The Trossachs and Loch Lomond Whisky Distilleries
When thinking of Scotland, most people think almost simultaneously of the country's most popular export, Scotch Whisky. A visit to Scotland and to the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park would be incomplete without experiencing Scotland's most popular produce, Whisky. A close second to that must be the 100's of Real Ales produced by Scotlands Micro Breweries, which are also making huge impact on the variety of real ales available to beer drinkers. From the hundreds of Whisky distilleries that once existed in Scotland about 100 are still active and thriving.
Below you can find the distilleries located in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and those that are within 50 miles of the Park. Most distilleries offer tours where you can learn how to create Scotland's popular drink and taste the results of the process at the end of the tour. Besides tours for beginners, some distilleries even offer tours for whisky experts or tours where you can create your own blended whisky. Whisky distillery tours are fascinating as you see how plain Scottish water is turned into "Uisge Beatha", (pronounced "wish-ga bah-ha" or "ish-ga ba-ha") meaning the "Water of Life".
Scotch Whisky can be traditionally divided by its region where the whisky is produced. There are 5 traditional regions: The Highlands, Lowlands, Islay, Campbeltown and Spreyside. Spreyside in the north-east of Scotland has half the whisky distilleries and was traditionally considered as part of the Highland Region. Now it is recognized as its own region as well as Campbeltown which has just recently recognized as an own whisky region again. All regions have their distinct character in taste and look.
Types of Scotch Whisky
There are basically two different types of Scotch Whisky: Single Malt Scotch Whisky and Single Grain Scotch Whisky.
Single Malt Whisky is produced from only one distillery and has only water and malted barley as ingredients. Single Grain Scotch has whole grains of the cereals additionally to the ingredients that Single Malt Whisky has. Besides these two types there are Blended Scotch Whiskies which can be divided into 3 types.
Blended Malt Whisky is a blend of at least two different Single Malts from different distilleries.
Blended Grain Whiskies are the same with the difference that Grain Whiskies and not Malt Whiskies are blended together. A whisky that is called Blended Scotch Whisky is a blend of Single Malt(s) and Single Grain(s). Most of the well known brand names known around the World are in the Blended Scotch Whisky category e.g Johnnie Walker, Famous Grouse and Dewars.
Besides all the types mentioned above there is an additional way to categorize Scotch: Peated or not (less) peated. The Islay Region, for example, is well-known for its smoky flavour while the Highlands are known for the sweetness and are only slightly smoky. Also the Lowland as well as the Speyside whiskies are known for their light but complex flavours.
There are many words that can be used for describing the flavour of whisky. The most basic ones are: Fruity, floral, peaty, feinty, sulphury, woody, winey and cereal. For more general rather than precise descriptions, common words are: light, smooth, rich, clean, fresh, coarse, rich and heavy.
A Good Whisky
After having some basic knowledge about Scotch Whisky an important question arises: How can I recognize a good whisky? Well, unfortunately there is no general answer and you have to try out which type(s) of Scotch you prefer the most. However, there are a few points that can help you when purchasing whisky:
- The bottle should show the age of the whisky.
- You don't need to buy the most expensive bottle you find to have a good whisky.
- The older the Scotch, the smoother it is.
- Find out which water (and malt) has been used.
- Make sure that the whisky doesn't have 'spirit caramal' or any dye added.
Now that you are prepared for your whisky experience you just need to choose the distillery you would like to visit. For more information about each distillery and the whisky they produce, click on the buttons below or use the map to find the locations of the distilleries of featured pubs and hotels.
On the Whisky Lovers Trail you can find many bars and hotels which have a good selection and knowledge of the whiskies they sell and the local distilleries. Some hotels and pubs have extensive whisky notes available and offer taster whisky menus so that you can experiment to find something that suits your taste. This is a great way to discover the subtleties and distinctive flavours of the different regions as whisky, like Scottish real ale, is an art in itself. The secret to both is of course, in the water!
Links to the Distilleries
View Whisky Lovers Trail in a larger map