While on a recent trip to Scotland, I had the opportunity to visit the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh. Located right beneath Edinburgh Castle on the Royal Mile, this fantastic attraction is convenient if you're doing the tourist thing in Edinburgh for a day or two.
Mixed in amongst the charming historic buildings of Edinburgh, the Scotch Whisky Experience surprised me with its size and modern take on a distillery tour. Stepping off the cobblestone streets of Edinburgh, I expected something smaller or less high-tech. The Experience, however, is just that, and one I would suggest you make time for while in Edinburgh.
I took the Gold Tour at the Scotch Whisky Experience, which included the following:
-A ride in a really cool whisky barrel through a Disney World-esque exploration of how whisky is made. I don't want to spoil anything, but the ride includes things like hologram projections, and it's super interesting!
-A guided portion of the tour, led by an awesome and informative employee (Stuart), including more holograms and a tasting of one kind of whisky, chosen by the guest.
-A keepsake whisky-tasting glass.
-Entry into the Whisky Collection, the world's largest holding of Scotch whisky. Not only did Stuart give us a break-down of the collection's history and some of its most interesting elements, we were able to take photos of the collection, which was artfully arranged and really quite beautiful.
-A tasting of more whisky! We received a flight of four whiskys and got to sit and look out at the Edinburgh skyline while tasting them.
-A one-year membership in the Scotch Whisky Appreciation Society.
-Discounts in the shop and cafe.
The whisky barrel ride was really great, and reminded me a lot of Disney World. As I mentioned, our guide, Stuart, was really friendly, and did a wonderful job of explaining the regional distinctions of Scotch whisky to us during his presentation and our tasting. He was really enthusiastic about his work, and it made the experience that much better!
Of course, we also enjoyed the tasting! I selected the Auchentoshan American Oak for my main-tour taste choice. It was really great and had a wonderful flavor.
I also really enjoyed exploring the Whisky Collection, the size of which couldn't be captured in just one photograph. The Collection contains 3,384 bottles of whisky, many of which are quite valuable and unique. The entire collection was amassed by Claive Vidiz, a whisky enthusiast from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He started the collection in the 1970s and sold it in 2006.
One of my favorite bottles in the collection was this bottle of Dewars, which is from 1897!
After our Gold Tour, we stopped by the Amber Restaurant and Bar, located within the Scotch Whisky Experience facility. We had the lamb stovies, brie and plum chutney roll, and the tomato and lentil soup. The tomato and lentil soup was absolutely delicious! My husband gave the Harviestoun Old Engine Oil Raspy Engine brew a try, and we both had the highland hot chocolate, complete with cocoa, marshmallows, whipped cream, and, of course, a wee dram of whisky. Oftentimes, it's been my experience that restaurants within tourist attractions are a bit lacking in quality. This was absolutely not the case at the Amber Restaurant. In fact, I think that this was one of my favorite meals on our trip to Scotland!
Overall, I'd have to say that the Scotch Whisky Experience was one of the most enjoyable things we had a chance to do on our trip to Scotland. The employees were kind, knowledgeable, and helpful; the whisky was great; the tour was well-presented; and the food in the Amber Restaurant was delicious. If I'm ever in Edinburgh, I'm definitely going back!
Have you ever been to the Scotch Whisky Experience? What did you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
A very warm thank you to Rosie Willmot of the Scotch Whisky Experience for all of her wonderful help and support in hosting us on our trip to Edinburgh. As always, all opinions are my own.