,009,191 million litres of whisky are produced in Scotland every year and each distillery, currently there are 71, believes with an unshakeable conviction, that their whisky is the finest in the world. You can see the proof of these claims everywhere on the Whisky Trail. A 70 mile (112kms) long signposted tour that takes in several malt whiskey distilleries.
The trail is focused around the town of Dufftown in the Grampian district in the heart of the Scottish Highlands
Dufftown was laid out in 1817 by James Duff, the 4th Earl of Fife, initially to give employment after the Napoleonic Wars, and has the appearance of a particularly well-appointed Scottish village. The first of numerous distilleries were established in 1823 and gave rise to the couplet “Rome was built on seven hills Dufftown stands on seven stills"
The route takes in such distilleries as Glenlivet, Glenfarclas, Cardgu, Macallan, Glen Grant, Strathisla and Glenfiddich to name only a few.
If there’s a catch, then it is this. You can’t really do the Whisky Trail without a car. There is no real public transport that can take you along the route and drop you off at each distillery. And if you do bring your car then you can’t really taste any of the whisky at the conclusion of each tour of these producers of fine Scotch!
Fortunately there is a solution, as the district has more than enough pubs and hotel bars whose shelves are very well stocked with many, many choices of the local scotch. So create your own whisky trail and leave the car and get the barman to pour you a large one.
Some important factors to consider when choosing your scotch is that it will take time to select the scotch, which is right for you. There are an estimated 2,500 Scotch whiskies. In making your selection of the correct drink you must consider the history, as every distillery has its own folklore, the geography as Islay malts are the generally the smoky ones and the Speyside ones the more rounded, the aesthetics such as the look and feel of a bottle and its label are important.
To water or not to water this is the question. This is a hotly contended issue among Scotch drinkers. Some say whisky is designed to be watered in order to bring out its full qualities, others say that it is made to be drunk neat. It is best to try your scotch both ways, just to make sure.
It’s important to acknowledge the drink by inhaling the aromas. Don’t feel you have to put a name to the aroma, just enjoy the whole experience and there is something distinct and sublime about the aroma of a fine scotch.
Finally take a nip, enough to coat the tongue well. Hold the drink awhile on your tongue to truly experience the taste as it’s been said that a quality single malt should taste like an angel crying on your tongue.
That’s a big claim, but there are few drinks that are so much part of a national culture and pride as Scotch Whisky.
Below is the route as shown on Google Maps