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Issue 130 - The Southern Highlands

Whisky Magazine Issue 130
September 2015


This article is 2 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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The Southern Highlands

Gavin D. Smith embarks on a whisky trail through Perth and its environs

The designated ‘Highlands' region for Scotch malt whisky production is geographically by far the largest in Scotland. It stretches from just north of Edinburgh and Glasgow in the Central Belt right to the northern coast of Caithness and Wolfburn Distillery, situated close to the Pentland Firth, with the Orkney Islands visible in the distance. The region roams from the modern distillery of Ardnamurchan in the far west to Glencadam and Fettercairn in the east.

In total there are currently 27 working distilleries in the Highlands, of which no fewer than 24 offer visitor facilities. For reasons of practicality, we have chosen therefore to focus here on those Highland distilleries within relatively easy reach of one of Scotland's most historical centres, namely the city of Perth.

Perth stands on the banks of the River Tay, and the origins of the settlement often known as ‘The Fair City' lie in the Roman fort of Bertha, constructed in AD83. The location has long had a strategic importance as the lowest crossing point of the Tay and the highest navigable part of the river.

With the development of the railway network throughout Scotland from the mid 19th Century onwards, Perth was ideally placed between the Highlands, where most malt whisky was distilled, and the principal British markets for blended whisky in the south of Scotland and in England. Accordingly, it became a centre for blending and bottling, most notably being associated with the companies of Arthur Bell & Sons, ...

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