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A distillery visit isn’t just about the free drams at the end. It’s about discovering incredible history, seeing skilled craftspeople at work, and understanding a bit about the Scottish national identity. On top of all that, there are of course the free drams at the end!
We’ve picked out some of our favourite train and ferry accessible places to sample some of Scotland’s rich history and its finest drinks.
Torabhaig Distillery, Isle of Skye
Torabhaig is the newest distillery on the Isle of Skye. It sits at the south of the island on the Sleat Peninsula. That means plenty of incredible views over Loch Hourn.
You won’t be familiar with its spirit yet, as it only went into production in early 2017. The project was a long time in the works though, with plans to convert the 200-year old farmstead into a distillery first drawn up in 2005.
The distillery has a visitor centre and café, and tours of can be booked in advance. There’s no single malt to taste quite yet, but at the end of the tour you’ll be able to sample some blended expressions.
To get there from Mallaig, catch the 45-minute ferry over to Skye, then take a ten-minute bus journey to the distillery.
Tobermory Distillery, Mull
The pretty seafront town of Tobermory on Mull is sure to put a smile on anyone’s face. A visit to the town’s distillery will turn that into a wide, beaming grin.
Established in 1798, this is one of Scotland’s oldest distilleries, and one of the earliest employers in the town, which had only come into being a decade or so before; the early inhabitants of Tobermory clearly had their priorities straight. This distillery produces two malts: the fruity, unpeated Tobermory and the more robust and smoky Ledaig. If you go for the tour, make sure you get a dram of both.
With a Rail and Sail pass you can take the train to Oban and the ferry to Craignure on Mull. From there you can catch a public service bus to Tobermory.
Springbank Distillers, Campbeltown
Campbeltown Loch isn’t made from whisky, despite the wishes of many a Scots balladeer. The good news is that there are a few distilleries in the town who make plenty of the stuff.
Springbank Distillery has been around since 1828. Established on the site of an illicit still, it has been owned by the same family for five generations — many of the production methods used by the founders are still applied in the distillery today.
There are two tours available to visitors. If you have time, you could plump for the tour that takes in the historic Springbank Distillery and the nearby, more modern, Glengyle Distillery.
With a Rail and Sail pass you can take the train to Ardrossan Harbour and the ferry to Campbeltown. The distillery is just a short walk from the pier.
Highland Park Distillery and Visitor Centre, Kirkwall, Orkney
Highland Park Distillery in Kirkwall on the Orkney Islands is possibly the most northerly whisky producer in Scotland. The wild seas and Viking heritage have made their mark on Orkney — on its people, culture, and, of course, its whisky.
Any trip to Orkney is a real adventure. The journey by train and by boat prepares you for the wild climate ahead, and the sense that you’re approaching somewhere truly unique. The distillery tour will take you back in time, with a short film about Orkney’s past, Highland Park and its Viking roots, followed by an exploration of the distillery and ending with a dram or two of Highland Park.
With a Rail and Sail pass you can take the train to Aberdeen and the ferry to Kirkwall.
Rail and Sail lets you combine train and ferry travel to locations on Orkney, Shetland, Mull, Skye, The Outer Hebrides, the Clyde Coast and Belfast.
Book your ticket online, over the phone or at your local staffed station. No need to book in advance, unless you’re going to Belfast.
Then just keep hold of your ticket to display on each stage of your journey.