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Top 5 UK Whisky Distilleries

19 May 2018 | Emily May

It’s World Whisky Day, and whether you’re addicted to the fermented grain or a total novice, the process of making a satisfying single malt is an undeniably fascinating affair. We’ve rounded up the top 5 UK Whisky distilleries where you can learn how the experts transform barley to beverage, and where you can maybe find your new favourite tipple.

Talisker Distillery, Isle of Skye
The oldest working distillery on the stunning Isle of Skye, Talisker Distillery is located on the shores of Loch Harport, and is worth a visit even if just for its surrounding views of the dramatic Cuillin mountains. Built in 1830 despite opposition from local clergy, Talisker produces a sweet, full bodied single malt, which writer R.L Stevenson is reported as saying is “The King o’drinks as I conceive it.” A tour around the full premises including their five copper stills is only £10, but for £25, whisky lovers can enjoy an informal tasting of several Talisker Single Malts. After all, it would be silly not to sample some after being surrounded by that temping smoky smell for which Talisker is renowned.

Image Credit: James Anderson via Flickr
Talisker Distillery is located at Carbost, Isle of Skye, IV47 8SR
Edradour Distillery, Pitlochry
Claiming to be the smallest distillery in Scotland, Edradour Distillery in Pitlochry is another golden oldie, dating all the way back to 1825. It’s committed to maintaining its authentic, small scale production methods, equipment (some of which is the last in Scotland) and unique traditions, such as feeding the draff (used barley) to the cows on their local farm. It’s been compared to a picturesque model village, but despite its size, impressively boasts over 25 different expressions of Scottish Single Malt Whisky, each with individual flavours. One example is their Calendonian 12-Year, which was selected by Scottish Folk singer Dougie Maclean and named after his famous song. Admission is only £10 for adults and half price for children, so you can ween them onto whisky from a young age with a complimentary wee dram at the end of the tour.

Image Credit: Nigel Cole via Flickr
Edradour Distillery is located at Pitlcohry, Perthshire, PH16 5JP
The Lakes Distillery, Cockermouth
Although many whisky lovers may immediately turn to a classic Scotch or Irish, The Lakes Distillery are passionate about developing the English Whisky scene. Originally founded by Paul Currie in 2014 and based in a renovated Victorian model farm, The Lakes Distillery is a modern contender against its established Scottish rivals. The Distillery is set amidst the majestic Lakeland fells and in close proximity to the River Derwent, where they source the crystal clear water giving their products a high quality taste. To date they’ve had to call their whisky “blended”, however, they will produce their first single malt in 2018, which will be the first Lakes Malt from the Lake District in over 100 years. They also produce a Lakes Gin and Vodka for those who prefer clear spirits. Traditional tours start from £12.50, but if you fancy something a bit different, you can also enlist onto their Meet the Alpacas tour to meet the Alpaca herd onsite at the distillery.

Image Credit: The Lakes Distillery via Facebook
The Lakes Distillery is located at Setmurthy, near Bassenthwaite Lake, Cumbria CA13 9SJ
Penderyn Distillery, Brecon Beacons
Welsh whisky production fell-foul of the popularity of the temperance movement, and when Penderyn Distillery was opened on St. David’s Day 2004 in the presence of HRH Prince Charles, it became the first whisky distillery in Wales for over a century. Situated in the historic village of Penderyn to make use of the site’s own supply of fresh natural spring water, the distillery now has an international reputation with markets in China, Russia and Australia. For just £9 you can view their mill, mash tun, single copper-pot Penderyn stills, and also be greeted with samples at the end of the tour. If by the end you’re inspired to get distilling yourself, they also run masterclasses and interactive experiences.

Image Credit: Penderyn Distillery via Facebook
Penderyn Distillery is located in Penderyn, CF44 0SX
Glenfiddich Distillery, Banffshire
For our final distillery, we’re back in Scotland, as a whisky round up wouldn’t be complete without the renowned Glenfiddich distillery, a family owned business that’s been on the Scotch Whisky scene since 1886/7. One of the largest whisky distilleries in the UK, it’s a much bigger operation that some of its more independent, quirky counterparts. Glenfiddich offer three different tours, the crowning jewel being “Glenfiddich Solera: Deconstructed”, where following a distillery tour specifically focusing on the unique production process of their Solera whisky, you get the chance to become a Malt Master, and create your very own version of Glenfiddich 15-year-old to take home with you.

Image Credit: Robin Keymer via Flickr
Glenfiddich Distillery is located in Dufftown, Banffshire, AB55 4DH

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