The West Coast Whisky Trail, Scotland
Stretching from Campbeltown to the Isle of Skye and Fort William, the West Coast Whisky trail is known as a whisky-lover’s heaven. It’s bursting with distilleries offering whisky connoisseurs and novices a warm welcome and a ‘wee dram’.
Visit distilleries and taste whisky driving Scotland’s West Coast Whisky Trail
Stunning scenery, meandering coastline, mysterious islands and distilleries with their pagoda-shaped roofs and centuries-old art of whisky production. This golden combination is heaven in your whisky glass if the ‘water of life’ is your favourite tipple. If you’re a complete novice, let yourself be lured under its magical spell to discover the distinctive flavours of each whisky, from smoky to peppery, as you wind your way along Scotland’s West Coast Whisky Trail.The Foodie Travel Guide
- Taste West Coast whisky
- Tour the distilleries
- Drive through spectacular scenery
- Eat local seafood
Follow The West Coast Whisky Trail
Of the five whisky regions in Scotland – Speyside, Highland, Lowland, Campbeltown and Islay, the West Coast Whisky Trail will take you to three of them. From the Springbank Distillery in Campbeltown to the south, to the famous western distilleries of the Isle of Islay and, in the north, the Talisker Distillery on the Isle of Skye.
Taste West Coast Whisky
Whiskies from the West Coast tend to be big-bodied. They take on the tangs of the salty sea air and of the distinctive peat smoke. The most powerful are the heavily-peated Islay malts whereas the malts from the north, tend to be gentler. Some of the best places to stop en-route for a guided distillery tour and whisky tasting are:
This small southerly coastal town, at the tip of the Kintyre peninsula, once boasted over 30 local distilleries. It now has just three. Single malts produced here are noticeable for their briny character and some boast peaty notes. The Springbank Distillery is one of the oldest family-run and owned distilleries in Scotland and the only one to carry out the full production process on the one site.
Isle of Islay, the Inner Hebrides
At only 25 miles long, the Island has no fewer than eight distilleries. It’s covered in peat which is exposed to rain and sea spray. Harvested and used to malt the barley used in distilling, the peat gives the single malts from Islay their characteristic smoky flavour with some salty, seaweed notes.
Bruichladdich Distillery – this distillery claims the title of the most heavily peated single malt whiskies on the planet
Kilchoman Distillery – Scotland’s most westerly distillery and one of the smallest. One of the few to carry out traditional floor maltings and use barley grown on the farm at the distillery.
The biggest whisky region geographically, the Highland malts embrace wide and robust flavour variations. Generally heavier and drier in character, whiskies from here often have nutty, honey, heather or peaty notes. Distilleries near the sea also have some salty, maritime influences in their malts.
Talisker Distillery – the only whisky distillery on the Isle of Skye
Ben Nevis Distillery – this distillery, at the foot of Britain’s highest mountain, is the tasting destination for ‘whisky walkers’. Just remember to pack your hip flask.
Oban Distillery – one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland, dating back to 1800
Isle of Arran Distillery – now Arran’s only working distillery where you can purchase your own cask
- Come in May for the Islay Festival of Music & Malt when many of the distilleries host open days
- Visit Laphroig Distillery in spring and you’ll see the peat being hand-cut (in summer you’ll see it being left out to dry)
- Combine your road trip with some of the seafoodie tasting places on The Scottish Seafood Trail
Where to Stay
Skerrols House on Islay – an elegant and immaculate guest house with 7 rooms. It’s located in the centre of the island and offers easy access to Islay’s famous whisky distilleries including Bowmore, Laphroaig, Lagavulin, and Ardbeg.
The Islay Hotel in Port Elgin – a comfortable hotel overlooking the harbour in the fishing village of Port Ellen. There are 13 guest rooms (some are family rooms) and dogs are allowed on request.
Loch Melfort Hotel near Oban – a family-friendly small hotel in beautiful countryside with coastal views. There are 25 bedrooms (some allow dogs) and a bistro.
The Isle of Eriska Hotel and Spa in Benderloch near Oban – a 5 star Relais & Châteaux property on a private island. Perfect for fine-dining foodies with its Michelin star restaurant and forty page wine list.
A good trip to take me on. You’ll need to check with each distillery but walking along the coast sounds good. Can I take my tweed coat?