Whisky Magazine Issue 97
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Gavin D. Smith follows the Northern Highland Whisky Trail
With its great concentration of distilleries, Speyside is an obvious Mecca for ‘whisky tourists' and the island of Islay attracts many aficionados for the same reason. Recognised ‘whisky trails' also take in the distilleries of Perthshire and the southern Highlands, but less well trodden is the path north of Inverness through the Northern Highland single malts region.
By ignoring the Northern Highland distilleries, whisky lovers are not only missing out on a number of the country's most fascinating and historic distilleries but they are also neglecting some of Scotland's finest coastal scenery.
‘Base camp' for a tour of the area is the historic ‘Highland capital' of Inverness, which, in the days before over-production caught up with the Scotch whisky industry during the 1980s, was home to three distilleries. Today, Glen Mhor and Glen Albyn are long gone, lying beneath the Tarmac and steel structures of a retail park, though part of Milburn has found a new lease of life as ‘The Auld Distillery Bar & Restaurant'.
Central to a tour of Scotland's northernmost mainland distilleries is the A9 road, or ‘Scotland's spine,' as it is sometimes known. Running 273 miles from Stirling to Thurso the A9 now bypasses Inverness, taking the traveller across the Kessock Bridge over the Beauly Firth onto the Black Isle. This is not actually an island at all, but a notably fertile peninsula.
From the Black Isle you may take a detour inland to the west and visit Diageo's Glen Ord disti...