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Whisky And The Scottish Whisky Trail

Scotch Whisky & Scotland’s Whisky Trail

With a history and origin shrouded in mystery, whisky has evolved a lot in the past 500 years, from being considered a cure or a relief for palsy, colic and smallpox to a stimulant for cold winters. The first appearance was in the 15th century, in print, but many think that it has an unwritten story before that. The name of this amber nectar has its roots in Scottish Gaelic, a Celtic dialect spoken in Scotland, “usquebaugh” or “uisge beatha” word which can be translated as “water of life”.

Evidence shows that whisky may have been brought by Christian monks, although no one can prove that the farmers didn’t learn the art of distilling by themselves with the surplus of barley that they had. The process of making whisky is very interesting and the best way to learn about it is by taking the Scottish Whisky Trail. The authentic scotch is produced under a strict license, ensuring the safety and quality – drinks that are improperly produced can be very poisonous.

Scottish Malt WhiskyEven if Scotland is divided in five major whisky producing regions with different styles, by far Speyside is the most famous of all. Speyside is approximately located between Aberdeen and Inverness which is perfect for tourists visiting the Highlands of Scotland. Located on the River Spey in Moray, this region is recognized for the unique character of its whisky and for being home of brands like The Glenlivet, Glenfiddich and The Macallan. Another independent region is The Isle of Islay, with nine famous distilleries, the oldest one having a century.

Take the Malt Whisky Trail tour if you want to learn more about the secrets behind the art of whisky production. Speyside is the starting point for a wonderful incursion in the world of whisky. Often known as the Malt Whisky Country, Speyside is the place where more than half of the malt distilleries of Scotland are. From barrel to bottle, this trail is the paradise of the amber nectar lovers.

Along the trail, from the nine distilleries included in the tour, tourists will visit a historic distillery and also the famous Speyside Cooperage. Not all the distilleries are open to the public, but those included in the route are well marked and full of tourists. The distilleries can be visited in any order: Benromach, Cardhu, Dallas Dhu, Glen Grant, Glen Moray, Glenfiddich, The Glenlivet, Speyside Cooperage and Strashisla.

Dating from 1947 and located right in the heart of the rolling hills of Scotland, Speyside Cooperage has made the best casks using the finest American oak. This is the only place in the entire UK where you can see with your own eyes how whisky barrels are made using ancient methods along with traditional tools. Pay attention because at one point you will have to create your own mini cask. Unfortunately, in 2008 the Taylor family, the owners of the cooperage, sold it to Tonnellerie François Frères a French company.

Each distillery offers a unique experience from tasting and nosing sessions to samples of handcrafted malts. Benromach distillery, is not only the smallest working distillery but is also owned and managed for over 118 years by Gordon & MacPhail, a family business run by the 3rd and 4th generation of the Urquhart family.

Located just on the outskirts of the beautiful ancient market town of Forres, tourists will find two passionate and experienced distillers that use the purest spring water and the finest Scottish barley to hand craft Benromach. Behind the scenes, tourists will learn all about the process used from malting, milling, mashing, fermentation, distillation and maturation.

The oldest distillery in the Highlands is by far Strathisla Distillery, dating from 1786. Prepare yourself to be blown away by the Highland hospitality while learning about the art of blending and distilling the whisky. This ancient distillery is home of Chivas Regal, a famous whisky brand. If possible, book the all 3 tours, The Ultimate Chivas Experience and also the 2 tours that explore the different aspects of blended and single malt whiskies.

Another fascinating distillery is Cardhu, because it is the only one pioneered by a woman. Set right above the River Spey, on the Mannoch Hill, this distillery saw the light of day in 1811. With a clean and warm taste, often described by the critics as being “silky”, the malt whisky produced here is used in a couple of award winning Johnnie Walker blends. In 1893, the Walker family and the Cumming family teamed up to ensure the quality of the Johnnie Walker blends and also the international popularity growth. The whisky produced here is maturated for 12 years in very old oak casks.

The industry of Scotch whisky is very large and is continuously growing. The traditional methods and values are adapted to the modern world, especially to the new generation of consumers. Use all your senses when you embark on a journey of learning all about whisky.


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Dunrobin Castle Falconry

Falconry Demonstrations At Dunrobin Castle Sutherland

Dunrobin CastleMany of our guests add a visit to Dunrobin Castle to the itinerary while they are staying with us here at Beach Cottage but throughout the year everyone has returned excited about the Falconry demonstrations. Dunrobin Castle located in Sutherland is an amazing old castle which has been in Lord Strathnaver’s family for more than 700 years.

Dunrobin Castle has 189 and in its history was used as a naval hospital during WW1 and a boys boarding school in the 60’s and 70’s. The gardens and grounds of the castle were originally created in 1850 and the design has stayed pretty much the same since then although new plants are regularly introduced. The castle is a popular venue for weddings and corporate events offering privacy and stunning setting perfect for wedding photos.

The Falconry demonstrations take place daily through the summer months at 11.30 am and 2:00 pm on the lawn of the castle.  The flying birds of prey including, golden eagles and peregrine falcons, both native to the Highlands of Scotland, show there flying and hunting skills in the shows. The castle’s falconer, Andy Hughes, also explains how the hawks, falcons and owls hunt and kill their prey and incorporates this with the flying displays. Visitors get to hold and participate with the birds and have the opportunity after the shows for photography with the birds.

All of our guests that have seen the shows commented on how incredible Andy’s interaction with the birds is and all enjoyed the humour that he adds. Dunrobin Castle is now one of our top recommendations and we suggest that visitors all watch the falconry shows. The castle is open from March to October and there is also a gift shop and food at the Castle Buffet.


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Strange Must See Places To Visit In Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s Strange Places To Visit

Scotland has been a major tourist destination for many decades and it has recently been named by the American news channel CNN as the world’s top travel destination for 2013. Its super rich history, natural beauty, pristine lakes, glens and well-preserved enchanting castles are among the top reasons for making Scotland the place to see and visit this year.

A trip to the capital of Edinburgh has hundreds of attractions to see and do, such as Arthur’s Seat, the Military Tattoo and the National Museum. If you don’t fancy these mainstream attractions and want to witness the places that are tinged with mystery and strangeness, then there are plenty of sights to visit. The plus side to these locations is that most of them are free, which certainly sounds good for the budget-conscious traveler.

Here are 3 strange must-see places to visit in Edinburgh:

Mary King's Close EdinburghMary King’s Close

Opened in 2003, Mary King’s Close is a series of alleyways and streets under the buildings of Edinburgh’s Old Town area. It was closed to the public but had been preserved, renovated and reopened for visitors. It is considered to be a historically accurate example of Edinburgh in the 16th and 19th century. Shrouded with myths, legends and mystery, the Close has its share of ghost stories, murder mysteries and the unrested spirits of plague victims who were left on the streets to die. A definite must-visit for those who are enthralled by the movies set in ye old Scotland.

For great Victorian sculpture and art, visit the tombs of the Warriston Cemetery. This vast 14 acres of land area consists of Celtic inspired tombs, Victorian sculpture and mausoleums that are both beautiful and eerie. There are tens of thousands of graves for the notable Victorian and Edwardian figures across its impressive landscape. Just make sure to visit during the day or you’ll find yourself scared to your wits in the darkness of the night among the sleeping souls.

Gilmerton Cove

Another attraction that opened its doors to the public in 2003 is Gilmerton Cove. A hundreds of years old underground passageway with hand carved walls, the cove is located in a residential suburban area of Edinburgh. Not many people know about this site but it is a well worth visit as it also has its own questions and mysteries. No one really knows who built the passageways and made the carvings. Its purpose is also still unknown. Several theories say that it may have been used as a smuggler’s lair, drinking den or a covenanter’s refuge. Try to figure it out for yourself with a visit to the Cove.

The Innocent Railway Tunnel

A site that may not get so much attention for people who pass by it, The Innocent Railway Tunnel is a 500 meter subterranean passageway that once connected trains in its heyday. The first ever public railway tunnel in Scotland, it is used today by cyclists and runners who don’t want to encounter fast cars on the highway. It is also an acoustic chamber of secrets. A 3-part harmony can be heard if you make a series of sounds inside the tunnel. It has been vandalized by graffiti artists in recent years but it still maintains its captivating beauty – definitely well worth a look to go back in time.

If you’re planning to spend a few days in the city and are looking for a bed and breakfast Edinburgh we can recommend the Edinburgh Townhouse for great accommodation close to all of the main sites and attractions.


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