Before arriving to Scotland, I must admit I had no idea what a big deal Scotch was. Or even, what it really was. I’m so glad that we started our week in Scotland off with a visit to The Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh. It was not only a good introduction to Scotch, but a bit of a geographical lesson and gave us a little insight to the Scottish spirit.
I will start this off by saying, I don’t love whisky.
I appreciate Scotch after this experience, but I would still rather stick to a good hard cider over anything. I still think this is a good experience though, even for non-whisky drinkers. And if you really can’t bring yourself to trying some Scotch, then they offer Scotlands other national beverage for your sampling: Irn-Bru.
Oh, you’ve never heard of Irn-Bru before? Neither had we. It turns out it is the most popular soda in Scotland, even more than Pepsi! Irn-Bru is a soda that tastes unlike anything I have tried before. It’s a light orange color, but not orange flavored. If I could compare it to anything, I would say it tastes like the good part of cough syrup, before you get that bitter aftertaste. It’s an interesting flavor, and it is a miracle for hangovers 😉
You will want to book your tour early in the day, as they were nearly sold out by the time we arrived in the afternoon. We had to wait an hour for our tour to start, so we went downstairs to Amber Restaurant & Whisky Bar to have a few drinks. There was more Scotch choices than we could imagine, so with the bartenders help we managed to pick a few to sample.
The tour started with a ride that takes you through the Scotch whisky making process. You sit in a seat (like the Disneyland teacup ride) and it will take you through different scenes and walk you through the various stages. After the ride we were sat in a room and waited for the rest of our tour group to catch up.
When the full group had arrived the entertaining guide explained how Scotch whisky comes from 5 (or 6, depending on how you classify it) different regions in Scotland. The Highlands & Islands, The Lowlands, Speyside, Islay and Campbeltown (but not so much lately from the last place).
To make Scotch, you need a lot of fresh water. You will find nearly every distillery you come across in Scotland is on or close to a river. The whisky picks up its smell and taste from the water and the environment around it. So Speyside, a small area in the Northeast, produces a lot of fruits. So the Scotch tastes sweet and fruity. While Scotch from The Highlands may taste more peaty and earthy. And alternatively, Scotch from the island of Islay has a smokey, earthy smell from the way that they burn the peat during the whisky making process.
There is a sniff card that has enhanced smells that represent different regions of Scotch whisky production. After you have selected what whisky you want to sample, you bring your glass with you to another room so you can sample it in a special place.
The largest collection of Scotch Whisky is located at the Scotch Whisky Experience. All 3,384 bottles were collected by a Brazilian man named Claive Vidiz over a 35 year period. The collection is quite impressive and it was enjoyable to sip on our whisky while meandering around looking at all the unique and old bottles of Scotch. All of the bottles were unopened, but with time and the ‘Angels Share’ (evaporation) many bottles were only partially full, or even empty.
The tour concludes at bar where you can enjoy a few more drinks, or you can exit through the gift store where you can purchase a variety of whiskeys.
We both throughly enjoyed the 50 minute tour and it gave us a greater appreciation for Scotch and for the Scottish people. On our trip through The Highlands and Isle of Skye we came across many familiar whiskies we saw here, such as Blair Athol (my favorite), Talisker, Ben Nevis and Dalmore.
- For info on how Scotch is made, check out –> whisky.com
- The Basic (“Silver”) Tour costs £15.00 and lasts about 50 minutes
- You will get to keep your sampling glass as a souvenir
- For All tours & prices check HERE
- Location: on The Royal Mile at 354 Castlehill, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH1 2NE
- Recommend public transportation, as parking would be difficult
**Disclosure: We were provided with free media passes to The Scotch Whisky Experience, complements of Visit Scotland. This did not influence our review of the tour, and we would absolutely recommend it for anyone visiting Edinburgh!***