5 Luxurious Scottish Whisky Getaways Perfect For Valentine's Day
Felipe is an award-winning London-based whisky writer, tastings host, drinks competitions judge, and author. He is also a musician and co-founder of The Rhythm and Booze Project, a duo that fuses live music and whisky through gigs, tasting events and multimedia.
Romance is in the air as Valentine’s Day looms. But of course, even more romance will be in the air after a few whiskies. And wouldn’t it be nice to use romance as an excuse to drink whisky in some of the nicest locations in Scotland?
Yes, it would.
So in the name of love, romance, and the water of life, here’s a short list of the best luxury whisky getaways anywhere. These are excellent hotels featuring not only amazing whiskies at their bars, but also access to whisky that will be hard to find anywhere else.
Islay House – Islay
Aside from being a phenomenal building and hotel, all of the eight (soon to be nine) world-class distilleries on the hebridean island of Islay off Scotland's west coast are within easy distances. Additionally, the grounds of the hotel itself have a small but lovely forest park, a large community garden, and a square where various local businesses (including the only brewery on the island) are based.
Perhaps most importantly, the hotel’s lovely whisky bar features malts from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS), my favorite independent bottler in the world (you have to become a member to get easy access to their excellent whiskies), and probably has one of the best selections of these whiskies outside of the SMWS clubhouses.
I should also mention that Islay itself is a truly stunning location, with beautiful views, hikes, celtic ruins, and beaches.
Old Course Hotel – St. Andrews
St. Andrews is a high-profile location, a gorgeous seaside town on Scotland's east coast. Prince William went to college there (where he famously met Kate Middleton, now Duchess of Cambridge. Romance!). It's one of the world capitals of golf. There’s the beach where they filmed that running scene with the music. And the Old Course Hotel is known for being the fanciest joint in town. I admit that you may have to wait to get a room though, as it's currently closed for remodeling until April.
The hotel itself is, as you may guess, situated right next to one of the most prestigious golf courses in the world, the Old Course. Aside from an impressive bar and the offer of bespoke guided tastings, there's nearby access to two microdistilleries. Oh, and a spa.
The Eden Mill brewery and distillery is in Guardsbridge, the town next door. It produces its own gin and beer, but it also blends its own whisky under the ‘Art of the Blend’ brand. Also close by is Kingsbarns Distillery, launching its first whisky next year. But you don’t have to wait: it's owned by Wemyss Malts, an excellent blender and independent bottler, and there’s plenty of that whisky already available. You can also have a taste of its malted barley spirit that will eventually become its single malt whisky once it ages for the necessary three-years-and-one-day for it to be called a "whisky."
Craigellachie Hotel – Craigellachie, Speyside
There's a reason the Craigallachie is considered one of the best whisky hotels in the world, with a whopping selection of 900 whiskies. There's a foodie bonus. The restaurant, The Copper Dog, sources all its ingredients within a 40-mile radius of the hotel.
And you have many reasons to venture beyond the bar as well. The Speyside region has one of the highest, if not the highest, concentration of whisky distilleries in the world. Glenfiddich, Balvenie, Macallan, and many more are all within easy reach.
And if for some insane reason you want to do something else beyond drinking whisky, you can go salmon fishing, clay pigeon shooting, explore the many hiking and biking trails, drive around the Speyside Valley in vintage cars, and plenty more.
Balmoral Hotel – Edinburgh
Scotland’s capital sure is romantic.
And the Balmoral Hotel is one of the nicest hotels in one of the city's most iconic buildings. It boasts the mandatory impressive whisky bar, and a Michelin-star restaurant, Number One. Although Edinburgh isn't generally considered a particularly special or important whisky location, I’m on a personal campaign to prove otherwise. (I admit I’m biased because I live here.)
From the Balmoral, you're less than a five-minute stroll from some phenomenal whisky locations. If you take the romantic walk along the Royal Mile next to the hotel, from the castle to Arthur's Seat there are various shops that also double as independent bottlers, selling whisky that you can’t find anywhere else.
Jeffrey St. Whisky and Tobacco, in particular, not only hosts tastings in the shop with its own whiskies (be sure to ask for its excellent Miltonduff), but have one of the best cigar selections in the U.K. Cadenheads and Robert Graham around the corner also has its own bottles, as well as Royal Mile Whiskies, one of Scotland’s best-known whisky shops.
Dowans Hotel – Aberlour, Speyside
Another Speyside hotel, Dowans Hotel, opened a new bar recently with a collection of 500+ whiskies. With rooms named after Speyside distilleries, the hotel also houses two restaurants, 57 and Spe, which specializes in working with seasonal local ingredients. Like the Craigallachie, the world of Speyside whiskies is within easy reach. Located next to the lovely River Spey (in which you can canoe and fish), the hotel is a short walk from the Aberlour Distillery (be sure to try the A’bunadh, my favorite whisky from there), and a short drive to many other ones.
By Felipe Schrieberg
Felipe is a London-based whisky writer, musician, tastings host, drinks competitions judge, and author. He writes for internationally renowned publications such as Forbes, Whisky Magazine and The Whiskey Wash. He has been awarded the Icons of Whisky Communicator of the Year award at Whisky Magazine's 2022 World Whiskies Awards.
He is the co-founder of The Rhythm and Booze Project, a duo fusing live music and whisky through gigs, tasting events, and multimedia. His past projects encompass performances at the Edinburgh Fringe of the band's own show Two Guys, Three Drams which combined live blues with whisky tasting, and building the world's first bass drum made from an entire Scotch whisky cask with a barrel of Lagavulin.
He is also a judge for the World Whiskies Awards and The Independent Bottlers Challenge. Through his online tastings hosted at The Virtual Whisky Masterclass, he has welcomed over 3,000 guests across 250+ tasting events.
His first book, London Cocktails, is now available worldwide. Follow him on Twitter/Instagram @schriebergfr, or at www.felipeschrieberg.com
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