Relaxing Lochside in the central Highlands (with whisky, of course!)

A few weeks back I published a post on whisky tasting on the Isle of Skye. And in that post I mentioned the Scottish distilleries’ penchant for being the most this or the only that. Well today I introduce to you, dear reader, Scotland’s smallest distillery, Edradour.

When we left the Isle of Skye on the Caledonian MacBrayne Ferry we were heading for the central Highlands to a holiday let we’d booked on Airbnb on the banks of Loch Tay.

Loch Tay is a freshwater loch between Scotland’s two largest national parks, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs and Cairgorms. It’s a long, narrow loch which lies alongside the A821.

We chose Loch Tay because of this:

And this:

Our holiday let itself was pretty sweet. It had 3 small double bedrooms, all of which had seriously tiny beds. We ended up using one of the bedrooms as a dressing room which worked out nicely. It also came with an archaic heating system we couldn’t figure out until the second night. But it had an only slightly leaky conservatory (view from above) and the kitchen was really nice…

… and there were views for days. Overcast, cloud filled views:

Raining in the distance views:

Even holy heck that’s quite a storm views:

Well, whatever the view, we weren’t going to just sit in our little house all day.

We had some whisky to taste!

The 45 minute drive to Edradour in Pitlochry took us through Kenmore, a quaint 16th century village at the foot of Loch Tay, just outside the Taymouth Castle Estate which is currently being converted into a luxury hotel, spa, and golf course with exclusive residences. Very fancy. When driving past it you can just about make out the castle in the distance. And since it wasn’t open for visitors when we were there, I turn to wikipedia once again:

On your way to Pitlochry from Loch Tay you’ll also find yourself driving through the small market town of Aberfeldy. This is where we did all of our shopping and stocking up. There’s a great little shop in town called Aberfeldy Farmfresh which has some yummy local finds. However, you’ll want to make a visit to the Co-operative a few doors down for your self-catering holiday basics.

Just outside the little town centre is a pretty big name in whisky: Dewars. Aberfeldy whisky is the main ingredient in Dewar’s blends, and I admit I was a little surprised to see a big sign which read: Dewar’s World of Whisky (yes, that’s what they call it). The name kind of makes it feel like it might be the Disneyland of distilleries (don’t you think?). But since we like our distilleries small, it was onward to Edradour!

Pitlochry is a small town far more geared to tourists than its nearby sister, Aberfeldy. We paid a visit to the delightful Auld Smiddy Inn after a quick wander around the quaint high street. Lovely pint at the Smiddy. Recommended.

And of course, there was plenty on offer in the way of Scottish wares, should you be interested, in Pitlochry.

The Scottish Shop next to Scotch Corner

But let’s not forget the reason for our visit. A delightful (and don’t they know it) distillery on the Edradour Burn.

The Edradour Burn runs right through the property

I recommend doing the whole enchilada: tour, tasting and a visit to the shop. You won’t be disappointed. Our tour guide was equal parts knowledgable and entertaining and kept a room of whisky novices and enthusiasts completely hooked.

After the tasting, of which we all got to go home with our own commemorative whisky glasses, he took us on a tour of the property, stopping to allow us to take photographs of its rich history, almost none of it I remember. I suppose that’s what its website is for.

And this blog? It’s for pictures. Hence the name.

Now, the reason that Edradour is the smallest distillery in Scotland goes way back in time to when Highlanders would make their own whisky in small, homemade stills. And when that became illegal, making your own booze at home, they decided to keep making whisky in the smallest legal stills allowed.

And although they may be the smallest, they make 25 blends of their own and have quite the storage facility. Loads of other distilleries store their barrels at Edradour as well as use Edradour in their blends.

We weren’t allowed to take photos in the still itself, however if you check out their website they have some videos you can watch.

Once your tour is over, they invite you to visit their newly renovated tasting room as well as the shop. The tasting room is fantastic. I wish I took more photographs of the space, but I was too busy trying out their wares.

Personally I found the Edradour whiskies to be too sweet, and the tasting room bartender equated their 10 year to Christmas Cake. I couldn’t find that flavor anywhere on the tasting wheel.

Your last stop at Edradour should be the shop.

If you are flying back to the states, each person over 21 can carry up to 1 liter of alcohol. And by carry I mean carefully pack the bottles in your checked baggage and hope that the airline baggage crew don’t break your precious cargo. Our 10 year got home safe and sound.

Even though we really wish we’d been able to take this little guy with us, too.

Alas, no expensive Islay whisky for us. That’s saved for our next trip. Islay here we come!

But first, to round out the end of our scorching summer road trip in Scotland… finally, some rain. Rain so thick you can’t even see the loch in the distance. One shopkeeper mused that it was the biggest storm they’d seen in years.

I bet they say that about all the storms.

The next morning we awoke to beautiful blue skies with fluffy clouds, the banks of Loch Tay reflected in its mirror like surface…

… Perfect conditions for a drive back to bonnie Leicestershire.

And although we’d originally planned on a couple of nights in Edinburgh, the call of a comfortable bed and warm meal at home was too strong.

As was a pasty at our nearest motorway services! Cheese and bacon, if you please. Nom nom.

The blue skies continued, following us all the way down the M74, M6 and then across Derbyshire.

Seven hours later we arrived in Gaddesby, ready for a deserving glass of wine in the garden, already planning our next trip before parking the car. Though nothing we choose could top a road trip around the Isle of Skye, surely.

What about Paris? There’s a cheap flight out of East Midlands on Tuesday…

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