When in Scotland – The Scotch Whisky Experience

After a lovely little getaway to Dalhousie Castle, we were back in Edinburgh. We dropped our bags off at our hostel, and were off on our next adventure. And this would be an “educational” one 😉!

We walked the short distance from our hostel to the Royal Mile and then turned up towards Edinburgh Castle.

Our destination? The Scotch Whisky Experience!

When in Scotland, right?

Plus, after trying Jameson Irish Whiskey in Ireland, how could we not try Scotch Whisky in Scotland for a comparison?

At the Scotch Whisky Experience, there are a variety of tour experiences that you can choose from. We booked our tickets for the Silver Tour ahead of time. The Silver Tour included: an introduction to whisky, a dram of Scotch whisky, a viewing of the World’s largest collection of Scotch whisky and a souvenir of crystal whisky tasting glass.

We checked in at the ticket office and waited for the tour to start. The first part of the tour was an interesting one… A barrel ride!

You sit in a faux whisky barrel and this “ride” takes you through a history of whisky making. It was a little cheesy but there was some good information about the history and process of making whisky by our guide… a holographic guide! After going through the centuries, you arrive back in present day and a knowledgeable (real human) guide takes over.

We headed into the tasting room, where we learned more about the different whisky regions of Scotland. It was interesting to hear about the unique characteristics of each region and what makes each of them special. We each got a sniff card of each region’s special scent. (Happy to report, the sniff card still works even a year later!) Our guide led us through each of the regions and we got to test our noses! We could catch some of the flavours (that peaty smell!) but some of the subtle ones… not so much!

Next came the fun part – the tasting!

From our smell test, we each got to pick the whisky region that we wanted to sample from. Our guide came around and poured us a wee dram of whisky from that region. Ioana went with the Lowland region and I went with the Highland region (Aberfeldy 12-year).

Then we got a lesson in how to properly do a tasting – what to look for, what to smell and what to taste. We won’t give away too much of the lesson 😉

After that, with our whisky in hand, we headed off to see “The Collection.” The Scotch Whisky Experience is also known for the incredible collection of whisky housed there – to be specific, the 3,384 bottles of whisky in the collection. And we were about to see it!

In a dim room filled with shelves and glass cases, bottle after bottle of whisky is on display here. The warm amber glow of the bottles reminds me of the liquid gold that we were sipping on.

This collection was previously the personal collection of Claive Vidiz – a whisky enthusiast and founding member of the Brazilian Association of Whisky Collectors. Over some 35 years, he collected the almost 3400 unopened bottles. In 2006, the collection was returned home to Scotland after the Scottish distiller Diageo purchased it in its entirety. Now it is known as the Diageo Claive Vidiz Collection.

It was really cool to see whiskies from various years and from various distilleries – some that we had heard of and some that we hadn’t. I also liked looking at the bottles! Some were your standard bottles but others were really unique!

Two of my favourites! 🐶

After finishing our whisky, we got to take our Glencairn whisky glasses home as a souvenir, which is great because now we have proper whisky glasses! (which have gotten a fair bit of use since!)

What did we think of this experience?

We enjoyed it – sure it is catered to tourists and the barrel ride was a little iffy, but the rest of it was interesting and we felt it was worthwhile. We knew going into it that they were not going to give us their high-end whiskies to sample – and frankly it would probably be a waste since we probably wouldn’t know how to appreciate it at that stage. Another reason we went with this tour was that we were not heading out to an actual distillery while we were in Scotland. So we thought this was a good way to learn more about whisky while we were here.

We would say… if you have never had whisky before, the Silver Tour might be a good introduction. If you are a whisky fan, perhaps one of the other Tour Experiences or touring your favourite distillery might be a better fit.

Or better yet, turn it into a road trip and visit Speyside’s Malt Whisky Trail. As we learned at the Scotch Whisky Experience, Speyside has a large concentration of whisky distilleries and I think it would be a really cool adventure to drive around and visit some (all!?) of the distilleries for a tour! (Just make sure you take turns driving – no drinking and driving!) And while you’re in Speyside, drop by Aberlour and check out the Walkers Shortbread shop! (The factory is also there but they don’t offer any tours. They do have a shop on site, I believe.) I haven’t been before but I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want to stop by for some buttery shortbread! Perfect roadtrip snack! 😍 It’s  definitely on my list to visit!

Who else has been to the Scotch Whisky Experience? How did you find it? Has anyone been to the Walkers Shortbread Factory or store?

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie


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