After departing Edinburgh, we head west along ‘The Royal Route’ stopping briefly at South Queensferry to take in the views before passing Linlithgow Palace and Stirling Castle. The landscape changes from the flat valley floor of The Carse of Stirling to a mountainous view as we travel into the western highlands. We stop at the imposing ruined Kilchurn Castle at the head of loch awe to stretch our legs. We continue on to the west coast at the Victorian port at Oban where we tour Oban distillery and enjoy a tasting. Oban is the seafood capital of Scotland and we can provide recommendations of our favourite seafood restaurants along the harbour before checking into your hotel for the evening.
After a hearty breakfast we leave Oban and travel along the coast towards the Kintyre Peninsula, stopping at the ancient Neolithic landscape of Kilmartin Glen. There are hundreds of ancient monuments and historic sites that we will explore before arriving at the port of Kennacraig for the ferry to Islay. The ferry crossing is around two hours and offers stunning views to the mainland and southern Hebrides islands of Gigha, Jura and Islay.
On arrival into Port Ellen or Port Askaig you can almost smell the whisky in the air. There is time for a light lunch before arriving at the trio of distilleries on the southern coast of Islay; Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg. We will tour Laphroaig and learn about their process as well as visiting their maltings, a rare experience at distilleries these days. We’ll enjoy a private whisky tasting at the other two. There are plenty of opportunities to pick up a bottle or two and of course it always tastes better when purchased at source! We then arrive at your chosen accommodation for the night.
This morning we will explore some of the island of Islay and we’ll show you some of our favourite spots along the road. Long sandy beaches, whitewashed cottages, ancient sites and a plethora of wildlife awaits and you will explore the remote western shores of the island. We visit Bowmore for a pre-lunch tasting and opportunity to pick up a bottle.
After lunch we visit Bruichladdich Distillery to sample some of their whiskies including the worlds most peated single malt. Then we travel to the other side of Islay to Bunnahabhain and the biggest distillery on Islay, Caol Ila. Their new visitor experiences are ’taste lead’ and we will have a tasting at each to understand the subtle differences in the dram that make Islay so unique.
After breakfast we catch the ferry back to the mainland. We’ll travel along Loch Fyne, the longest sea loch in Scotland, before arriving at the town of Inveraray. There is an opportunity to visit Loch Fyne Whisky and learn about their blended or single malts, liquors and botanical gins before continuing on to Inverary Caslte, the seat of the Clan Campbell for a tour. We have lunch at the famous Loch Fyne Oyster Bar that serves a great range of local seafood.
We then start our journey back to Edinburgh, passing through some impressive scenery over ’The Rest and Be Thankful’ past Loch Long and to Loch Lomond. We stop at the conservation village of Luss on the western bank to admire the view to Ben Lomond and have lunch and stretch our legs exploring this picture-postcard village. Then we will continue through The Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park before continuing back to the Carse of Stirling with impressive views of Stirling Castle and The Wallace Monument before returning to your hotel in Edinburgh.
This is a fairly relaxed itinerary and of course it is all about whisky and food! If there is something in particular you want to see or do then please just ask. All our tours are private and therefore fully customisable.
It is also possible to visit Jura Distillery on the adjacent isle of Jura whilst on Islay either by replacing one of the Islay distilleries for the trip to Jura or by adding a day into the itinerary.