Below is the list of distilleries I’ve visited so far (in date order), current count: 60…
Here’s a map with everything plotted on it.
Oban (06/05/2012 & 06/10/2013) – Small distillery in the middle of Oban fed by municipal water sources. My write up is here, but a much better write up is here (thanks to Whisky Sheffield). No self fill that I can remember, but there is a bottle etching machine so you can have your own message put on a bottle, that’s quite cool.
Kilchoman (07/05/2012) – New make that makes your eyes water, great stuff. Tried the wort. Excellent example of a small farm distillery, worth a look! Lovely little cafe as well, so a perfect place to stop and have a coffee after while you’re fighting the effects of high ABV samples. No self fill from what I can remember, but there was distillery only bottles.
Bunnahabhain (08/05/2012) – One of the best views on Islay (my other fave being Lagavulin Bay). Tour is ok, it’s nice that it’s very much a working distillery so it’s not too full of tourist pomp. The shop and dram room are pretty small, but it’s Bunna so it’s forgivable. If you’re on Islay then I’d hope you’d do all the distilleries, but if not, keep this on your list to visit. No self fill, no distillery only bottles (bar one stupidly expensive one).
Caol Ila (08/05/2012) – Massive and factory like (especially after being updated recently), but interesting. Fairly standard Diageo, dinky shop, but has what’s needed. My tour I didn’t’ see anyone working at all (it’s very automated), other than me and the tour guide and the person in the shop. Be vaguely careful when booking as when I did the tasting wasn’t the same as the tour and had to be booked separately which messed up my carefully laid plans. No self fill, but there was distillery only bottles.
Bowmore (08/05/2012) – Awesome, great tour, malt floor and kiln, and bar at the end overlooking the sea is just amazing and very generous. Make sure you don’t miss this when you visit. No self fill when I was there, but there defo is now as I have a bottle that a friend got me!
Laphroaig (09/05/2012) – Obviously you have to go here! Quite happy with the tour, and most interestingly the only distillery that I’ve been to so far that offers a 5cl mini to those who are driving, well done them. I hear the long tour where you go to the water source etc is awesome, I need to go back. Don’t remember there being and self fills or distillery only bottles, however on the more expensive tours I know you take away cask samples with you.
Ardbeg (09/05/2012) – The shop and café are great but very busy, too busy for me when we went so we left and went elsewhere for lunch. The tour is reasonably standard and the distillery fairly small, but it’s gotta be done hasn’t it. After go and check out Kildalton Cross and have a packed lunch there in the quiet peace. Don’t recall any self fill or distillery only, it’s fairly corporate.
Lagavulin (09/05/2012) – Warehouse tour by mistake but good mistake to make, lots of whisky direct from casks. Also my favourite bay on the island, walk around to the castle ruins when you’re done and take in the view. No self fill. There was a distillery only bottle, but run out when I was there.
Jura (10/05/2012) – Mostly closed for maintenance when I went, so very quick and hugely disappointing tour, not worth the time or money it took to get there. Grumpy islanders and bad weather made for a memorable experience for all the wrong reasons. If you’re pushed for time I really wouldn’t recommend killing yourself to get here. Don’t remember any self fill or distillery only.
Bruichladdich (10/05/2012) – As expected, it was awesome and very busy, lots of staff, refreshing to have people around with so many other automated distilleries these days. Great shop, wish I’d had more time there before having to leave to catch a ferry. Defo a self fill here, their Valinch’s are famous! Go for it, 50cl of fun.
Auchentoshan (20/10/2012) – Does what it says on the tin, created for mass tourism but interesting, clean and fresh all the same. Nice modern shop and easily accessible from Glasgow. If you’re in the area then you really ought to go, simple. I think there’s a self fill there now.
Balblair (22/10/2012) – Less well known maybe, but worth a visit, compact and interesting if a little over priced. Self fill is good; trying drams you have to pay for all extras above and beyond inclusive (and I was on my own so they could have been nice if they’d tried)… i.e. don’t expect hidden extras like you may get elsewhere. On the plus side they looked after my wife while I was on tour and left her on a warm sofa with a cup of tea. Self fill available, I did… bit expensive maybe.
Glenmorangie (22/10/2012) – Pretty much what you’d expect for a big distillery, slick and well presented with the cathedral like still room. If you’re passing then head on in for a look. Don’t recall any self fill or distillery only, similar to Ardbeg (same company) it’s pretty corporate.
Clynelish / Brora (22/10/2012) – Sadly the Diageo policy of no pictures detracts for this distillery as there are great views to be had in the still room. Interesting enough all the same, especially for Brora fans to have a nose around the old distillery buildings. No self fill. There was a distiller only bottle which didn’t interest me.
Tomatin (23/10/2012) – A large distillery doing great things for whisky and on their tours, well worth a visit as it’s so easy to access if you’re near Inverness. The whole place has a genuineness about it that is reflected in their great whisky. Nice shop with good wee bar to try various things after. I was lucky to poke my head into bits of the distillery that are usually closed to the public and wow, it is *massive*. Two self fills available, I went for a sherry matured 10yo.
Glenfarclas (23/10/2012) – Modern, slightly cringy visitor centre, not much for the Mrs to walk around as it’s near a big and unsafe road. Good whisky though and pleasant well presented tour. Independant, and more modern than I was expecting. No self fill, and no distillery only when I was there, but there was soon after with a 2000 bottling.
Glenlivet (23/10/2012) – Nice café, free tour of the newer part of the distillery, no look around the older part. Pretty good tho. Self fill was on the verge of being opened when I was there, they were just waiting for bottles.
Aberlour (24/10/2012) – Good tour and tasting after… it’s not the cheapest tour, but that’s because you’re basically paying for the good tasting after, lots of expressions on offer. Two self fils to be had, I chose a 16yo bourbon matured (the other was sherry matured).
Glenfiddich (24/10/2012) – Surprisingly good tour which is free and three drams at the end. You come away with maybe a better feeling for what’s a pretty large producer. Excellent cafe, and large well stocked shop. Self fill available, I didn’t (should have though, doh).
Edradour (26/10/2012) – Very cute distillery, but sadly very disappointing, created for mass market and not very friendly. Didn’t notice and self fills or distillery only bottles. There’s a well stocked shop and I would have brought two or three bottles, but you’re not aloud to sample anything… if you want to sample you have to go to another building to a bar and pay for each sample. I couldn’t take my wife with me at that point because she’d not paid for the tour (didn’t go on it), so unless she paid tour prices she couldn’t come to the bar. The offended me so much we just left and didn’t buy anyhing, very sad.
Blair Athol (26/10/2012) – Much more friendly than Edradour, and free (get a Classic Malts Passport), ideal, really happy to have gone there. No self fill, but a good distillery only bottle which I got.
Hicks & Healey Distillery / Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm (12/05/2013) – Distilling is only a small part of what they do, and only gets a fairly small mention. Interesting, but shame they don’t do more and a shame their whisky is so expensive and hard to try… You can’t buy samples, but if you visit then you can get a 2.5cl sample there, but you have to drink it there and at 10am I wasn’t really on form to be doing that. Really good whisky though. UPDATE: Go to St. Austell Brewery and they also sell 2.5cl drams, but will put it in a pot for you to take away which is much better… they also have a lovely bar area to sit and take it easy.
Glenkinchie (30/09/2013) – Not as photogenic as I imagined it would be, but interesting enough and fairly easy to get to from Edinburgh. I should have got the distillery only bottle as it’s great but didn’t, doh.
Royal Lochnagar (30/09/2013) – Small distillery, nicely presented. Expensive whiskies. No self fill or distillery only.
Cragganmore (01/10/2013) – Got the first tour of the day all to myself, great stuff, time and space to look around, treated well, very friendly. Don’t think there was a self fill or distillery only.
Cardhu (01/10/2013) – Slightly larger scale, but treated well all the same. Fairly standard Diageo, but good views over the landscape and the distillery itself is quite pretty. Nothing doing on self fill or distillery only.
Macallan (01/10/2013) – Couldn’t help but feel disappointed really not entirely pretty distillery – although they’re soon going to be rebuilding it, good tasting at the end of my particular tour however. Mass consumers would be happy, and most geeks fairly happy. Shop was ok, but low on stock when I was there… no self fill or distillery only bottles.
Longmorn (01/10/2013) – Awesome tour of this newly refurbished and expanded distillery, lucky me, not open to public. Opened a bottle of 16yo in the still room and drammed away in the warm. Obviously nothing doing in way of self fill or distillery only, and there’s not much in the way of warehouses there so don’t expect to open casks.
Balvenie (02/10/2013) – For those who’ve not been to Islay then this would be an awesome tour. For me it was on a par with an Islay tour but disappointingly I had the backup tour guide who was bloody rubbish. It would have been one of the better tours if the usual guide wasn’t on holiday. You see a malt floor, kiln, and cooperage, all pretty cool stuff. Self fill is only 20cl which is a little lame (I guess you could fill more than one though), but there were three casks to chose from and the experience of using a ‘dipping dog’ is quite fun and unique. Book ahead, don’t just turn up, and investigate where the car park is, it’s less obvious than Glenfiddich. No shop, use Fiddich for that.
BenRiach (02/10/2013) – One of the best tours I’ve had! Can’t talk highly enough of it so won’t write more, just take my word for it. Plenty of drams directly out of tonnes of random casks in the warehouse covering all ages from early 70’s with all sorts of finishes. Just amazing. No self fill, but there is a distillery only bottle which I got from it’s very tiny (but amazingly well stocked) shop.
Dalmore (04/10/2013) – A little main stream, no pictures, no access to milling room, but the most beautiful location and a great tasting after (wasn’t on a standard tour). Fairly well stocked shop. There’s a distillery only bottle but it’s expensive… however there’s a few other bottles that are fairly exclusive and better priced.
Glen Ord (04/10/2013) – Mini visit, distillery was partly closed for upgrades. No self fill and didn’t bother with distillery only (you can get Singleton of Glen Ord which isn’t available in the UK, so that’s basically what the exclusive is).
Talisker (05/10/2013) – Mass visit distillery, very Diageo standard, but fairly lax (no pictures, but staff turn a blind eye in general). Nice pub near it, and very beautiful location on Skye.
Tobermory (07/10/2013) – Not the warmest of welcomes, which can often be the case on small islands sadly. Fairly interesting tour, but slightly tight with drams (you get one included in tour price and have to pay extra for others). Watch out for changing bus timetables which can mess up your plans (well they did with mine anyway, nearly missed the ferry if it wasn’t for the kindness of a lovely couple who drove us back in their camper van).
Deanston (08/10/2013) – Interesting distillery, well worth a visit. Very welcoming staff, many drams offered, great stuff. Very good cafe, and easily accessible from Stirling. This really should be in your list to visit. Plenty of distillery exclusives (including Tobermory’s distillery exclusive as it’s the same company and therefore saves you the trip)… and there’s a self fill too… what more could you want! Great warehouse, you’ll see what I mean if you visit.
Aberfeldy (09/10/2013 & 20/11/2014) – 25yo direct from cask in warehouse one of the best whiskies I’ve ever had! The first hour is a history type tour around a museum which is ok I suppose (I would have been happy to skip it though as I didn’t have time to spare really), the second hour the actual distillery tour which is fairly interesting. Pretty place, have a walk around the outside of it after. UPDATE: On second visit we walked behind the car park along the river in the woods for a little way, that’s a nice thing to do. There’s also now various casks from Dewar’s other distilleries in the warehouse to try from.
Dalwhinnie (09/10/2013) – Last of the Diageo Classic Malts distilleries for me and my Classic Malts Passport, got my Quaich! Pretty mass visit… nice distillery visitor centre, but gets very busy. Nothing particular in way of exclusives of self fills… there is a self fill in a warehouse I think if you do the posh expensive tour (I didn’t).
Glengoyne (10/10/2013) – Nice welcoming dram before tour, interesting place, good shop, and all very pretty. There’s a distillery only bottle (Teapot Dram) and a self fill. Worth a visit if you’re based around Glasgow area as an alternative to Auchentoshan.
Glenturret / Famous Grouse Experience (11/10/2013) – Hand operated mash tun! Much more interesting than I expected, worth a look, but get first tour of the day as it gets very busy later. Had tour to myself before coach loads came. No self fill or distillery only (although there’s a Glenturret 18yo in the shop which is fairly exclusive, probably because it’s bloody expensive).
The London Distillery Company (21/03/2014) – London’s first whisky distillery since Lea Valley closed its doors for the final time over a century ago. Fab place, just very slightly off the beaten / tourist path, but well worth a visit… full of enthusiasm and spirit (in both sense of the words!). They’re still playing with what they’re producing at the moment so no actual production and nothing much to taste, although they do do gins!
Glen Garioch (22/05/2014) – Interesting little distillery with one of the town’s roads going right through the middle of it. Didn’t stop doing their own floor maltings until fairly recently, so when you’re on tour you get to look around them and get the feeling for what it used to be like. As part of the more expensive tour you get to full your own bottle directly from a cask using a Valinch which is a great hands on way to do it, recommended. Visited as part of a larger trip organised by Glen Garioch, have a read of the trip here.
Cotswolds Distillery (22/07/2014) – Smart new distillery just opening in the Cotswolds! Two little pot stills, one wash, one spirit. Also a gin still. Maturation currently in Liverpool until warehousing is built.
Somerset Cider Brandy (06/08/2014) – Lovely little distillery in the heart of Somerset using Coffey continuous stills from France. Maturation on site and in nearby village. Read my blog post on my visit to the site, which is an enchanting place.
The Lakes Distillery (27/08/2014) – New distillery on the verge of opening in the Lake District. An old converted victorian farm which looks just the piece. The drive to it, and it’s location bests many a good Scottish distillery. It’s going to be a really impressive place and is worth the detour off the M6 when travelling up to Scotland.
Glen Scotia (28/08/2014) – Generally no visitors, but we were lucky to be invited around for a look. Very much a working distillery which is likely to be getting a little more investment soon.
Springbank (28/08/2014) – Everyone’s favourite Campbelltown distillery. It malts all it’s own barley, and bottles on site as well. It’s slightly tucked away in the town, so keep your wits about you when you’re heading there.
Glengyle (28/08/2014) – A small 2 still distillery next to Springbank that doesn’t distill all year, interesting to look around while you’re there however!
Benromach (27/10/2014) – Sweet little 2 still distillery, the smallest in Speyside so we’re told. It’s independently owned and run by Gordon & MacPhail, and sadly you’re asked not to take any pictures, often you find small distilleries are more accommodating. The capacity has been upgraded leading to an 80% production increase in 2014. All spirit is stored on site. There’s a fill your own bottling, £60 when I went for an 8yo.
Glen Moray (27/10/2014) – Elgin’s local distillery which used to be owned by Glenmorangie and now by La Martiniquaise. Currently undergoing an expansion of nearly 50% with 5 new washbacks, new stills, etc. Glen Moray’s rather iconic black malt bin towers greet you as you walk down the road to the distillery, and I was lucky to go to the top to get a great view out across the site… I’m sure these are some of the tallest malt bins in the industry, but I’ve no stats to back that up. There’s a nice cafe and shop, which includes a bottle your own which is the best value I’ve seen for a long time, 1st fill sherry 8yo CS for £45 at time of visit, a must.
Old Pulteney (28/10/2014) – Wick’s local distillery, based in the Pulteneytown area of Wick, Caithness. 4 waters used in the mash with 6 stainless steel lined washbacks. Dry yeast is used so that if the main route, the A9, closes due to bad weather it won’t affect production because liquid yeast can’t be delivered. Casks are filled at distilling strength. The site is very compact, but there is a small space in the middle where offices used to be that could be expanded into.
Macduff (19/11/2014) – Not generally open to visitors. Horizontal condensers and more wash than spirit stills make it slightly unusual. A 1970’s rebuild.
Aultmore (19/11/2014) – Not generally open to visitors. Remote controlled lauter tun from Germany. 70’s rebuild.
Craigellachie (19/11/2014) – Not generally open to visitors. 70’s rebuild, which retained worm tub condensers.
Royal Brackla (20/11/2014) – Not generally open to visitors, but may get a visitors centre soon. 70’s rebuild with some old buildings and warehouses left.
Glenrothes (9/03/2015) – Not generally open to visitors, but visited as part of a press tour, find my write up here.
Lagavulin (23/05/2015) – Counting this a second time as this visit I got a proper tour around, rather than just the warehouse visit of last time. However I won’t increase the visit count!
Bladnoch (29/10/2015) – Bladnoch closed a few years ago, but has now been sold to a new owner who is spending lots of money refreshing and updating the distillery. Although it’s not going to be producing for 12 to 15 months I got to poke my nose around all the same… the stills are likely to be relocated to another building to create more space to expand / double them.
Annandale (30/10/2015) – Small distillery with two stills… lots of money lavished on the place, and a nice visit; good cafe. Not in production when I visited, update works on the boiler. It’ll be great to see how the whisky turns out in the coming years. Peated and unpeated runs.
Strathisla (26/10/2016) –
Knockdhu (anCnoc) (26/10/2016) –
Tullibardine (28/10/2016) –