Edinburgh is such a fantastic city to visit all year round and one of the standout attractions for us on our recent trip was the Scotch Whisky Experience. Read on to find out why you just have to add it to your next trip to the Scottish capital.
Top tip: if you’re not too keen on Whisky then don’t worry, only one of us is a whisky fan but we both loved the experience!
The Scots and Whisky
It may be cliche but some things are synonymous with certain countries around the world. Scotland and whisky are certainly no exception and there’s arguably no better place in the world to sample a perfect single malt than the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh.
For many of you though, whisky can be an acquired taste and for some, one taste is more than enough! But did you realise that whisky is like a fine wine? There really is a subtlety in flavour to each region and brand just waiting for you to discover.
So, to do it justice you really need to find the right whisky for you before you make up your mind entirely. And that’s where the Scotch Whisky Experience comes in.
How the Experience Came About
Within a stones throw of Edinburgh castle on the famous Royal Mile is an experience which will take you on a journey through the art of whisky making in Scotland. A journey which will hopefully end by finding you the perfect whisky to suit your taste buds!
However, The Scotch Whisky Experience journey has its own beginnings over 30 years ago when a group of whisky producers decided to jointly invest money in a project which would show off Scotch Whisky to the many tourists that descend on Edinburgh.
From these simple beginnings, the Experience has grown to be a staple of any visit to the Scottish capital. Not only can you learn about the history of whisky making in Scotland but you can enjoy tastings, spend time in the well stocked bar, eat in the restaurant or pick up the perfect gift from the shop.
I Don’t Drink Alcohol or Whisky!
If you’re wondering whether this experience is suitable for people who don’t drink whisky or in fact even alcohol, then I can tell you it definitely is!
If you’re interested in finding out more about the history and geography of Scotland then the Scotch Whisky Experience is the perfect place to take you on this journey.
On top of this, whilst your fellow tour buddies are trying their whisky, you will also get to taste a typical Scottish drink – Irn Bru! This also means the kids won’t be feeling left out during the Experience either.
The Experience – What is it?
The Scotch Whisky Experience itself is made up of 6 different stages taking you from the initial production right through to buying yourself a bottle!
- How it’s made
- How it’s stored
- Where it’s made
- What to try
- Time to taste
- A chance to buy
What we particularly liked about the Experience is having the option to choose a package which suits both your taste for whisky and also how much you’d like to pay.
The tour packages available range from ‘Silver’ to ‘Platinum’ and each one increases in price and the number of whisky’s to taste.
- Silver – 50min tour with 1 whisky for £16pp
- Gold – 70-90min tour with 5 whiskys for £28pp
- Platinum – 90min tour with 7 whisky’s including pairing with cheese and chocolate for £39pp
In addition to the main tours there’s also tasting masterclasses, some even paired with food at the in-house restaurant Amber. So there really is something for everyone. You can even join the Silver and Gold tours on the day as they run every 20 minutes or so. If you want to go on a Platinum tour or one paired with food in the restaurant then you’ll need to pre-book for these.
How the Whisky is Made
The first part of the experience is to take a ride through the processes involved in making Scotch whisky. And when I say a ride, I literally mean a ride!
You will sit inside of an oversized barrel which will take you on a journey of the various stages in whisky production. The barrel ride is also a great bit of fun to keep the kids entertained!
How the Whisky is Stored
After your ride in a barrel you will have learnt how whisky is produced so the next stop is finding out how it’s stored. And that’s by using wooden barrels which are skilfully handmade.
You’ll find out about the different types of barrels and how, along with the length of storage, this affects the colour and taste of the whisky.
Where the Whisky is Made
Next stop is to discover the different whisky making regions of Scotland. For this you’ll be taken into a cinema style room where you’ll be shown views of the breathtaking Scottish landscape.
There are 5 different Scotch whisky making regions which each create a distinct unique flavour.
- The Highlands – this region is in the far North of Scotland
- The Lowlands – this is the area bordering England
- Speyside – this region sits in the North East, entirely surrounded by the Highlands but given special status due to the sheer number of distillers which line the River Spey
- The Isle of Islay – this island sits just offshore the South West of Scotland and is famed for its peaty whiskys
- Campbeltown – this region is a narrow strip of land surrounded by sea in the South West
What to Try
Once you know the different regions and the flavours to expect from each one, it’s time for you to pick one to try.
You’ll have 6 choices to choose from. The 5 distinct regions and also the choice to pick a blended whisky rather than a pure single malt.
The blended whisky’s are specially crafted from two or more single malts which complement each other to make a perfect blend. This is also when the Irn Bru makes an appearance for those who don’t drink alcohol.
The Experience tour guide helps you pick your whisky by using lots of animations and graphics which also adds to the fun and keeps the whole family entertained.
Time to Taste
Now for the best bit – it’s tasting time! Don’t worry about knowing what you’re doing though as your tour guide will tell you how to try the whisky to get the most out of your tasting experience.
You’ll get to do your tasting in an amazing setting, surrounded by a huge collection of Scotch whisky. Then to top off your Scotch Whisky Experience, you even get to keep the crystal tasting glass as a souvenir!
A Chance to Buy
After tasting your chosen whisky the tour experience comes to an end for most of us. Unless of course you’ve purchased one of the more premium packages, in which case you get to try even more whiskys!
For the rest of us it’s time to head to one of the highlights of any museum type experience – the gift shop!
The gift shop has a huge selection of Scotch whisky in just about every bottle size you can imagine. Helpfully, the shop also marks out the whiskys that were part of the tour experience if there was one you particularly liked and wanted to buy.
We thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon at the Scotch Whisky Experience and couldn’t recommend it highly enough. The Experience really is suitable for all the family thanks to the fun and interactive rides and exhibitions. Not to mention the provision of Irn Bru!
If you want to learn about the whisky making process, or even just the history and geography of Scotland, then there’s not many places better to do it.
Are you planning on a trip to Edinburgh soon? Would you try the Scotch Whisky Experience? Let us know in the comments!
The Rambling Travellers