TRAVEL: Autumn Speyside Whiskey Festival

As soon as I feel the first dip in the weather my mind switches over to all things Fall. I’m ready to pull out my boots and sweaters, eat heartier comfort foods and drink something that will warm my soul. Nothing does that better than a “wee dram” of Scotch Whiskey. I was educated on the topic while living in Scotland. I toured many distilleries and learned the intricacy of a well- made Scotch.


Every Autumn, Scotland hosts the Speyside Whiskey Festival in the heart of Whiskey Country. You can ride the Whiskey Train from Keith to Dufftown viewing the beautiful Scottish Highlands along the way.




Arriving at this century old rail station was as though I had stepped into the scene of an old, romantic movie. The trains were all original. Our conductor was friendly and wore an old hat and pocket watch. He spoke to us freely but we just smiled as we could only understand a few words through his thick accent.





The first distillery we toured was Strathisla, pronounced Strath – eye – Luh. We know this distinctly because we were having trouble locating it and when we asked for directions no one understood these crazy Americans who were saying Strath – is – luh.





Just look at this architecture. Stunning. Obviously, the form followed the function of the space needed in the distillation process but the beauty of the architecture was one of the things I loved most about Scotland. Even the simplest of structures were beautiful because of the stone artisanship.


I can honestly say I had never really thought of what went into the process of making Scotch Whiskey. Just as wines gain their character from the region the grapes are grown, or the type of barrel they are aged in; Scotch Whiskey gets it subtleties from the malting process.  Peat that has been dried into bricks is used as the heat source for drying the damp malt over the fire, which brings the smoke into the barley grain. The more time drying, the more smokey flavor is achieved.


After the tour of the distillery we had an official tasting. Scotch is always served with a side of water. This drastically changes the taste. Next time you order your Scotch on the rocks taste it neat then add splashes of water until you find your desired flavor.


Our last stop was the Glenfiddich Distillery. Right next door was a field with Highland Cows and a castle in ruin. We could not help but to go explore.






We ended our day with a short walk into Dufftown where we wandered into a local pub for some fish and chips and of course Scotch!




Author: Jana Erwin