The Best Countries For Whiskey Lovers
Wine, beer, and gin lovers are well catered for when it comes to travel. Those who like to indulge in a good glass of red or white have the benefit of a number of regions across the world dedicated entirely to vineyards and producing top notch wines. Gin has taken the world by storm and craft gins are available across most of the world, along with gin tours and festivals. Beer? The word ‘Oktoberfest’ alone should be enough to convince you that there’s enough beer-fuelled travel available to last a lifetime. Whiskey lovers may have to search a bit harder for their perfect destination and refined tastes, but there are places out there that definitely fit the bill. Here are some of our favourites
The motherland of whiskey is an incredible destination for anyone who likes to indulge in a glass of the amber firewater from time to time. There’s definitely something to be said for sipping your whiskey surrounded by coarse Scottish accents, a chilly breeze, and the hilly Scottish scenery.
Scotland is home to over 100 distilleries so even with the best will in the world, seeing them all would be impossible. Speyside is a wonderful area to base yourself, with more than half of the country’s distilleries based there including the whiskey stalwarts of Glenfiddich and Glenlivet. Do make sure to pop past some of the smaller, more boutique producers though; they make excellent whiskeys and will be more than happy to give you a more intimate tasting and tour experience.
For years now, Japan has been producing stellar whiskeys alongside their more stereotypical tipple of sake. Countless awards later, Japanese whiskey has carved out a strong niche for itself – and as a tourist destination it’s incredible thanks to its culture, scenery, and food.
Base yourself in Tokyo, and within a two hour radius, there is a whiskey scene which will blow your mind. A visit to Yamazaki near Kyoto is a given, partly thanks to the museum, partly thanks to its size and fame, and definitely thanks to the impressive ‘whiskey library’ of several thousand whiskeys displayed in all their glory.
Or, go for something totally different with a trip to Hakushu. It’s situated in a huge forest area which they own the majority of and have kept largely untouched in order to protect the environment. The result of this is a seriously zen distillery which is producing some of the best whiskey in the world. But don’t take our word for it; Hakushu’s “The Hakushu 25-Year-Old” was recently named the World’s Best Single Malt at the World Whiskies Awards.
Similar to Scotland, Ireland has a long history of producing whiskey. Famous for the triple-distilled Jameson, Ireland was once the most prolific producer of whiskeys in the world. Nowadays things are a little more modest with only a handful of whiskey producers remaining. Those that are there today have truly stood the test of time and have been around for hundreds of years.
When in Ireland, there are two absolute must-do whiskey experiences. The first is a tour of Jameson, in County Cork, followed by a tasting and a signature Jameson drink. The original factory in Dublin no longer produces whiskey but is a museum of sorts, and definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area. The second distillery to visit is Old Bushmills in Northern Ireland near Giant’s Causeway. It’s the oldest whiskey distillery in the country and the triple distilled whiskeys made there are all explained in detail during the tour; including tasting notes and how best to enjoy each one of the amber-coloured liquors.
It goes without saying that America is huge, and not everywhere will be the perfect whisky destination. But the country that made Jack Daniels famous has got plenty to offer if you know where to go.
Start your trip off with a stop in Louisville, Kentucky. Its home to some of the finest bourbon in the world. Step off the plane and shake the sleep from your eyes with a visit to whiskey row, a block-long stretch of downtown Louisville. This vibrant, historic area of town was home to the Bourbon industry and the last few years has seen it revitalised and regenerated. Take a tour of the famous distilleries including Angel’s Envy, Jim Bean and Evan Williams before stopping for a bite to eat at one of the many buzzing restaurants and cafes in the area. After a couple of days make your way to another Kentucky city; Lawrenceburg, where you’ll find the home of the Wild Turkey distillery. Here you can learn about and watch the entire process from grain delivery to bottling before enjoying a tasting at their super-modern tasting room and visitor centre.
Of course, it would be heinous to do an American whisky trip and not set foot in Tennessee. The Jack Daniels distillery in Lynchburg is the oldest registered distillery in America. Fun fact? Though the distillery is world-famous and a huge tourist drawcard, it’s situated in Moore County which is, in fact, a dry county. That means that no alcohol can be sold in the county at all, so you can’t actually buy Jack Daniels in its hometown!