Whether you are a collector or a casual drinker, you can start visiting any of the distilleries out there. Many whisky distilleries offer tours, and some provide different experiences of your choice. Most of these tours use a similar approach, which is, to begin with, the history of the whiskey distillery, the barley used, the water source description, and so on. For a first-timer, a whisky tour can be bewildering. But, you can make the most of your visit by following effective strategies.
Plan Well Ahead
Every year, numerous people visit a whiskey distillery, so it is not surprising that these tours quickly fill up, especially during peak season. If you are planning to go to a specific experience, contact them, and book in advance to reserve a place. Many distilleries are open every day, but others have more restrictions on their opening hours. For example, the colder months tend to have shorter opening hours. So, make sure to check ahead.
Dress accordingly, depending on the time of the year. Keep in mind that still rooms can be warmer during distillation even when the weather is cold outside. Wear comfortable walking shoes or sneakers, as you may need to stand on open mesh industrial flooring or climb steep stairs. Access in these distilleries is improving, but some of their production areas are not accessible to wheelchairs. Also, old distilleries tend to have no available elevators between their floors; therefore, if you or someone in your group requires extra assistance, contact and inform the visitor centre in advance.
Book Your Tour
Typically, distillery tours offer two options for visitors; tasting and distillery. A tasting tour usually has a distillery tour included in their fee. But, the tasting tour focuses more on the product than the process. This kind of whisky tour is attractive to seasoned and more experienced drinkers who want to taste different types of whiskey that are led by a professional from the distillery.
On the other hand, a distillery tour takes visitors through the process of whiskey making and less on the product. Each whiskey distillery offers a distinct taste of their beverages. At the end of the tour, you will likely get a free taste of the drink.
What Whisky to Purchase
After immersing yourself in the world of whiskey and having a taste of it, you will be ushered into the distillery shop, wherein you can see a beautiful display of whiskey bottles. There are also tchotchkes, keepsakes, and other accessories. Often, the ticket for your tour enables you to have a discount on the products.
Choosing the best bottle depends on your taste. Remember that these whiskey distillery shops can provide unique and rare products that are not available elsewhere. Focus on these rare expressions, particularly if you want a special souvenir or are into collecting. Also, there are independent bottlers that own whiskey distilleries and offer independent bottling in a single cask. Take your time browsing their immaculate shelves.
The key to making the most of your experience is choosing and planning well with the available whisky tour that you may be able to fit in and what day you can visit. If you are travelling with a larger group, organise ahead of time so you can set up your own tour.